Delivering in a Time of Need: First Congregational Church Pantry Seeing Unprecedented Numbers

During the current COVID-19 crisis, the First Congregational Church of Revere Food Pantry has been seeing the largest number of visitors in the Pantry’s history, according to Wendy Baur, director of the Pantry, and the Rev. Timothy Bogertman, associate church pastor.

“The line [on April 8] stretched all the way back from Revere High School to our church front door (located at 320 Beach St.),” said the Rev. Bogertman, spiritual leader of the church along with the Rev. Nick Granitsas, senior pastor.

The Rev. Bogertman said the Food Pantry operates every Wednesday, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Last Wednesday (April 8), there were 321 people who came to the Pantry, of which 296 were new visitors. A total of 526 bags of food were distributed along with 321 bags of USDA food.

“In any given week during this time of year, we might have 50-60 people per week, but never this many people – it’s unprecedented,” said the Rev. Bogertman.

Wendy Baur, who has been director of the Pantry since 2002 and a volunteer since 1997, said the substantial number of new visitors to the Pantry has prompted her to order 9,000 pounds of food a week from the Food Bank. The Pantry previously ordered 8,000 pounds of food a month.

“Two weeks ago, we had 100 new visitors. Last week we had 296 new visitors,” said Baur.

Baur said the distribution efforts are done person-to-person because there is no room for drive-up at the intersection of Beach Street and Central Avenue where the church is located.

The Pantry is trying to set up a second site where residents would be able to drive up and receive the bags of food.

Baur said she is being assisted by volunteers from the church and the city’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Team. She said that Councillors-at-Large Gerry Visconti and Steve Morabito and candidate for state representative Joe Gravellese helped out at the Pantry last week.
“Dimple Rana, who’s on the city response team, has been incredibly helpful,” said Baur.

City Council President Patrick Keefe said he is pleased that city officials and community leaders are teaming up  to assist the church’s food pantry. Among the donors has been Dan Luberto, owner of Luberto’s Bakery.

“The City of Revere and some of our partnerships have been doing a lot in regard to food response in the city,” said Keefe. “There is a huge need. Dan Luberto has generously donated to the cause and he did it quietly to help out the residents of Revere.”

The Rev. Timothy Bogertman, church pastor, said the city has been very supportive of the pantry’s food distribution efforts. “The city has been very supportive through all of this. Mayor [Brian] Arrigo and the City Council have done everything they can to help us while we try to meet this need.”

The Rev. Bogertman also expressed his gratitude to Luberto for his donation.

“We are very appreciative of that donation and very blessed by that,” he said. “We thank everyone who has been helping support us at this time. It’s been pretty amazing.”

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