Quincy food pantry closes after heating system shuts down during extreme cold

QUINCY, Mass. — A heating system failure on the coldest day of the winter forced a Quincy food pantry to shut down Tuesday at a time of record-high need.

Staff posted signs out front at Interfaith Social Services, translating them into Chinese for the large Asian community they serve.

“It’s just very, very cold,” said Communications Manager Jennifer Sammons. “Unfortunately, we know we have mouths to feed, but we also have to think about keeping our staff and volunteers safe.”

The building has two heating systems, but one the one that heats the pantry has been struggling for the past couple weeks until finally shutting down Tuesday.

Staff had been trying to schedule repairs, but it became clear the entire heating system would need to be replaced – an unexpected expense for a non-profit that survives off community and business donations as well as grants.

“A $27,000 expense, we would’ve much rather spent that on fresh produce or milk or meat, diapers, things like that for our clients,” Sammons said. “But now we’re going to have to obviously spend it on getting a new heating system.”

Interfaith Social Services, which is open on weekday mornings and Wednesday evenings, provides food and personal care items for about 50 households each day and roughly 1,000 each month, Sammons said.

Some families had to be turned away Tuesday. Staff advised them to return Wednesday.

Although the heating system won’t be replaced until Saturday, temperatures are expected to rise Wednesday and render conditions in the pantry more bearable to work.

“It’s still going to be cold in here tomorrow,” Sammons said Tuesday. “We’re going to tell everyone to wear their hats and gloves. But yes, we plan to be open tomorrow for a normal food pantry shift.”

Those who want to donate to Interfaith Social Services can do so here: Donate - Interfaith Social Services.