Drive organizers hope people will accept food

by Dan Mac Alpine

IPSWICH — Getting food to Ipswich people who need it will be the goal of a new collaboration between the Ipswich Y and the Ipswich Business Roundtable.

The program, called Neighbors to Table, will be collecting money in May and granting local discounts to donors through June, while food cards will go out for late spring, summer, and possibly early fall. 

The Roundtable is a group of Ipswich business owners who work to promote town businesses and the town as a destination for food, shopping, and just visiting. 

“We continue to do those kinds of programs that benefit the community,” said Ann Orcutt, a founding member of the Roundtable who owns AnnTiques on South Main Street. 

The Roundtable sponsored a Pot of Gold giveaway for St. Patrick’s Day and an Easter promotion as well.

The deadly COVID-19 virus has slowed the economy and thrown many people out of work. The 2020 unemployment rate was 6.9 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a record high of 14.7 percent in April of 2020. 

Through the collaboration, customers will donate a minimum of $10 to the drive at roughly 20 participating Roundtable member businesses.

The donors will then receive a purchase discount at all participating businesses. Individual owners will determine the specific discount for their establishments.

Donors will receive a discount card good through June. Show the card when making a purchase at a participating business and receive the discount.

Several people organizing Neighbors to Table said part of the program’s goal was to eliminate any stigma associated with food banks. Some said they knew of Ipswich people going to the Accord Food Pantry in Hamilton so they wouldn’t be seen in town accepting food. 

The Y will use the donations to buy cards good at Marini’s Farm on Linebrook Road, the Three Sisters Farm on Jeffrey’s Neck Road, Appleton Farms on County Road, and Russell Orchards on Argilla Road.

Other local farms may also participate. Shaw’s on High Street, the Green Grocer on Market Street, and Market Basket on Route 1 in Rowley could also be part of the program.

Chris Bevilaqua, executive director of the Ipswich YMCA, said the Y was looking to “support as many of local food purveyors as possible.”

“The whole drive is basically spearheaded by our wanting to unite the different retail businesses in town,” Betsy Frost said. 

Frost owns Betsy Frost Design, the gift and jewelry shop on Market Street. She is a member of the Ipswich Y board of directors and a member of the Ipswich Business Roundtable. 

The Y will also include the schools in a food drive. The Green Team, a club of 41 high school and middle school students, already has three refrigerators — one at town hall, one at Zumi’s at 40 Market Street, and one at the Y — where people can take food, no questions asked, said Amy Farr Borgman, Green Team parent advisor.

The schools will collect food, and the Neighbors to Table program will collect monetary donations. 

Bevilaqua said the Y was looking to work with the Accord Food Pantry in Hamilton, the Open Door in Ipswich, and the Ipswich schools to identify families who need food. 

‘We’ve worked with the local food pantries because their shelves may not be as well stocked this time of year as they are in the holiday season,” Bevilaqua said.