BURRILLVILLE – An emergency food program received a generous boost in time for the holidays this week, with a donation of 15 turkeys from Burrillville-based meat producer Daniele International.
And two recent food drives for the Burrillville Weekend Snack Pack program have helped town officials continue to feed local families in need.
According to Parks & Recreation Director Andrea Hall, who runs the Burrillville program, the turkeys will be used in Christmas food baskets for several families.
Hall began managing a food delivery program focused on Burrillville seniors at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March through Meals on Wheels. By July, Hall and her army of volunteers had delivered more than 6,000 meals to town residents age 60 and older, with some 93 homes receiving food regularly at the height of the program.
But funding for Meals for Wheels ran out in October, and since then, Hall notes that the town has only been able to provide food on an emergency basis.
Now, only nine families receive food boxes every week. The remaining emergency food service is provided through the Snack Pack program, which currently delivers weekend food for 40 Burrillville students in need.
“We’re not just servicing students now,” Hall said. “It’s just sort of an emergency program aimed at seniors.”
The same town-run group has also been picking up and delivering free school lunches to six Burrillville students in the meals program who are now remote learners.
Volunteers were able to deliver Thanksgiving bags last month to all of the previous Meals on Wheels recipients, thanks in part to a donation of turkeys by the superintendent of Crystal Lake Golf Club. Cakes for dessert were provided by Charles Field, a frequent donor to the program.
“It was just something to brighten up their Thanksgiving, since a lot of those people live alone,” Hall said. “It was nice to see people we used to see regularly.”
The Parks & Recreation director noted that it has been nine months since relief efforts began, and Rhode Island is currently in the midst of a virus surge. But there are far fewer resources for those in need coming from state and federal sources.
The town’s now-limited food program has been kept afloat through grant money from organizations including the Levy Foundation, Power Options and Ocean State Power received at the start of the pandemic – as well as a group of dedicated do-gooders.
“I have awesome volunteers,” Hall said, adding, “That money has been helpful.”
“It’s sad because a lot of these people are alone, and it’s not just the meal – it’s the conversation and the time spent with somebody else,” Hall said. “It’s a lot of fun. We’ve all made friends. It’s been awesome.”
Recent Snack Pack drives by the Steere Farm Elementary School PTO and North Smithfield High School senior Sullivan Hough have also helped.
“We got quite a bit of food from those,” Hall said.
The recent turkey donation from Daniele was facilitated by District 47 Rep. David Place.
“They reached out to me and I was the go between,” Place told NRI NOW. “I do my best to help out as much as I can.”
Town seniors or residents in need of food or other assistance can call Hall, who can direct them to the correct resources.
“I get the phone calls and I go from there,” she said.
Those able to donate food or financial help, as well as residents with any other senior issue, are instructed to call Hall at (401) 710-7429.
Editor’s note: An original version of this article stated that Crystal Lake Rehabilitation & Care Center made a donation of turkeys, instead of Crystal lake Golf Club. We apologize for the error.