The Merrimack Valley Food Bank serves as a vital source of food to pantries and meal programs throughout the region, in addition to the direct program offerings they provide to individuals and families in need. The most recent $5,000 grant from the People’s United Community Foundation, the charitable arm of People’s United Bank, is helping to fund their ongoing programs and services.

Food provided by MVFB supplements what recipients can provide for themselves, allowing them to direct their limited resources toward other basic needs and supplies. In fiscal 2020, MVFB’s food-distribution program served more than 45,000 individuals each month, distributing 3.96 million pounds of food — equal to almost 3.3 million meals, in more than 30 communities.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has risen to more than 60,000 each month.

MVFB continues to operate direct-service programs, continually expanding the number of clients receiving deliveries from the Mobile Pantry and adjusted the school-based distribution of the Operation Nourish program (1,200 students at 22 schools) when schools moved to remote learning in 2020.

“We are so grateful to the People’s United Community Foundation for their ongoing support,” added Amy L. Pessia, executive director of the Merrimack Valley Food Bank. “Food-insecurity levels have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we at MVFB are determined to continue meeting the needs of everyone in our community who is not sure where their next meal will come from. This gift from People’s United will be instrumental in allowing us to continue working toward that goal.”

Also receiving financial support from the People’s United Community Foundation is Danvers-based Care Dimensions, which received a $25,000 grant.

Care Dimensions is the largest hospice and palliative-care provider in Massachusetts. The will support expansion of the agency’s telemedicine care capabilities.

Telemedicine became a lifeline of care continuity and support during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person patient visits were often limited or not possible due to safety precautions. In non-pandemic times, the technology also will help Care Dimensions supplement in-person visitation and provide immediate video visits during crises or for continuity of care for future patients, which will improve the patient and family experience.

Keeping seriously ill patients secure in their homes also helps community hospitals and health organizations preserve resources for acute and emergency cases and helps them guard against becoming overwhelmed with chronic cases, a function that became paramount during the increased cases and surges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been proud to partner with Care Dimensions since 1991, supporting them in carrying out their important work,” Sullivan said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only further highlighted the important role they are playing in communities — and now in homes — throughout Massachusetts.”