Voices of the Bay

Feeding the East Bay All Year Round

David Cioe and the Bristol County Elks Lodge noticed a need beyond holiday-based food donation and filled it

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‘Tis the season when local charities donate food baskets to the hungry. But long after the holiday decorations have been put away, Barrington resident David Cioe is still working, with his fellow Elks from The Bristol County Lodge #1860, to ensure that there is food year-round for those in need. In 2008 a $10,000 grant from the Elks National Foundation seeded David’s vision of East Bay Cares, a 501(c)8 and a 501(c)3 which purchases and delivers food to soup kitchens, food pantries and individuals from Riverside to Portsmouth.

David is the owner of Warren business DC Industrial Sales, which sells mechanical electrical supplies to industrial accounts across New England, and Columbus Fan & Machine, which he bought and relocated from Ohio in the late ‘80s and which has some of the biggest motor clients in the US, including GE and Teco-Westinghouse. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Electronics (RISE), David continued his studies with training programs in the field and attended Roger Williams University for business. He and his wife Paula have two grown daughters. David can be reached at 401-245-3330 or DCIndust@AOL.com

I would deliver the Elks Baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was tough to see how much people needed and appreciated the food. I kept thinking, These people need to eat all year long. What do they do the rest of the year? I applied for a grant from Elks National. East Bay Cares is now considered a model for other Elks lodges across the country as well as for other agencies.

A lot of people in the East Bay live in a bubble. They think no one needs help. We get requests almost daily from soup kitchens, churches, food pantries. We also work with police and fire departments who know of people who are too proud to ask for help.

We run a raffle every Saturday at Broadway Merrill Lounge in East Providence. It helps support our work. We make sure donations are stretched to buy as much as possible. Pasta, sauce, tuna, peanut butter, jelly and canned fruit are all things families can use for more than one meal. Bristol’s Seabra is very kind to us. Rice is not as popular in the East Bay as pasta, so we will trade rice for pasta to an agency in Providence where rice is popular. Nothing goes to waste.

A few years back I was doing an indoctrination at the Bristol Elks. A woman told me she had once been down and out. She had received a food basket. It touched her. Today her family is doing okay and she supports our work.