Lawmakers and nonprofit leaders cut the ribbon on a new regional food pantry in Lynn Thursday, a site that’s hoping to get food to 250 families per day and serve as a one-stop shop for crucial local services.

The 3,600-square-foot facility was developed by the Boston nonprofit Catholic Charities, in collaboration with members of the Lynn Food Security Task Force, which ties 15 local nonprofits, charities and city services into one group. It will be housed within the Greater Lynn Senior Services building.

"This food pantry here is something that we've wanted for a long time and we're so delighted that it's coming about," Boston's archbishop Cardinal Seán O'Malley said at the ceremony. "We know that one in five residents of Lynn experience food insecurity, which leads to higher occurrence of chronic illnesses and so many other problems. Most school families here qualify for free- or subsidized-lunch program, and we know that hunger profoundly affects children's ability to learn, thrive and be healthy."

The food — which includes non-perishables, produce and refrigerated goods — is mainly sourced through the Greater Boston Food Bank, along with local hunger nonprofits, parishes and residents.

Lynn Mayor Jared Nicholson added that residents will soon not only be able to access food at the pantry but other resources through the city's Phoenix Food Hub, another effort from the Lynn task force.

"[The food hub] is going to have a test kitchen, storage and loading dock space, dietitian and nutritionists, program space," Nicholson said. "And it's also connected with referrals to other needs like rental assistance, health care. ... It's part of a larger effort to support our residents."

The program will operate with help from staff at Catholic Charities and residents in the community.

"Volunteers are the backbone of this operation," Catholic Charities Vice President of Basic Needs Beth Chambers said. "So it will take a handful of volunteers every day, every week, to help us to get everything ready on the shelves and help those coming through for food."

Chambers said she is hoping some of those volunteers will come from students from St. Mary's School in Lynn, who attended the ceremony.

City, non-profit and religious leaders gather for a ribbon cutting at the Catholic Charities Food Pantry in Lynn.
Rachel Armany GBH News
"We know that hunger profoundly affects children's ability to learn, thrive and be healthy."
- Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston

Catholic Charities CEO Kevin MacKenzie said the expansion of services offered by the pantry will happen in several phases throughout the coming months.

"This will have a major impact on food insecurity and provide an estimated 10,400 people with 217,000 meals in the first year, and then we will likely double the capacity in subsequent years," he said.

The pantry officially opens to the public on Friday at 8 Silsbee Street. Its hours will be Mondays and Wednesdays 9 a.m.–12 p.m./1 p.m.–3 p.m., and Fridays 9 a.m.–12 p.m.