JUDY WOODRUFF: One Massachusetts couple is on a mission to end hunger in their town of Framingham about 20 miles outside of Boston.
As Tina Martin from PBS member station WGBH reports, their trailer full of food is making a difference in the lives of low-income families. It’s also helping keep their son’s memory alive.
TINA MARTIN: One smile and one plate of food at a time is how David and Alicia Blais of Framingham plan to knock out hunger in their hometown.
ALICIA BLAIS, Co-Founder, Daniel’s Table: Hi. How are you?
DAVID BLAIS, Co-Founder, Daniel’s Table: Over dinner one night, I was talking to Alicia. And I said, what if we just solved it? What would it look like if we just solved hunger in Framingham?
ALICIA BLAIS: You know yourself, when you’re hungry, you don’t study well, you don’t work well, you don’t think straight.
TINA MARTIN: The Greater Boston Food Bank estimates about one in 12 people in Eastern Massachusetts get assistance with food. Many are families with children. That especially touched the couple who started Daniel’s Table two years ago.
DAVID BLAIS: My son Daniel died at birth 21 years ago. And when we started with this project, we thought that we would name it after him. It’s kind of a motivating factor for me.
TINA MARTIN: Their food trailer is designed with a picture of Daniel as his parents picture him. They fill it up and hitch it to their pick up truck and head to different neighborhoods in what’s considered the largest town in the country.
This trailer can serve about 200 to 300 people?
DAVID BLAIS: Right, just about 200 to 300.
TINA MARTIN: And how many times are you going out a week?
DAVID BLAIS: We go out three nights a week with the trailer, and then we do something with the Salvation Army on Saturdays.
TINA MARTIN: We met them in Freddie Franjul’s neighborhood, where seeing the truck is a huge relief.
FREDDIE FRANJUL, Framingham Resident: Actually, it’s a big deal for pretty much family around here, because everyone is on low incomes.
TINA MARTIN: Franjul is a single dad raising three girls.
FREDDIE FRANJUL: Well, like, tonight, we didn’t have to spend money on dinner. And we take advantage of this opportunity over here.
DAVID BLAIS: If we can cover a couple of meals a week for them, then they’re able to manage their budget.
TINA MARTIN: That’s the idea, especially when school is out. These hot dogs and hamburgers often replace meals children would otherwise receive through free lunch programs.
DAVID BLAIS: Summer is probably the most challenging time for some of these kids, because their parents are now going to have to feed them three times a day, instead of just once.
TINA MARTIN: David and Alicia feed close to 1,000 a week for free. Expenses like food, equipment, and gas for the truck add up. They have some donors and something else.
DAVID BLAIS: We pray a lot. It’s probably our — we probably get our strongest response when we do that.
TINA MARTIN: And prayer works. They just bought a bigger trailer that can feed about 3,000 people a day.
Alicia thinks they have an angel watching over them, the son who is always with them in spirit.
ALICIA BLAIS: I think he looks down on and probably helps make it all happen.
TINA MARTIN: For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Tina Martin in Framingham, Massachusetts.
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