PEABODY — The Summer Eats program at Haven from Hunger got a helping hand Thursday morning from U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, who stopped by to help pack up meals that will be distributed to local schoolchildren.

During his visit, Markey talked with Program Director Kate Benashski and the staff about a significant increase in demand for food assistance that they have been seeing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This extends to the food pantry as well as daily meals for clients and a children's summer lunch program, which receives some federal funding.

In a previous interview, Corey Jackson, the executive director of Citizens Inn, which runs the Wallis Street food pantry, said the need for summer meals this year has ballooned in the pandemic. He estimated that the program will give out 2,000 to 3,000 meals a week through the summer, up from 160 in a typical year.

On Thursday, Markey praised the staff and volunteers for the work they are doing and pledged his support to keep funds coming from Washington that address food insecurity in local communities.

Markey is running for re-election this fall against Congressman Joe Kennedy III in the Democratic Primary.

~ John Castelluccio

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