From its inception in 1984 as an emergency food pantry with a single location at St. Paul’s Church, the Brookline Food Pantry has grown to meet the increasing need of those in our town who are food insecure. We now serve over 600 households each week at our three locations, as well as an average of 400+ students through our Thrives weekend food program. Our clients represent every age and background, including children and seniors, recent immigrants and longtime residents, the well and the disabled. The Food Pantry has become a key player in our town.
Anu Advani is a long time Brookline resident with a family background in feeding people. After retiring as a Math Specialist from the Lawrence School, volunterring at the Brookline Food Pantry was a natural fit. Anu is also a Hospitality Homes Host and board member, and a The Lily House volunteer. She’s a Pickleboard Board and a Diadem Ambassador.
Katie Bacon is a writer and editor, as well as a college consultant and writing specialist for Educational Advocates. She lives with her family in Brookline, and volunteers regularly for the Food Pantry, as well as for Beacon Academy, coaching Greater Boston students through the application process for independent schools as a way to help close the opportunity gap.
Catherine Burke has lived in Brookline since 1990 with her husband, daughter, son, and various dogs. She worked as a production editor and copy editor in educational publishing before turning to volunteering. She has served as Driscoll School PTO co-chair, Runkle School PTO co-chair, Brookline Soccer Club board member, a member of the Green Dog Subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Commission, and as a reader to summer campers at Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center in Dorchester. Most recently she completed 7 years on the board of the Brookline Education Foundation, the last 3 as President, and remains on the BEF Advisory Board. She became involved with the Food Pantry as a volunteer for Brookline Thrives and continues to help out there as well as in the main Pantry when she is not walking Teddy, the family labradoodle, or riding her Peloton bike.
Gordon Cromwell and his wife, Wendy, have been involved with the Pantry as donors for many years and for the past five Gordon has volunteered at all the locations and also driven the truck to the Greater Boston Food Bank on occasion. Gordon is retired after a 25 year career in finance in the investment banking and asset management sectors, with the last 10 years as an analyst and investor at The Boston Company. Wendy and Gordon moved to Brookline with their two children in 2006. In addition to the Pantry, Gordon is also on the Board of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.
Gaëlle From, Board Treasurer
Gaëlle From, following her career in finance in France and the UK, moved to Brookline in 2006 with her husband and two sons – both Brookline High Alumni. Gaelle has enjoyed serving her community through volunteering on the PTO and also at the Food Pantry.
Mini Kolluri has been a resident of Brookline for the last 16 years, and recently joined the Food Pantry board. Originally a native of Mumbai, Mini moved to NYC to complete her MBA, and worked in the financial services industry. She has been an active volunteer in several local organizations including her neighborhood association, the Brookline Community Foundation, and PTOs at Runkle Elementary and Brookline High School. Mini lives in Brookline with her family which includes her husband, son, who is now at college, and dog.
Susan Martin, Board Chair
Susan Martin’s career spanned several years at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and then transitioned to the high-tech world where she led a small consulting company. Since retiring, she has been on the boards of Climate Action Brookline, Choral Arts New England, and the Metropolitan Chorale (where she is also a long-time singer). She began volunteering at the Food Pantry in 2016, and joined the Board in 2019. She’s lived in Brookline since 1973 and has three grown sons.
Nathaniel Mason grew up in Brookline. His kids also grew up attending the Heath School and Brookline High School. Nathaniel became interested in helping out at the food pantry after his teenage daughter volunteered throughout the Pandemic. Nathaniel has worked in real estate finance for over twenty years. Nathaniel has put his focus and efforts at the Brookline Food Pantry primarily into the Development Committee. He is also on the board of the Brookline Center. He lives in Brookline with his wife, two children and their very friendly dog Zephyr.
Joe Ranft has lived in Brookline for 22 years. He started with the Food Pantry by driving and loading the food truck. His twin sons attended Driscoll School and Brookline High School. He has coached baseball, basketball and soccer in Brookline. He’s a past member of the board of the Brookline Education Foundation and the founding team of the Brookline Teen Center. Joe is VP of Product and Design at Allurion Technologies. He lives in Washington Square with is wife Katie, twin sons Hal and Wes, and their dog Enzo.
Lisa has been volunteering with the Brookline Food Pantry since 2012 as the Community Service Head at Florida Ruffin Ridley School. She coordinated the bi-annual food drives for BFP with the students, teachers and families. She has also been a Host Committee Member for the Pantry Party.
She has been on the Brookline Education Foundation Board where she served on the Executive Committee and Co-Chaired Fundraising. She has been involved with the Ridley School PTO and will continue to co-chair the BHS Teacher Appreciation Events.
