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MIT and the City of Cambridge celebrated National Hunger Awareness Day by honoring the city's 13 food pantries at the 13th annual Cambridge First Day celebration on June 7.
The food pantries make up the Cambridge Food Pantry Network, which is coordinated by the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC).
Before 120 attendees, who brought in food items for the pantries, MIT's Chairman of the Corporation Dana Mead presented a check for $6,500 to Elaine DeRosa, director of the CEOC. As DeRosa held the check up high, she told the crowd that "many families and individuals in Cambridge have to make a choice between buying food or paying rent. This money will help those people." The $6,500 will be distributed among the 13 pantries by the CEOC.
As the pantry directors were called forward one by one, they were congratulated and thanked by Mead, Cambridge Mayor Michael Sullivan and Cambridge City Manager Bob Healy. Each honoree received a framed Cambridge First Day Award and a bound City Council resolution.
In a surprise announcement, Healy told the crowd that he has authorized an additional $9,000 for CEOC to purchase a badly needed industrial refrigerator/freezer to store donated food. DeRosa looked shocked, and dozens of pantry volunteers in the audience cheered the news.
After the event, MIT staff delivered surplus food from the buffet lunch to the CASPAR Emergency Service Center at 140 Albany St., and distributed bags of donated food items to each of the 13 pantries throughout the city.