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With need greater than ever, Food Link hub renovation begins

Food Link, a community organization that rescues fresh food, is considered an essential organization and continues to work during the current pandemic out of three buildings. Additionally, it is borrowing refrigerated spaces in Waltham and Arlington.

NAPA Auto Parts, 100 Summer St., Sept. 6, 2018. / Bob Sprague photoNew home for Food Link, 108 Summer St. / Bob Sprague 2018 photo 

The current crisis makes it clearer than ever that the demand for its programs exceeds current building and refrigeration capacity.

After considerable debate, its leaders have decided to continue their Summer Street renovation project now, as the demand for food will remain high in the months after the shutdown has ended. Those who have been laid off from work and those whose businesses are not able to reopen will need support and resources, a Food Linbk newsletter says. 

With the new Food Link hub expected to be open and operating later this year, those in charge plan to be able to meet the needs neighbors and community even better.

DeAnne Dupont, who cofounded Food Link in 2012, wrote in response to questions from YourArlington that the nonprofit is operating out of a store front in Arlington, where there are six refrigeration units, and an office on Brattle Street.

Public fund-raising next month

"We plan to launch the public phase of our capital campaign next month, but we need to be mindful of the current environment," she wrote Thursday, April 9.

"We continue to operate seven days a week, and we have very strict policies around social distancing, limiting the number of volunteers at any one time, beginning this week making cloth masks available to each volunteer and a very strict Covid-19 policy. Some feel it is too strict. We do not.

"We have three distinct teams that have strict restrictions about having no physical interactions with each other."

Renovation underway at Summer Street hub.Renovation underway inside Summer Street hub. / Food Link newsletter

The Summer Street renovation are expected to take six month. Rubicon Builders of Mansfield is the construction manager for the work.

While the work continues, Food Link volunteers are doing their work at the store front and using cold-storage spaces in town and in Waltham. Dupont wrote that they often sort food in the parking lot of the donor and deliver directly from there.

Earlier temporary operations

Earlier this year, Food Link leaders knew that a temporary operations space would be needed once the date was set for the demolition of the Arlington Food Pantry building at 117 Broadway and before its future home at 108 Summer St. was ready for move-in. 

A solution was found in a temporary operations center at 17 Irving St., location of the former Parmenter School. Food Link has moved from there now that work at Parmenter is underway.

Food Link is a community organization that rescues fresh food from 19 grocery and prepared food stores and alleviates hunger by distributing food through 30 social-service agencies in eastern Massachusetts. Food Link operates 363 days a year and is powered by more than 200 volunteers. 

Jan. 16, 2019: Food Link gets $25,000 grant to aid new headquarters

Nov. 14, 2018: UNDER ONE ROOF: Food Link completes purchase of Summer St. HQ

This news summary was published Friday, April 10, 2020, based on information from a newsletter and DuPont.

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