She is currently a consultant for The Conversation, a non-profit/independent news outlet whose mission is to democratize knowledge for the public good. She has been an elementary teacher, business founder, nonprofit fundraiser, and event director. She has a B.A. from Tufts University and a Master of Education from Harvard University. She has been a Brookline resident for the past 22 years and currently lives with her husband, 2 teenage girls and a 3-year-old Maltese dog.
Anne Turner, Board Secretary
Anne Turner is a long-time donor and started volunteering at the Pantry during COVID. She knows Brookline well having lived here since the ‘80s and held leadership roles on Extended Day Boards and the Brookline Community Foundation. Professionally she began her career in the financial services sector but transitioned to aid educational nonprofit organizations with strategic planning and development.
Elizabeth Boen started at the Pantry in 2017 as the Operations Manager, and became Executive Director in 2018. She has a BA from Boston University, and her previous career was in catering and event planning. She has enjoyed engaging with the community by serving as a preschool soccer coach, a Girl Scout Leader, on the Heath PTO, as a Board member for the Brookline Education Foundation, and as a Board Member of the Friends of BHS X Country/ Track and Field. Elizabeth moved to Brookline in 2004, and lives with her husband, daughter and dog Caylee.
Arielle is the Operations Manager at the pantry. She oversees the day to day operations at all three pantry locations, manages the volunteer schedules, and handles client and community relations. Arielle is a Brookline native, an alum of Pierce School and Brookline High. Arielle moved back to Brookline after a number of years in California post college. She has several years of operations experience in the restaurant industry, managing some very well-known restaurants across the country. Arielle is an avid runner and has two daughterd, Regan and Emerson.
Sharon Brockmann moved to Brookline in 2015 from Scotland, UK and began volunteering at Runkle School where her two children were enrolled. Sharon was the PTO co-chair, newsletter editor, webmaster, PTO directory coordinator, plus various leadership roles in fund raising activities, school support and school-wide events. Sharon first volunteered with Brookline Thrives in 2019 and is now the incoming Project Manager for Thrives. In her spare time Sharon is the Team Captain for the Brookline Griffin Warriors Catchball team and has a passion for yoga. Before moving to Brookline Sharon worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 15 years, graduating from Strathclyde University with a MSc in Environmental Sciences.
Even in Brookline, with one of the highest single home prices in the state, there is hunger. Too many of our neighbors face food insecurity.
In 1984, after some conversation among the Brookline clergy regarding our response to persons with food needs, it was decided to put together a group discussion with clergy, school social workers and front-line Town services. St. Paul’s was suggested for a location and, following Vestry approval, it was established as a de-facto ministry of St. Paul’s and was named the “Brookline Emergency Food Pantry.” Other congregations undertook to collect and deliver canned and dried food and help with promoting the Pantry in the community. In the beginning there were no hours, and no volunteers beyond the rector, secretary and sexton.
In October of 2003, St. Paul’s applied to be a member of the Greater Boston Food Bank and began offering more products and purchasing food to distribute to those in need. In December 2014, the Pantry incorporated as a 501(c)3 and dropped the word “Emergency” from its name as it became a consistent and stable food source for those in need.
At least 11%, or 6,000, Brookline residents live below the poverty level and 24%, or 14,000, face economic insecurity. To meet these needs, the Pantry opened its second site, 55A Egmont Street in May of 2015 and its third site, 226 High Street, in April 2020. Both the Egmont High Street pantries were opened in housing developments and with the partnership of Brookline Housing Authority (BHA). In the summer of 2021, the pantry saw that it had outgrown St. Paul’s and moved to expanded accommodations at United Parish on Harvard Street.
In August 2018, Kim Kushner brought the idea of Brookline Thrives to the Food Pantry Board, with the goal to provide weekend food backpacks for Brookline students each week. The Board decided to support the concept and Kim worked tirelessly to build the program to where it is now, serving BEEP and all eight of Brookline’s K-8 schools. The struggle to meet basic needs, including food, has a direct impact on the academic performance of Brookline students. Using a large network of volunteers, Thrives fills the gap where school meals leave off, providing breakfast and lunch over the weekend throughout the school year. Kim will be stepping down from Thrives in June 2023 and turning over management of the program to Sharon Brockmann. We are deeply indebted to Kim and to her commitment in making this program such a success.
In May 2018 Elizabeth Boen became the Brookline Food Pantry’s full-time Executive Director, succeeding long-time Executive Director Rene Feuerman, who assumed the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors. This represented the first fully paid position for the BFP, and was made possible by the partnership and support of the Brookline Community Foundation and the Hamilton Foundation whose grants fully funded the ED job for its first year. The Pantry now has six full-time staff, supported by a number of part-time staff as well as a cohort of over 150 volunteers. In addition, the Thrives program has a full-time Program Manager supported by 60 volunteers.