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July 25, 2008

CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
(617) 961-6682


Recently, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department made it possible for a group of ten staff members and employees to participate as volunteers at the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Working to sort and pack a variety of foods that were donated by local grocery stores, Superintendent of the House of Correction Gerard Horgan, Deputy Superintendent of Custody Assessment Gerry Walsh, Deputy Director of External Affairs Ed Geary, Jr., Major Marie Lockhart, Captain Mike Powers, House of Correction Librarian Forest Turner, Officers Rachel Fuller and Jack Feeney, Julie Kotzen of the Education Division, and Public Information Officer Peter Van Delft all took part in orientation before taking to the floor to assist Food Bank officials.

The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) – located at 99 Atkinson Street in Boston – is the largest hunger–relief organization in New England and one of the largest food banks in the United States. The GBFB is a distributor of approximately 30 million pounds of food and grocery products annually to a network of more than 600 member hunger–relief agencies. It is a resource for local food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless and residential shelters, youth programs, senior centers, and day–care centers, providing the food they need to feed the hungry among the 190 communities they serve.

After a few hours of sorting and packing, Food Bank officials reported that the day’s volunteers had sorted a total of 9,295 pounds of food. Though 20% of it was sorted into the refuse pile, officials credited volunteers with packing 7,436 lbs. of useable food, which will be good for 5,720 meals that will be distributed among people in need.

For members of the Sheriff’s Department, it is the first of what will be several planned visits to the Food Bank.

As organizer of the Department’s contingent of volunteers, Depty. Supt. Walsh anticipates that the collaboration with the Food Bank will lead to success on a number of fronts.

“Sheriff Cabral has been great in allowing us to come out,” said Walsh. “We really wanted to do this for a few different reasons. First, we wanted to help raise awareness about hunger and the great need that exists for places like the Food Bank. It’s also a great opportunity to team build with people from different divisions coming together to volunteer.”

“And finally,” Walsh continued, “we wanted to be more neighborly. With the new building, the Food Bank will be sited even closer to the House of Correction and it makes sense for us to build a better relationship. I thought that this would be a great opportunity and we’re doing it for a great cause.”

Catherine D’Amato, GBFB President and CEO, attended the orientation where she expressed her gratitude over the Department’s participation during the orientation, saying, “We’re glad to have the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department here with us. The Sheriff’s Department has been very helpful during the construction of our new building, and now they’re here helping out as volunteers.”

According to Kelly Sajous, GBFB Supervisor of Volunteers, having organizations come in to donate their time is not only appreciated, it’s essential.

“Volunteers are very, very important to the Food Bank,” Sajous said. “We’re a little bit down on our donations right now, but we always rely heavily on our volunteers to sort and pack the donations. They’re extremely important and we’re glad to have them here.”

Following the Department’s inaugural effort as volunteers with the Food Bank, one participant offered his succinct summary of the day’s work.

“This is a good experience,” said Captain Powers. “I think that everyone should come down and do it.”

To find out how you can become a volunteer or donor for the Greater Boston Food Bank, visit or call (617) 427-5200.

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