Orange Food Pantry plans return to in-store operations

  • Evan Manning and Shane Trudeau work at the Orange Food Pantry on East Main Street in Orange. The pantry will reopen for walk-in service starting Sept. 3. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Shane Trudeau puts together a food order at the Orange Food Pantry on East Main Street in Orange with Rachel Berggren, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program. The pantry has been operating with a drive-thru system, but will reopen for walk-in service starting Sept. 3. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Evan Manning and Rachel Berggren, executive director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program, staff the drive-thru service at the Orange Food Pantry on East Main Street in Orange. The pantry will reopen for walk-in service starting Sept. 3. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Report
Published: 8/27/2020 1:47:52 PM
Modified: 8/27/2020 1:47:46 PM

ORANGE — After operating for months with a drive-thru system amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Orange Food Pantry is preparing to resume indoor business.

Franklin County Community Meals Program Executive Director Rachel Berggren said the Orange Food Pantry at 188 East Main St. will reopen for walk-in service starting Thursday, Sept. 3.

At the start of the pandemic, Berggren said the Franklin County Community Meals Program reassessed its programming and decided, for the safety of staff, volunteers and patrons, to shift to being a drive-thru-only pantry.

“At the time, this was the safe thing to do, and provided peace of mind to all who were not comfortable venturing out from their homes or cars,” Berggren said. “The shift also allowed our staff and volunteers the time to adjust to the pandemic. Now, we are a well-oiled machine, with a full understanding of all protocols and procedures we must follow to keep everyone safe.”

When walk-in operations resume on Sept. 3, there will be some necessary changes. According to Berggren, a limit of three people will be allowed in the pantry at one time, and only one member of each family will be permitted to enter. Staff will frequently clean and sanitize the space, as well as ensure that all guests have masks and hand sanitizer available to them.

“We want to provide the opportunity for people to be social again, although at a distance,” Berggren said. “We know our pantry has provided a place for connection in the past and that this virus has impacted people in that way. We also want to prepare for the cold months of winter coming up when we will be unable to operate outdoors. We are doing our best to make adjustments that will meet our needs as an organization, as well as the needs of the community.”

In planning for the return to in-store business, Franklin County Community Meals Program officials met with Orange Health Agent Matthew Fortier to confirm their understanding of Gov. Charlie Baker’s guidelines. The Orange Food Pantry is categorized under essential services and functions similarly to a grocery store.

“We want to be open to the community as a grocery store would be as we continue through this pandemic together,” Berggren said. “The best we can do is adjust our protocols and procedures to do what we were doing in a new way while keeping health and safety at the center of our practices.”

Although drive-thru services will be suspended with the shift to walk-in service, the Orange Food Pantry will still offer delivery services. The food pantry is open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information, contact the Franklin County Community Meals Program at 413-772-1033 or fccmp.ma@gmail.com.


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