Supporting food security in the local community is one of DiSilva Fruit's, an Arrowfarms company, long standing priorities, and with the Covid-19 pandemic leaving so many more families vulnerable to hunger, the company has risen to meet the challenge. Since April 2020, the Chelsea-based, family-owned company has donated fresh fruit and vegetables to Boston-area food banks, charities, and community centers, in excess of 300,000 pounds. Working with three main partners - Chelsea Collaborative, Muslim Community Link, and Food Link – DiSilva Fruit, with support from sister companies Gold Bell and Arrowfarms, has contributed all types of fresh produce, from potatoes and vegetables to specialty fruit and organic items.
The company has taken special care to support the city that it calls home, as Chelsea has the highest incidence rate of COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts. Of the 300,000 pounds of food donated, 200,000 pounds has gone to Chelsea Collaborative, who has used DiSilva Fruit’s produce donations to help stock its pop-up food pantry. In addition to food resources, Chelsea Collaborative works to support residents facing evictions and disseminate critical information about COVID-19.
"Chelsea Collaborative does amazing work for the community," says Nelly Czajkowski of DiSilva Fruit. "We are so proud to be able to contribute to the health and well-being of so many families by providing access to wholesome food. It’s more important than ever to support our neighbors and we'll continue to donate healthy, fresh food throughout the crisis via our wonderful community partners who are working so hard to distribute these vital resources."
Chelsea Collaborative's food pantry began operations in March after the state initiated lockdown measures. During the first week, food was distributed from the front porch of Executive Director Gladys Vega’s home. The pantry has since moved its location three times to accommodate the number of families they are serving. They consistently feed 11,000 families per week. The food pantry endeavors to provide families with healthy and culturally appropriate food, that anyone can receive – no questions asked. While the organization focuses on the Chelsea community, families frequently come from all over eastern Massachusetts and even as far as Springfield to get food. Since lockdown ended and reopening measures began, the food pantry has not seen a decrease in the number of families needing food. They expect to continue the service for the foreseeable future.
"We really appreciate all the produce DiSilva Fruit has sent over the past four months. We’ve been able to step up and provide food for those in need in our community thanks to partners like them," says Tanairi Garcia of Chelsea Collaborative.