(SUN/Julia Malakie)

DRACUT -- The Merrimack Valley Food Bank's warehouse is packed with tuna cans, bread loaves, fruits, vegetables, pasta boxes and more.

The 20,000-square-foot facility on Broadway Street in Lowell has dry storage on three levels, a refrigerated building with a vertical-racking storage system, and two walk-in frozen-food storage rooms.

The food bank provides for many food pantries, shelters and meal programs across the Merrimack Valley. Those pantries and shelters then distribute this abundance of food to about 70,000 people each month.

Without annual fundraisers and donors, such continued success would not be possible.

One of MVFB's most popular fundraisers is coming up on Thursday, May 4 -- the nonprofit agency's 12th annual Grape Expectations wine-tasting extravaganza will take place at Lenzi's in Dracut. All proceeds will benefit those who need help accessing nutritious food.

"It's about everyone coming together to support a great cause," said Danielle McFadden, president and CEO of the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce and one of the event's co-chairs.

"We're so blessed of people always thinking of us," added Debbie Callery, MVFB's assistant executive director and community-relations coordinator.

Each year, Grape Expectations increases in size; last year, more than 400 guests attended, raising $64,000 for MVFB.


"We hope to do at least the same this year," Callery said. "We're always hoping for more."

The wine-tasting extravaganza will feature a wide selection of wine, beer and spirits, as wel as hors d'oeuvres, more than 100 silent-auction items, a Trinity Triple Play raffle, a "Fling the Ring" wine-bottle ring toss, music from the Funrazrs, and a photo booth.

Those in attendance will be able to drink and eat all night long, organizers said.

"We'll have something for everyone," Callery said. "Lenzi's does an amazing job."

People are starting to drop off auction items. They include wine packages and designer purses; a free week at a Belize condo; weekend trips to York and Biddeford, Maine; and sports memorabilia.

The silent auction is now housed in Lenzi's Merrimack Room, creating more space for guests and wine vendors in the ballroom, with more seating and more to taste.

In addition to Grape Expectations, MVFB holds an annual golf tournament and has now started an annual road race.

MVFB partners with 150 member agencies that include pantries, meal programs, shelters, group homes, and schools in 48 cities and towns in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Grape Expectations starts at 6 p.m. Lenzi's is at 810 Merrimack Ave., Route 110 in Dracut.

Tickets are $60 each, and can be purchased at www.mvfb.org, or by contacting Callery at dcallery@mvfb.org or 978-454-7272.

There are also sponsorships available, from $100 to $2,500.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.



Location: 735 Broadway St.

Contact: 978-454-7272, www.mvfb.org

How long in existence: 25 years

Other upcoming events

  • Open House, Friday, April 28, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Open House, Wednesday, May 24, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
  • I Heart MVFB, Wednesday, June 21, 5 to 7 p.m., fundraiser with Enterprise Bank, Lawrence
  • Third annual MVFB & Greater Lowell Chamber Cookout, Thursday, June 22, noon to 1:30 p.m.
  • Peanut Butter Grand Slam, Tuesday, July 18, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
  • 24th annual Golf Tournament & Awards Dinner, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Pictured are some of the items the food bank supplies to communities and families throughout the Merrimack Valley.