Warehouse Manager Keeps Food Distribution Humming

Warehouse manager keeps food distribution humming

The Lowell Sun

Food distribution is the major operation of the Merrimack Valley Food Bank. Through this program, 3 million pounds of food are distributed annually through a network of member agency programs that include food pantries, shelters, meals programs as well as day and residential programs. Food distribution helps us eliminate hunger and maintain good health for our neighbors in numerous communities in Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.

The MVFB receives food to distribute through donations along with federal and state emergency food assistance programs. The Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP) provides food to qualified food banks, and the Federal Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP/USDA) allows federal bulk purchasing of food to qualified food banks.

When the MVFB receives food from these two programs, the food is stored and then distributed to our member agencies serving low-income individuals and families. Some of these agencies include Lazarus House, Alternative House, Girls Inc., Lowell Transitional Living Center, the Salvation Army and many more.

The Merrimack Valley Food bank is a 20,000 square foot warehouse located at 735 Broadway St. here in Lowell. It has three floors of dry storage space, two walk-in freezers, as well as a walk-in refrigerator approximately 1500 square feet with a vertical racking storage system. With this amount of space, and the amount of food constantly coming in and going out on a daily basis, the MVFB is certainly blessed to have Tony Luna as warehouse manager.

Tony is one of those all-around guys with an infectious smile and has a constant willingness to help. This is a tremendous quality he received from his parents, who emigrated from Mexico and didn’t have much but made people happy by helping, which had a great impact on Tony as a child.

As MVFB warehouse manager, Tony is responsible for scheduling pick-ups of donations from stores like Market Basket, Stop & Shop and other companies as well as making sure there is someone available to make the pick-up. He also handles the flow of our 120 member agencies coming in to shop. When MEFAP or TEFAP/USDA deliveries occur, Tony and his assistants unload the trucks and he designates where everything will be stored, and makes sure that the stock gets rotated.

Tony is a missionary minister and was once director of Central Food Ministry (CFM) in the Centralville neighborhood of Lowell. One of Tony’s fondest memories and inspirations was the late Kevin Meier, who was homeless. Kevin wanted Tony to assist him in starting a homeless ministry for everyone in need on the Merrimack River. For three years, Tony and Kevin filled bags and delivered on foot. To this day, Tony recalls Kevin saying “if you see the need and don’t do it SOMETHING is wrong with you!”

Dacey Zouzas is director of development for the Merrimack Valley Food Bank, Inc. (MVFB), which operates eight food programs that benefit low-income individuals and families who lack the financial resources to purchase sufficient quantities of nutritious foods while struggling to pay other household expenses. For information about MVFB, call 978-454-7272 or visit www.mvfb.org
Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/lifestyles/ci_27255781/warehouse-manager-keeps-food-distribution-humming#ixzz3O4T0p4Pn

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