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NewsDec 15, 2020

Lesley gives Food For Free’s fund drive a $10,000 boost

Partnership with Cambridge non-profit aims to help combat hunger crisis

Large bins of bagged food
Photo courtesy: Food For Free

Lesley University is deepening our partnership with the Cambridge-based nonprofit Food For Free with a $10,000 donation, increasing commitment to helping neighbors obtain healthy food at a time when an estimated 13 percent of the city’s residents are experiencing food insecurity.

“We are so pleased that Lesley can support Food For Free in helping to meet the enormous increase in hunger in our community as a result of the pandemic,” said Lesley President Janet L. Steinmayer In a Dec. 15 announcement. “It is heartbreaking to hear of long lines at food pantries all across the United States and to know that even in a city as well-resourced as Cambridge, there are many residents struggling to feed their families — and to know that food insecurity is striking communities of color most acutely,” she said.

“The Lesley community includes many teachers and mental health counselors who see firsthand the devastating effect that hunger has on their students and patients. Food for Free’s school food programs and meal deliveries to our most vulnerable residents are meeting critical needs, and Lesley is proud to be their partner,” said President Steinmayer.

Woman with a mask knealing to look at bagged food
Photo courtesy: Food For Free

In concert with longstanding and award-winning initiatives to reduce food waste, Lesley has long donated nutritious but unused food to local organizations like Food For Free. The economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic is taxing the already stressed capacity of local food pantries, and Food For Free recently launched a $100,000 drive as part of the Cambridge Campaign Against Hunger. Our social justice-informed human arts focus pointed the way to an inevitable expansion of its role in sustaining community well-being. 

“We are excited and grateful to partner with Lesley University,” said Sasha Purpura, executive director of Food For Free. “For the past several years, Food For Free has worked closely with schools and colleges to not only collect their surplus food, but also to serve the students and their families that need support. This is a particularly critical time, and we see Lesley University's contribution as a continuation of our partnership to help ensure that our communities have access to healthy food.”

Lesley University several years ago launched an on-campus food pantry for students in need, particularly commuter students, and a longstanding student-run Housing Justice and Outreach Collaborative (formerly Lesley Delivers) makes and delivers sandwiches to homeless people in Harvard Square. But Lesley was, and is, determined to do more in response to the pandemic.

"I'm grateful that Lesley University has partnered with us to support our Cambridge Campaign Against Hunger in such a meaningful way. Cambridge has seen a huge increase in food insecurity over the past 10 months, and our food pantries have been struggling to keep up with the increased demand,” said Cambridge Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon. “This generous donation will help purchase food for the food pantry network and fill in the gaps for so many of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors during this incredibly challenging time."

Find more information about food insecurity in this time of increased community need, and how you can help.