The Open Door  
Julie LaFontaine, President and CEO  
28 Emerson Ave.,  
Gloucester, MA 01930  

Media Contact: Kelsey Richards 
Phone: 978-283-6776 x 226 

Tuesday May 14, 2024 

Ipswich Middle School Students Go

the Extra Mile at Walk for Hunger

From left: Sixth grade student Liam McCarthy, The Open Door President and CEO Julie LaFontaine, sixth grade student Theo Melzack, and sixth grade student Jack Bunnell.

(Photo Courtesy of Ipswich Public Schools)

IPSWICH— Ipswich Middle School students walked ten miles to help raise funds for The Open Door Ipswich Community Food Pantry on Friday.  

In all, the Ipswich Middle School Walk for Hunger raised $14,882 for local hunger-relief programs of The Open Door. More than 300 sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students took part, walking from High Street to Great Neck and back.  

“Year after year, it’s so moving to see how enthusiastic students at Ipswich Middle are to go the extra mile and raise funds to help connect their neighbors to fresh, healthy food,” President and CEO Julie LaFontaine said. “This tradition really exemplifies how joyful giving, through a donation or your time or both, can be.” 

In 2023, The Open Door met a 30% increase in requests for food assistance through its food pantries. The nonprofit helped stabilize the lives and health of 9,836 people from 4,952 households through the distribution of 1.98 million pounds of food last year.  

Its Ipswich Community Food Pantry, located at 00 Southern Heights, distributed 149,000 pounds of food to 562 people.  

“The Annual Walk For Hunger is part of the very fabric of the Ipswich Middle School,” said Superintendent Brian Blake. “Although the weather didn’t cooperate with our original date, we are thrilled to be able complete the walk for the benefit of our community. I’m proud of our students and staff who put so much into making the Walk for Hunger a success.” 

Friday’s Walk for Hunger was originally scheduled for April 12, but postponed due to inclement weather.  

“The IMS Walk for Hunger is an important and memorable experience not only for our students, who have raised over $14,000, but also for our whole community,” said Principal Peter Ginolfi. “So much work has gone into the Walk for Hunger between our staff who taught the students about food insecurity and will be walking with the students, to all of the parents who are volunteering snacks, water, and their time at water stations organized by our School Council parents.” 

“However, no one has done more than Gena Bevilacqua, our school adjustment counselor, as the main organizer who has run this event for a number of years,” Ginolfi added. “I would also like to thank BankGloucester who was our largest corporate donor and The Sisters of Notre Dame for their generous contribution.” 

The Ipswich Middle School Walk for Hunger has benefited The Open Door since the nonprofit took over the management of the Ipswich Community Food Pantry in 2016. Each year, students strive to raise $10,000 through the Walk for Hunger. 

About The Open Door  

The mission of The Open Door is to alleviate the impact of hunger in our community. We use practical strategies to connect people to good food, to advocate on behalf of those in need, and to engage others in the work of building food security. 

Founded in 1978, The Open Door is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit and community food resource center for low-income residents of Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, Essex, Ipswich, Hamilton, Boxford, Rowley, Topsfield, and Wenham. In 2023, The Open Door helped stabilize the lives and health of 9,836 people from 4,952 households through the distribution of 1.98 million pounds of food. 

For more information, visit 


From left: Grade 8 students Julia Reed, Natalie Elder, Ava Poire, Lola Morley, Olivia Almond, Zao Scarano, Liam Boss, Matteo Colitti, Sam Harrington, and Rich Lavoie take a break at the last water station at Friday’s Walk for Hunger. (Photo Courtesy of Ipswich Public Schools)
Grade 6 students at their first Walk for Hunger. (Photo Courtesy of Ipswich Public Schools)
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