By Beth Germano

CHELSEA (CBS) – Feeding the Chelsea community is Gladys Vega’s daily mission, but her food supply has suddenly become scarce. “There’s over 20 messages ‘when are you going to give boxes of food again?’ so the need is huge,” said Vega, executive director of La Colaborativa.

The organization is among nonprofit groups that have been receiving food boxes through a federal program that was launched during the pandemic, but it abruptly ended this week without warning. For four days now, the food pantry has been closed and Vega is growing desperate to help thousands of families.

“It’s a program we were getting and I’m grateful for it, but by not having a heads up I feel like I’ve let down a whole community expecting to be fed,” said Vega.

Gladys Vega (WBZ-TV)

Anna Mejia and Alea Manzano were among the recipients, both mothers with young children dependent on the dairy products and other staples. “I’m so scared, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Mejia. “The children say where are the milk and cheese and everything like that and I have to say I don’t know they’re not open.”

Volunteer Brian Santiago has been delivering 24 boxes a day to needy families, but is now delivering news of another kind. “It takes some courage to tell somebody, look them in the eye and say I’m sorry I don’t have boxes, I don’t have food for you today,” said Santiago.

Food pantry at La Colaborativa in Chelsea (WBZ-TV)

Gladys Vega is now putting out the call for food and donations, knowing what’s on the shelves at the pantry won’t last for too long. “I’m now worried about Monday. When we open the line is going to be much, much bigger because people have gone almost four days without essential things we usually provide,” said Vega.

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Beth Germano