Food-insecure residents on the North Side of Atlantic Beach now have access to even more services as the Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry (BEAM) reopens its recently expanded Mayport Pantry and Service Center.
BEAM began renovations in the fall of 2019 to expand pantry operations to include desks for in-person support. Construction was completed in March 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans to reopen the site.
Two years later, BEAM customers are now able to not only access the Mayport Pantry, but can also schedule appointments for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit assistance, nutrition counseling with BEAM’s Registered Dietician and emergency financial assistance.
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“While our Mayport Pantry has been a community resource since 2014, we are excited to expand our emergency services to a location closer to our neighbors living in the Mayport/Atlantic Beach areas,” said Lori Richards, Executive Director of BEAM. . “I recently spoke with a lady who lives in Atlantic Beach and she was so excited that she could ride her bike to the Mayport Pantry and Service Center for SNAP benefit assistance.”
Since 2014, the Mayport Food Pantry has operated as BEAM’s second food pantry location and the first food pantry is located at BEAM’s main office in Jacksonville Beach. Food-insecure people living or working in BEAM’s service area can call to schedule an appointment for either location. BEAM’s service area includes the zip codes of Mayport, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra Beach and San Pablo.
A grand reopening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony for BEAM’s Mayport Pantry and Service Center, located at 1447 Mayport Road in Atlantic Beach, will be held on Friday, April 1 from 2-3:30 p.m.
Last year, BEAM food bank and pantry locations distributed more than 1.1 million pounds of food, or 924,608 meals, to local neighbors in need. In 2021, more than 1,150 households received pantry assistance and 28% were new customers, 33% had at least one senior residing in the home and 11% were veterans. BEAM Food Pantry appointments have increased by 33% since 2019.
Its collective impact within the Beaches community can be seen in the agency’s recently released 2021 Annual “Gratitude” Report, which provides comprehensive data on BEAM’s comprehensive emergency services and the demographics of clients assisted. last year.
“Despite the ongoing challenges of the COVID pandemic, BEAM continues to experience exciting progress and growth. We pride ourselves on meeting our customers where they are and finding innovative ways to meet their greatest needs,” said 2021 Board Chair Janice Kiernan. “But BEAM’s work could not continue without the support of our partners, including our volunteers and donors. Our community is the backbone of everything BEAM can do.
BEAM also subsidized more than $1.1 million in overdue rent and utility bills, preventing 1,011 families from losing their homes last year. Forty-three percent of financial assistance clients in 2021 requested assistance for the first time, 35 percent received assistance for more than a month (with proof of loss of income due to COVID -19) and 19 percent were single mothers.
“In just two years, BEAM’s median rental assistance payment has gone from $515 to $1,000,” Richards said. “We are extremely grateful to all of our donors, volunteers and community members who have stepped up to help us meet this important need over the past two years.
BEAM’s impact on the local community in 2020 was recognized with the Jacksonville Business Journal’s inaugural Community Impact Award, given for ingenuity, thoughtfulness and a sense of community service demonstrated during the pandemic, as well as the major impact that basic services have had on local families. in need.
To learn more, visit JaxBEAM.org.