Posted on May 19, 2020
Rotary Club of Needham Newsletter May 19th, 2020
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and mandatory social distancing, most of our volunteer opportunities and community support activities have been postponed. In response, we've continued to fund local and international charities. We've continued to meet on Tuesdays at noon. But, to maintain social distancing, our meetings have moved on-line. 
Speakers: 1.) State Senator Becca Rausch on her 2020 Vote-By-Mail bill, and
2.) Torry Katsiroubas Stamm of Katsiroubas Brothers Wholesale Fruit and Produce on their Katsiroubas Cares Produce Boxes
Senator Rausch (photo left above) discussed the "emergency" bill that she introduced in April to facilitate safe voting by mail during the Coronavirus epidemic. Five states, including: Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii and Utah already automatically send ballots to the addresses of registered voters before elections. The Senator's bill would require the Secretary of the Commonwealth to send a ballot package to every registered voter at least 18 days in advance of a scheduled election. Each ballot package would contain: 1) an official ballot, 2) a secrecy envelope, 3) a prepaid return envelope addressed to the clerk of the town where the voter is registered, and 4) instructions in English, Spanish and three other languages. There would be a warning included about penalties for voter fraud, and the voter would be required to return a signed affidavit attesting that they did not commit voter fraud. 
Voters could still choose to vote in person, and the bill would require the provision of personal protective equipment to poll workers, if the state of emergency due to the coronavirus is still in place at the time of the election. The bill would also establish the first Tuesday in November as a holiday. The 2020 Vote By Mail law is a response to the emergency situation imposed by the coronavirus, so it is written with an expiration date of December 31st, 2020. For the full text of the bill, search in Google for Senator Rausch's official email address is:
Torry Katsiroubas Stamm (photo right above) owns a wholesale produce business, Katsiroubas Brothers, with her brother. The Katsiroubas siblings grew up in Needham, and Torry still lives here. They operate a 100,000 square foot, refrigerated warehouse out of Hyde Park with 200 employees, 70 trucks picking up and delivering within a 180 mile radius, and 1000 customers. They act as a middleman between farms and restaurants, which were about 80% of their business until the coronavirus quarantine. When all restaurants closed, they had to redirect a tidal wave of produce. Breaking the produce volume down into smaller, $25 Katsiroubas Cares produce boxes allowed their business to find retail customers. Each $25 box contains about $40-50 retail value of 3 to 5 items of each category of fruit, vegetables and greens (see photo below). Retail customers can order the produce boxes on line. They've established curbside pickup to serve their new, retail customers in Braintree, Needham, Roslindale, Beverly, Revere, Hamilton, and Quincy. In Needham, customers pick up their produce boxes once a week (Thursdays between 1:00-4:30) in the Newman School parking lot. The boxes are so popular that Needham customers are assigned time slots for pickup based on the alphabetical order of the first letter of their last name. 
While ordering, customers can donate the $25 produce boxes to the Needham Community Council, the Chelsea Collaborative or the Charles River Health Center in Brighton. Katsiroubas Brothers delivers the donated produce boxes to these locations. About 400 produce boxes have been donated so far to the Needham Community Council. To order or donate a Katsiroubas Cares produce box on-line:
Next week's speakers: 1.) members of the Needham High School Salsa Club will address what it's like to attend a virtual high school during the pandemic, and
2.) Jeff Dineen will tell us about his "Cans for Calcium" program that collects deposit cans and bottles and donates the proceeds to purchase milk for the Needham Food Pantry.