The MBTA announced late last week a partnership with the City of Boston, YMCA of Greater Boston, and The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) to help provide Boston’s most vulnerable residents with access to food by utilizing the RIDE paratransit service.
“One of the many tragic consequences of the pandemic has been the explosive growth of food insecurity,” explained MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “Employees at the RIDE interact with Boston’s most vulnerable citizens every day. During the pandemic, these employees saw firsthand and early on that individuals who have issues with mobility, illness, quarantine, or are otherwise at high risk were unable to leave their homes to access food. It was their willingness to help that led us to the Food Bank with an offer to share resources.”
“This partnership is a testament to the impact we can make in the lives of our families and those in need when we work together,” said City of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “I thank the MBTA, and our partners at the YMCA, and the Greater Boston Food Bank for helping us strengthen the City of Boston’s food access work that has already provided over one million meals to our residents most in need and negatively impacted by COVID-19.”
“We relish this opportunity to partner with the MBTA and City of Boston to deliver food to our most vulnerable children, families, and seniors,” said YMCA Senior Vice President Wendy Zinn. “It is a blessing to coalesce our organizational skills, infrastructures, and ‘people power’ in the spirit of serving others. We thank the MBTA and City of Boston for allowing the YMCA of Greater Boston to participate in this important partnership, as we are universally committed to mitigating hunger for all Bostonians during this crisis and beyond.”
“This pandemic is unprecedented in our history, so it takes great community partners like the YMCA of Greater Boston and the MBTA to find creative ways to safely serve all of our neighbors in need,” said President and CEO of The Greater Boston Food Bank Catherine D’Amato. “With food insecurity on the rise in our region, we also thank Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston for leading the way with innovative solutions that help to enhance the work of the emergency food network during this challenging time.”
As ridership on the MBTA’s RIDE service has significantly declined during the COVID-19 situation, available RIDE vehicles are currently being utilized to pick up and deliver food items and school meals. Collaborating with GBFB and the YMCA, RIDE drivers arrive at the YMCA location on Huntington Avenue daily to pick up an assortment of grocery bags and shelf stable school meals. Groceries are delivered by RIDE vehicles to designated homes, the amount based on the size of the household and whether or not the family is enrolled in the Boston Public School partnership.
Under the leadership of Mayor Walsh, the City of Boston has provided more than 1.2 million free meals to youth across sixty-eight sites since the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Since expanding the number of meal sites to also serve adults in April, the City has distributed nearly 100,000 meals to adults. As of the end of May 2020, the RIDE has completed over 3,185 deliveries, totaling 5,129 grocery bags and 24,000 school meals to over 1,200 Boston Public School children. Residents can visit boston.gov/COVID19food or call 311 to find food resources, including meal sites for youth and adults, food pantries, and more.
For more information, visit mbta.com, boston.gov/COVID19food, or connect with the T on Twitter @MBTA, Facebook /TheMBTA, or Instagram @theMBTA.