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East Bay Food Pantry & Thrift Shop Endowment Fund
By Jean Cohoon / November 13, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

“People don’t think there is need in a community like Bristol, but there is poverty here and in all the communities we serve,” says Nicki Ann Tyska, executive director of the Bristol-based East Bay Food Pantry & Thrift Shop which also serves residents of Barrington, East Providence, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth, Tiverton, and Warren.

“It would be so nice to think that times are changing and that our mission of creating a hunger-free community was complete. But unfortunately, that’s not yet the case,” Nicki Ann shares.

Instead, the 10-year-old organization is seeing an increase in the need for services. In 2017, the food pantry served 2,350 unduplicated individuals, an increase of 20% over 2016. Numbers have continued to rise in 2018.

“Most people use us situationally, after the loss of a job or due to poor health. We’re here to help them get through a tough time. The exception are the elderly who, once they need assistance, tend to require services for as long as they remain in their homes,” Nicki Ann states.

The Food Pantry program that has seen the greatest growth in the past year is Food4Kids, a program that supplements the National School Lunch Program by providing nutritious breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for children during school vacations and on weekends. Also seeing substantial growth this past year is the Fresh Food Fridays program. With produce obtained from community farms, the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, and a local wholesaler, the Food Pantry encourages clients to incorporate more fresh foods into their diets. A third program Nicki Ann highlights is the Mobile Pantry which provides homebound individuals and their dependents with a monthly delivery of nutritious groceries and personal care products. 

The Food Pantry is funded through grants, donations, fundraising events, and the proceeds of sales in its thrift shop. This endowment will provide another source of funding. “We consider this a fiscally responsible thing to do. It will help stabilize our funding and, we hope, will allow us to be more noticed by more donors,” Nicki Ann concludes.

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