Inside North Shore Moving Market’s Journey and The Salem Pantry’s Next Chapter – A Conversation with Matthew Xiarhos

We sat down with Matthew Xiarhos, North Shore Moving Market’s longest-standing volunteer at the time of its closure. Matthew has played a key role in transitioning their home delivery operations to The Salem Pantry. In this interview, Matthew shares insights about his experience and how he, along with four other volunteers, are continuing to dedicate their time to delivering groceries through The Salem Pantry.


Can you tell us about North Shore Moving Market and your role there?

“I think it was 2014-15 that I started. I had retired and was looking for some stuff to do, have some structure, do something constructive. And so, I started volunteer driving. And it was a very simple program. “

“I’d go in on Wednesdays and do a route maybe 10 or 12 different people in the area…and then occasionally, I would go out to Lowell and do a run to The Merrimack Valley Food Bank, where I would load up the car, bring it back and load the shelves at the warehouse.”

“Over the time I was there, there was somewhere between 80-100 families we were delivering to in Salem, Peabody and Beverly, and what we did was one delivery per month, per family.”


When did you realize that you might not be able to continue to provide your service?

“Tom Scully (Executive Director, North Shore Moving Market ) came in to take over operations and asked me to take a look at the finances, because I’ve got a finance background…and what we saw was as it got more difficult to find funding and grants and donors, the expenses kept going up…we had reached a point where it was going underwater.”

“That’s when all of us scrambled and stepped up to try to figure out what it is we needed to do. And we were lucky we got a very large donation from friend of one of our volunteers and did a fundraising mailing between October and the end of the year and were able to get things settled and have enough left over to wrap things up.”


 Is there anything about how North Shore Moving Market provided home delivery that you hope will continue now that The Salem Pantry has taken over?

“So there is one thing that I think would be helpful and that would be the team approach, which is that one person navigates, and another volunteer jumps outs out and makes the delivery, and then you are on to the next stop. One of the things that each of our drivers has reiterated to me is that they really like the team approach that we’ve always had.”


Now that you have begun working with The Salem Pantry what are your initial impressions of our work?

“Well obviously the very first thing is it’s a huge amount of food in comparison to what we were able to give people…we would go in with a small bag of food that might be 4 or 5 cans of maybe a protein, a couple of vegetables and things like that. We never had any frozen meals or food…never any fresh fruits or vegetables.”

“Sometimes if we went out to the food bank and they didn’t have very much for us, we obviously wouldn’t have much for our bags. The drivers, myself included, would be apologetic like I’m sorry we don’t have very much this week.

“….When we did our first run for our clients just last week…people were like, is this all for me? Oh my goodness, this is amazing. Look at all of this.”

“So our clients are thrilled. They are very very thrilled.”


What would you like any potential home delivery volunteers to know about providing food to the elderly and disabled in our community?

“So one of the things I would suggest to any volunteers, particularly those that are retired, perhaps, is that volunteering provides just tremendous structure and the sense that you’re contributing back to the community. And it won’t take very long for you to realize that you’re doing a lot of good and that it’s very, very appreciated by the people that you’re serving. “

“For younger people that might want to volunteer, it’s a little bit different angle, but equally as important, plus, it’s a great thing you can put on a resume.”


Some final thoughts

“One thing I didn’t mention is that everybody that I’ve met at the pantry I’ve instantly liked…all the way to the volunteers, everybody has been really nice. And that’s what I liked about the organization and one of the reasons why I was really invested in making this transition….It would be really a great win for the clients and our drivers would move into an organization that’s just really well run and where everybody’s heart is in the right place”

We would like to extend a special thank you to Matthew and the entire team at North Shore Moving Market for their dedication to providing food in our community over the years.

Are you inspired by Matthew’s story? Consider joining our The Salem Pantry’s volunteer team and help nourish our community through home delivery, The Market and more!