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A Look Back at 2023


Guests from 14 communities placed 11,818 orders in 2023, obtaining food to serve 27,903 family members during the year, a 45% increase over 2022. Our guest roster in 2023 included 1,500 guests in 580 households. Nearly 55% of the households included a guest over the age of 65. Each week our volunteers delivered 50-60% of our orders. Overall, 42% of our guests were adults under the age of 65, 23% were children and 35% were seniors. We started the year serving 449 guests each week and ended serving 642 guests a week, an increase of 43%. Adults under the age of 65 and children under 18 accounted for the vast majority of this increase. 

Our Volunteers

At the end of 2023, our roster of active volunteers included 216 members of the community. Of these, 64 came to us for the first time in 2023 and 78 have been with us for three or more years. In total volunteers gave more than 30,000 hours of service in 2023. During the year we adopted use of “Signup,” an online scheduling system and quickly became one of their highest volume users.

​Our Food

We distributed over 471,000 pounds of food in 2023. Of that 59% was donated or purchased from the Greater Boston Food Bank, 7% was purchased locally, and 34% was donated by the community. Community donors included 395 individuals, 15 schools, 10 churches, 23 businesses, and 58 local service and community organizations. According to Project Bread’s conversion ratio, the food we distributed provided 392,500 meals for neighbors. During 2023 we continued our summer outside Farmers’ Market, a highlight for many of our guests who enjoy selecting their own locally grown food. 

Food Recovery in Local Schools

In 2023 we took over leadership of the food recovery program that was started by Nourishing the North Shore 7 years ago. Each week that school is in session our volunteers collect unused fruit, vegetables, milk, sandwiches, juices, and snacks. Currently we are working with Newbury Elementary, Bresnahan Elementary, Nock Middle School Triton Regional High School and Pentucket High School. In 2023 the program recovered over 7700 pounds of food that would have been discarded.

Our Pantries in Local Schools

During 2023 we established food pantries at Newbury Elementary, Triton Middle school and Pine Grove School, completing our installation of five school pantries in the Triton Regional School District. These pantries provide snacks and mini-meals for students to eat at school and take home. In early 2024 we plan to establish a pantry at River Valley Charter School in Newburyport and will explore needs at other local schools in our service area.


Our Ordering System and Inventory Management System

In 2023 we completed evaluation, purchase and implementation and rollout of the Pantrysoft online ordering, guest management, inventory management and reporting system. The rollout of the system started July 1 and went smoothly for our volunteers and for our guests, who quickly adapted to the new system. We successfully eliminated the extensive excel work needed to effectively organize the Pantry, improved guest satisfaction by reducing unexpected out of stocks and streamlined reporting.

Our Financial System

Late in 2022 Oracle offered us an in-kind donation of their cloud-based financial management ERP software (NetSuite) and related training as part of their outreach to nonprofits. The Pantry financial team completed all the training offered, worked closely with one of their consultants, and gradually migrated accounting operations to Oracle NetSuite. On July 1, the start of our fiscal year, we became fully operational with Oracle NetSuite handling our accounting and financial management.
This donation has provided a more professional platform for Pantry financial management, enabling greater efficiency in handling the increased volume of transactions and providing a vehicle for more effective data management. We are extremely grateful to Oracle NetSuite for this important and generous donation.

Our Building

We filled our new building to capacity by mid-year and began thinking of ways to expand the storage needed as our guest numbers increased. Our first step was to create a loft for storage on one side of the building, using a moving stairway to access the space. Because of the increased number of guests and expansion of the school pantry program we are considering an addition that will provide more room for operations as well as more on-site storage. 
During the year we made major improvements in the outside area. Volunteers planted a flower garden, installed a bench, bike rack and storage bin for donations that arrive when we are not open. At year-end a volunteer constructed three custom ergonomic bagging tables that stream lined bagging and eliminated many of the frustrations our baggers identified.

Our Donors

Throughout 2023 our community was tremendously and consistently generous. Donations have come to us from across the community and beyond - from individuals and organizations, from guests, volunteers and others with whom we are familiar, as well as from those who are just learning about our mission and activities. In 2023 we received financial support from 218 individuals and 45 organizations.

Our Public Profile

Our website, has 1,500 visitors per month and our Google profile has 480 views per month. In 2023 we distributed monthly newsletters to 684 people in the community, a 22% increase over 2022. On Facebook, we reached 15,048 people and ended the year with 836 followers, a 57% increase over last year. We established a presence on Instagram, reaching 8,880 people with our posts and ending the year with 684 followers. In addition to these activities, we continued to speak before local service organizations and received excellent press coverage about our school pantry program, our food recovery in local schools and the challenges we faced as guest numbers grew. 
In May, Jane Merrow, the Pantry co-founder, was honored by the YWCA of Northeastern Massachusetts as a leader who has made a difference in her community. Later in the year, the Pantry volunteers were singled out by the PEG Center for Art and Activism as local heroes for the work they do each week.

Our Public-Facing Events

For the second year in a row we participated in monthly dinners at Loretta’s, Community Day at the Newburyport Senior Center, Newbury Days, the Turkey Classic Golf Tournament, an Underground Comedy benefit show at the Grog, and gift wrapping at Henry Bear’s Park at Christmas time. Each of these activities, staffed by our enthusiastic volunteers, brought greater community recognition to the Pantry. 

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