‘Here for good’
Governor Charlie Baker called The Salvation Army an “incredible partner” in the battle against COVID-19 during a recent tour of the food hub in Lynn, Mass.
After his tour, Baker stood in front of the familiar white food boxes emblazoned with the Army’s shield and held a news conference. He asked everyone to think about the numbers; in just 150 days, the Lynn Corps Community Center staff had distributed 1.8 million meals to the community. At the same time, the Army had distributed 8 million meals across the commonwealth.
“I can’t go anywhere in Massachusetts that has something to do with food without seeing these boxes somewhere—in the warehouse, the storeroom or the front room of every organization that’s working to make sure the people of Massachusetts have enough to eat during these incredibly difficult times,” Baker said.
Baker, who gave a daily COVID update and also announced food grants during his remarks, heaped praise on The Salvation Army, which partnered with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and Baker’s Food Security Task Force during the pandemic. He also thanked the volunteers who made it possible.
“To everybody who is part of this team, and especially to the folks here today from the Lynn Salvation Army, I just want to say, ‘God bless’ and ‘thank you’ for all that you do,” Baker said.
The governor had also toured the food pantry operations in Lynn and noted that before COVID, it was a “nice, cozy, and quiet little place” where people could go through and pick what they wanted.
“In a very short period of time, you’ve managed to turn that from being a relatively small but effective delivery model to something that’s been able to scale to basically do 10 times what you were doing before,” Baker said.
“That 8-million-meal milestone is an incredibly important one when you think about the work of The Salvation Army generally and the integral role it played in helping so many of us provide relief and support for people here in Massachusetts. I fully expect that over the course of many months, as we go forward here with COVID, The Salvation Army will continue to exceed everyone’s expectations time and time again.”
Lt. Governor Karyn Polito thanked Salvation Army board members and volunteers who work “for this outstanding organization.”
“Your tagline, ‘Doing the Most Good,’ clearly defines who you are,” Polito said. “We’re so proud of you for what you do in ordinary times and what you’ve done during these extraordinary times. It is really remarkable and so appreciated.”
Katie Theoharides, the state’s secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, mentioned the Salvation Army’s working relationships.
“The Salvation Army’s resilience in being able to really utilize partnerships and step up to this new challenge, which has been an unprecedented one, has been incredible to see,” she said. “We really thank you for that.”
Major Marcus Jugenheimer, general secretary of the Salvation Army’s Massachusetts Division, noted that Lynn is just one of 32 Salvation Army locations in the state that responded when COVID hit.
“We are, and will be, here for good,” he said.
“For anyone who has driven by and seen the line of cars outside for our drive-thru food pantry, it’s evident that the challenge of food insecurity continues to be a growing issue here locally. This is the same across the commonwealth and certainly across the nation.”
Jugenheimer said The Salvation Army received 20 tractor-trailer loads carrying 25,000 emergency food boxes per week that were then distributed through the state.
He also said that The Salvation Army is serving COVID-positive people who are homeless, quarantined in hotels, and among other at-risk populations. The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS), in conjunction with MEMA and the National Guard, also played a big role in Chelsea, Mass., one of the state’s COVID “hotspots.”
“Throughout these difficult times, this powerful partnership is helping people who are facing food insecurity,” Jugenheimer said. “The Salvation Army is here for good and we are invested in continuing to address these immediate needs as well as the long-term impact of this COVID epidemic.”
by Robert Mitchell
photography by Joshua Qualls/Governor’s Press Office