As a transplanted Texan, I’m still not used to New England snow storms. The day before a storm I become the frenzied man from the infamous internet milk and bread video as I head to the store for last-minute provisions. When the snow sets in, I grumble as I spend 15 minutes looking for my snow pants while cursing the need to own snow pants in the first place. Then I spend another 15 minutes suiting up both my dog and me in our winter gear – yes, my dog has winter gear - to take her for a snowy walk that lasts far less than 15 minutes. Shoveling my walkway somehow seems to activate all the muscles in my body that I forgot existed. Needless to say, winter is not the reason I moved to Boston.
But by all measures, I lead a life of extreme privilege. I never wonder if I will have a safe place to stay warm during a storm. I never worry whether I will not have warm meals for my family, or have food to take with my daily medication. I don’t consider limiting the use of my furnace to save money on sky-high heating bills.
Hundreds of thousands of people across Massachusetts aren’t so lucky. The number of folks who are homeless, food insecure, or struggling to pay their utility bills (especially during bitter winter weather) are staggering. On any given night, almost 18,000 people are homeless statewide. Nearly 200 people sleep on Boston streets on the coldest nights of the year. One in ten Massachusetts households lacks access to affordable, nutritious food.
That’s why the Boston Foundation has long stewarded the Food and Fuel Fund. Created in 2008 in response to the economic downturn and rising food and fuel costs in Massachusetts, the fund issues grants to support a network of committed community partners meeting our neighbors’ basic food, fuel and shelter needs during hard winter weather.
Boston Foundation donors have consistently supported the cause. This winter season, they have contributed more than $150,000 to the fund, which in turn has supported a variety of grantees that work around the clock to make sure our neighbors are safe, warm and well-nourished:
It is unlikely winter will become my favorite time of year in Boston any time soon, but I am proud to live in a community where the weather can bring out the best in others. Together, we are a community that rallies to take care of our most vulnerable neighbors, giving them the chance to escape the elements and remain warm and well-fed.