It’s never a good time for a food pantry’s freezer to stop working, but it’s even less ideal during a pandemic and major economic recession. But that’s the situation Off Broadway, one of Second Harvest’s partner food pantries, found itself in this past spring.
Like many food pantries across the region, they saw many people in their community turning to them for the first time as they lost their jobs in the wake of the crisis. “We’ve been that lifeline out there for people who have never been to a food bank before,” said Jan Foley, director of Off Broadway. But a broken freezer prevented them from being able to serve their community the best they could. Without freezer space, they couldn’t store and distribute certain foods, including meat—which many families were hoping for as meat prices in stores skyrocketed.
That’s when someone called Second Harvest asking if there was somewhere he could donate his freezer where it could be put to use to help keep the community fed.
“I had a fully functioning freezer. I knew it was a time when freezers were in high demand, since people were worried about food supply. Rather than trying to get a few bucks out of it, it could get a lot more mileage if it went to a facility that supports needy people,” said the donor, who wished to remain anonymous. “We thought that was a better use than trying to get 50 or 100 bucks from it. Rather than giving the money, it would be better to donate the freezer. We wanted it to go somewhere where they would use it.”
Off Broadway operates on very little budget and is run by a team of volunteers. “We never could have afforded a freezer. We can barely keep our lights on,” said Jan. “Anything that’s donated to us like that is a big help.”
Kurt, a lead volunteer at Off Broadway, says the gifted freezer prevents them from having to turn down food donations. “Refrigeration is of utmost importance. He came like a knight in shining armor,” said Kurt. “He doesn’t even know that the ripple of his giving is impacting our ability of giving away food. It came just in time.”
“He could have sold the freezer, but it’s not about money for him. It’s about what’s in his heart, and his heart shines to us.”
“It is very gratifying to hear that my donation is going to make it possible for food that otherwise would have been wasted to help people in the community. That’s exactly what we hoped and intended,” said the donor.
“I just wanted to help some people who need it.”