As head of the East Greenwich Food Pantry with his wife Chris, Bartlett has spent the last couple of years coming up with new ways to fulfill the pantry’s mission of feeding the hungry. Together with friend and fellow food pantry volunteer Steve McLoughlin, he’s found what could develop into something big: providing a hot noontime meal for those in need.
“Steve and I were talking and we said, ‘Well, why don’t we do it?'” Bartlett said. Part of the reasoning was they saw that some of their clients were requesting foods that didn’t need cooking because they didn’t the facilities to cook. Bartlett and McLoughlin thought how nice it would be for them to have a hot lunch.
They had the names of two area restaurants that had expressed interest in helping feed the hungry, so one day a few weeks ago, the two Steves and Chris walked over to the first restaurant on the list, Jiggers.
“We talked to Karie – her approach was, ‘How much, where and when and we’ll get it there,'” said Bartlett about Jiggers co-owner Karie Head.
McLoughlin confirmed that telling: “We talked to Jiggers and before we could finish asking, they said yes.”
Jiggers will deliver soup and hot sandwiches on Wednesday for the first lunch meal to be served. Already there are several people who’ve signed up to volunteer. For this first meal, Bartlett said he wasn’t sure how many people would show up but responses from pantry clients have been very positive, he said.
Clients have been asked to help out in some way, helping set up or clean up, for instance.
“The enthusiasm is just unbelievable,” Bartlett said. “You gain a lot of self respect when you contribute.”
The plan now is to provide one lunch a month, but Bartlett and McLoughlin said they hope to be able to offer weekly meals perhaps as soon as this summer, with different restaurants contributing meals.
The first lunch will be served on Wednesday (Feb. 12), from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., at St. Luke’s Church, 99 Peirce St., the site of the food pantry. Anyone in need of a meal is welcome.
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