19 Jun 2012

Nantucket Food Pantry

Nantucket food pantry
Nantucket Island is well known for serving up some of the finest food imaginable. There are more 4-5 star restaurants per square mile than virtually anywhere else in the world. Talented chefs and their staff work tirelessly to wow diners with creative and delicious new menu items each season. Earlier this month, many of the restaurants “showed off” a few of their new menu sensations during Nantucket Restaurant Week. I couldn’t take advantage of all of them, but did find a night to slip into a quiet corner table at Oran Mor with long-time friends. We sampled smoked salmon, perfectly seared fluke and a braised duck dish that left me wanting to lick the plate. The evening festive, the food divine…a great start to summer.

Just a couple nights later, food was once again the impetus to a gathering of friends, neighbors and island visitors as we came together at the Nantucket Yacht Club for the Annual Chef’s Dinner to benefit the Nantucket Food Pantry. The always popular event featured 4 courses of delectable cuisine from several of the islands top chefs. 100% of the proceeds were donated to support the Nantucket Food Pantry.

On an island well known for its affluence, it’s hard to imagine many are struggling to put food on their tables. Yet, the Food Pantry Director, Andy Reis, announced that activity is up over 6% from 2011 and the Pantry now services over 10% of the year round island population. As we dined on the extraordinary cuisine, I found myself wrestling with the irony. The table centerpieces told the story of why the evenings event was so important. Pantry staples like whole wheat pasta and rice are weekly necessities for many of our island friends and neighbors. Still…there is some good news. One of the board members informed us that very few of the Pantry participants stay in the program for long. Most find themselves in a temporary position of need and once back on their feet become loyal donors and volunteers of the Nantucket Food Pantry. A true “pay it forward” organization.

It’s heartwarming to watch the island unite this time of year for a number of good causes. It’s particularly great to watch some of the island chefs donate their time, talents…and food itself….to benefit the Nantucket Food Pantry. Many other organizations are rallying around this cause as well. NAREB (Nantucket Association of Real Estate Brokers) has joined with Pantry Partners to assist in collecting unused food items from the rental homes. At Lee Real Estate, we leave food collection bags in our rental homes and personally pick the items up after check-out to make the process easier for tenants to donate.

Ronald Reagan once said, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” As you gather family and a network of friends around your Nantucket table this summer, brainstorm ways you too can support the efforts of the Nantucket Food Pantry. Deliver unused food items to one of the designated drop off spots, organize a Food Pantry specific shopping trip or simply send a monetary gift.

Make a difference.

Shellie Dunlap

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