Family Pantry Seeks More Parking

by William F. Galvin
The section of trees to the left side of The Family Pantry garden entrance is where a new parking lot would be located. FILE PHOTO The section of trees to the left side of The Family Pantry garden entrance is where a new parking lot would be located. FILE PHOTO

HARWICH – With statistics showing growth in food insecurity on Cape Cod and more families accessing The Family Pantry of Cape Cod facilities on Queen Anne Road, the nonprofit organization is seeking to expand its parking.

Representatives from The Family Pantry will be going before the planning board on Feb.13 seeking a site plan special permit to convert a half acre of town-owned land into a 44-space parking lot to the rear of its facilities at 133 Queen Anne Rd. The lot is located behind 139 Queen Anne Rd. and is in the Industrial Light Zoning District.

The select board last May entered into an agreement with the Family

Pantry to lease the half acre of the 35-acre former town landfill site located behind its warehouse to provide the additional parking.

This is the second lease agreement the nonprofit has made with the town to access land formerly associated with the landfill. Several years ago, an agreement was reached providing land for a vegetable garden to provide produce to the pantry’s nearly 14,000 clients.

The two parcels in the town agreement were not in the area of the former landfill’s active operation and are outside the solar array now generating electricity on the site.

The need for additional parking is being driven by the continued increase in clients at the pantry. According to the project narrative, in 2023 the pantry set new records, serving 13,849 clients, an18 percent increase in visits over the previous year. So far in 2024, the pantry is reporting an additional 18 percent increase in clients over 2023 numbers.

Coupled with increasing client numbers, the pantry needs parking for the 650 volunteers who are instrumental in its operation.

“To accommodate parking for all those volunteers, especially at shift change, The Family Pantry simply needs more space. The lack of parking spaces also negatively impacts our abutting neighbor to the east,” the narrative reads.

“We have 35 to 50 volunteers there and can have 183 families at the same time,” Executive Director Christine Menard said when the select board approved the lease agreement. “This will eliminate shift change angst,”

The parcel being sought for the parking area is to the east of the garden and is covered with trees, which shade about one third of the garden. The trees will have to be removed, providing a side benefit by enhancing the garden’s vegetable production, according to the narrative.

Tree stumps would be removed and T-base would be installed for the parking surface. The parking lot would be built with sufficient solar lighting to ensure safety; the lighting would be directed away from the abutting property. There are no residential properties in the area, according to the narrative.

The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the hearing room at town hall.