Food pantry benefits

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON Bedford Community Food Pantry volunteers, from left, Paul Spivack, Becky Federico and Judy Tannian, along with Rachel Higgins and Boo Zotto, stock a section of baked beans, black beans and green beans that are popular choices for patrons of the food pantry that is housed in a portion of the Bedford Presbyterian Church, 4 Church Road.

Big hearts motivated generous donations at Whole Foods in Bedford during a Stuff-a-Cruiser event recently hosted there by the Bedford Police Department to benefit the Bedford Community Food Pantry.

The food pantry, directed by George Reese, is a program of the nonprofit Bedford Lions Club. The pantry shares space with the Bedford Presbyterian Church on Church Road. It is open on the first Saturday of the month from 9-11 a.m., and the Monday that follows from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Frozen meats and fresh vegetables await, sheltered in two large refrigerators. Boxed, canned and bagged foods are abundant.

The Stuff-a-Cruiser event on Feb. 2 was filled with bounty sheltered in recycled paper bags provided by Whole Foods. The bulk of the non-perishables surely tested the suspension of the shiny black police vehicle.

Lt. Mike Bernard, along with his son, Ben Bernard, 15, a sophomore at Bedford High, loaded bags filled with canned fruit, vegetables and soups. Sgt. Jessica Humphrey and Detective Amy Champagne packed in tins of tuna and jars of peanut butter. Monique Pliakos, a records clerk at the police department, added mesh sacks of potatoes and onions.

Lt. Bernard noted the temperature of the outdoors that day as nearly zero degrees. Nevertheless, supporters turned out en masse to ensure the success of the food drive.

“The more we get the community involved, the better we are,” said Bernard. “We want to thank Whole Foods for supporting us and the food pantry.”

Noted on the food pantry website ( is word that nearly 500 people in the community live below the poverty line. Around 300 adults and children qualify for food stamps.

Food pantry volunteers Boo Zotto and Rachel Higgins shivered outside Whole Foods as they accepted people’s gifts of sustenance. Both are former school nurses at Bedford schools. They said that, based on their long experience, they know there are more people in need of food in Bedford than might be imagined.

Philip DeVito, team leader at Bedford Whole Foods, agreed that food insecurity is too common. He went beyond a high level of customer service by arranging for several donation tables to be made available.

“We’re happy to be of service to the Bedford Police Department and to bring nutritious food to families in need,” DeVito said. “It puts forth the core values of Whole Foods to support and help our communities.”

Information on the Bedford Community Food Pantry can be had online:

Loretta Jackson may be contacted via email: