Published On: Thu, Mar 4th, 2021

Boca Helping Hands Expands Drive-Thru Pantry Bag Distribution Hours

Boca Helping Hands (BHH) is expanding its drive-thru Pantry Bag distribution hours, to occur during a time slot previously occupied by its Thursday night, sit-down family dinner. It has been almost a year since BHH suspended its Thursday night dinners due to the pandemic.  
“Thankfully, due to the commitment of our volunteers and support from those in our community, we’re able to add additional services,” said Greg Hazle, Executive Director of Boca Helping Hands. “Without their dedication and willingness to give back to the community, we would not be able to continue to expand our services.”

The drive-thru pantry bag (groceries) distribution on Thursdays is from 4:30pm to 6pm at the East Boca main facility at 1500 NW 1st Court in Boca Raton. This expansion will help accommodate those who work during the day, making it easier for them to pick up their pantry bags with groceries for their families. Boca Helping Hands is also exploring new locations to continue the expansion of its services to serve even more families. Previously, there were no weekday evening hours available to pick up pantry bags at the drive thru operation.

“We are pleased to be able to offer the expanded hours of our drive-thru pantry bag distribution on Thursday evenings in East Boca,” said Bill Harper, Director of Food and Warehouse Operations. “This will help our families by providing more flexibility and is also a positive step in moving toward resuming pre-COVID operations.”

A common misconception about BHH and the services it offers are that the organization is serving primarily unemployed individuals. However, most BHH clients are employed or underemployed, with a majority of these families still struggling to make ends meet. The Pantry Bag Program often serves as a supplement to their income so that they can better afford other necessities such as medicine, rent, and childcare.

In 2019, BHH was serving 6,018 families and last year, they added an additional 3,435 families to the Pantry Bag Program. Much of that increase came from working families who have been undone by circumstances outside of their control, like client Rick C.

When the pandemic began, Rick’s hospitality business “was ravaged” and “a lot of people were laid off.” His wife works in the medical industry and also had mandatory shutdowns, so she wasn’t able to work. “We are very proud people, and we have never looked for assistance from anyone. We have a child and food was running out,” Rick said. “[Boca Helping Hands] got us through the bad times. Without their help, I don’t know where we would’ve been. Slowly, but surely, we are getting our lives back on track.”

To register for the Pantry Bag Program, visit one of the four distribution locations. Hours and addresses can be found on the BHH website at BocaHelpingHands.org/PantryBagProgram

Boca Helping Hands also offers limited financial assistance for rent, utilities, childcare, and healthcare vouchers. For more information, visit BocaHelpingHands.org/ResourceCenter

BHH offers six no-cost job-training programs, including Certified Nursing Assistant, Home Health Aide, Medical Billing and Coding, Commercial Driver’s License, Information Technology and Customer Service Representative. For some programs, students can earn their certification in just a few weeks. For more information, visit BocaHelpingHands.org/JTP

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