The Beehive Food Program of the Masonic Angel Foundation will deliver its 4,000th supplemental food package this week. Beehive Food began in April 2012 to fill a need for families in need of supplemental food packages.
School staff reported that kids were coming to school hungry or parents were suffering food anxiety. For many households some temporary setback or the seasonal economy left the family unable to buy all the food they need. For others with an ongoing need, the family might not have been able to get all the food they needed from area food pantries.
"Beehive provides a supplemental food package with high-yield, non-perishable items," said Masonic Angel Foundation co-founder and president Robert Fellows. "It's intended as a supplement to get them past an obstacle."
The Masons procure the food from Dollar Tree in Dennisport, where store staff work hard to provide the Masonic Angels with the best yield on each package. For example, this month's food packages included 24 ounce packs of pasta (instead of 16 ounce), "50% More" packages of Mac & Cheese and also 50% more packs of toilet tissue.
As with most projects of the Masonic Angel Foundation, Beehive launched very fast. "We were holding a Lodge open house one winter weekend in 2012 and started talking amongst ourselves about the high number of grocery card requests we had received that winter. We took a look at the numbers and decided it made more sense to get in front of the problem by providing food packages before an emergency request was made," said longtime volunteer Randy Chow. Within a few weeks the Masons had everything in place and delivered their first food packages to schools in the Nauset region.
The program can serve anywhere from 40 to 100 families a month depending on what the schools need. "We scale up and down as the needs rise and fall in our seasonal economy," reports Adam Menges, Master of Universal Lodge in Orleans.
As with all Masonic Angel Foundation programs, Beehive is volunteer operated. Thanks to partnerships with The Federated Church of Orleans, Cape Cod Five Charitable Foundation, Balise Motor Sales, Convention Data Services, Eastham Ace Hardware, Hyannis Honda and many other generous donors, the Beehive Food Program is 100% funded by local grants. Food is delivered to participating schools from Wellfleet to Falmouth, with the assistance of local Masonic Angel Fund chapters sponsored by Masonic Lodges in each town.
The Dollar Tree store in Dennisport is a key partner in the program. "The professionalism and resourcefulness of our friends at Dollar Tree are a great part of Beehive's success," reports Mr. Fellows. "Dollar Tree organizes and stages a very complicated purchase for us every month, to an extent where we can be in and out of the store with hundreds of items in under 15 minutes."
The program has three groups of volunteers - those that purchase and transport the food, the "Beehive Sunday" team that assembles the packages and then a group that delivers the packages to area schools.
The Beehive Food Program has spawned other programs under its banner, including Beehive School Tools and Beehive Winter Coats. Beehive School Tools has provided over 3,100 school supply packages since 2013. This winter the Beehive Winter Coat Program provided over 430 winter coats to local children.