As the holidays roll around and the season of giving is upon us, the Boston Public Library (BPL) has announced a Spice Bank Collective in partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) in an effort to provide more diversity and variety in offerings at local food banks.
The Gazette spoke with Stephanie Chace, Nutritional Literacy Coordinator for the BPL, to learn more about the program.
Chace said she has noticed that food pantries and banks have had a shortage of spices and dried herbs, and she thought that starting a spice bank collective “could really be a way for people to have more agency with the food they prepare for themselves.”
In 2019, the program was piloted at the Faneuil Branch of the BPL, and garnered 135 containers of spices and dried herbs, which were then sent to the ABCD food pantry in the neighborhood.
“Folks using the pantry at the time were really excited about being able to have spices as an option,” Chase said.
The program is now being extended to 20 branches plus the Central branch in Copley Square.
Chase also said that with food pantries offering more kinds of fruits and vegetables and grains, being able to have different spices would give people a way to have “some cultural identity and share family traditions and it would encourage people to be creative in their cooking,”as well as “be a way for people to explore other flavors.”
She said that the Greater Boston Food Bank has “been great in partnership,” and the Newsfeed Cafe in the Central branch will be matching all donations received at the branch.
People interested in donating spices to any of the participating branches can do so at the circulation desk. All containers must be unopened.
Each BPL branch will be choosing a food pantry that they want to sponsor as part of this program, which will extend through 2022.
Participating branches include:
• Adams Street Branch
• Brighton Branch
• Central Library in Copley Square (Newsfeed Café)
• Charlestown Branch
• Codman Square Branch
• Connolly Branch
• East Boston Branch
• Egleston Square
• Fields Corner Branch
• Grove Hall Branch
• Honan-Allston Branch
• Hyde Park Branch
• Jamaica Plain Branch
• Lower Mills Branch
• Mattapan Branch
• North End Branch
• Parker Hill Branch
• Roxbury Branch
• South Boston Branch
• South End Branch
• West End Branch
• West Roxbury Branch
“By providing access to spices, the BPL hopes to offer a way to maintain a sense of cultural identity and family traditions, encourage creative and nutritious cooking, and promote the abundant cultural make up that is found in Massachusetts,” the BPL said in a press release.