From Metrowest Daily News (Jun. 1, 2015): ASHLAND – Families that come to the Ashland Food Pantry soon will get access to healthier food thanks to a new refrigerator that will expand options beyond the usual non-perishables and other canned goods.

With help from the Greater Boston Food Bank grant, the pantry just got a 18-cubic-foot electric cooler that will hold fresh meat and produce. It will also carry leftovers from the Ashland Farmers Market, which opens June 13.

“This will really increase options for people,” said Youth and Family Services Director Cara Tirrell.

The Greater Boston Food Bank gave Ashland an $825 grant, half the cost of the cooler, which was purchased from Belcher’s Appliance in Framingham. The Board of Selectmen covered the other half from its gift account.

According to Greater Boston Food Bank spokeswoman Catherine Drennan, those grants, called Agency Capacity grants, are designed to help member pantries improve their services. The food bank gave out grants of varying amounts to 35 agencies this year.

“The cooler the Ashland Food Pantry is receiving will help the organization have greater capacity for and to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables to be made accessible to their clients,” said Drennan in an email.

The food bank’s goal is to distribute 25 percent more produce this year over last year.

Tirrell will put in the summer’s first food bank order on June 3 which will include fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich foods, hummus, yogurt and meat. The cooler will also let the pantry carry produce year-round. The pantry currently doesn’t carry produce in the winter.

The Ashland pantry will keep the cooler at the front, giving people a chance to pick their own produce and give the pantry a “farmers market feel,” said Tirrell.

“We can really showcase it and continue to educate people about good choices,“ she said.

Anamika Roy can be reached at 508-626-3957 or Follow her on Twitter @anamikaroy.