Except for the Grace of God,
By Sandy Donovan, Founder/Director
More and more people are feeling cornered as the economy does not
improve and they can not make ends meet financially. I am seeing
families I haven’t seen in years.
The food pantry for many families is the only help they can receive
because we do not have any guidelines for getting food from us. They
may come every week if they need to. Most do as making ends meet
is almost impossible. We find ourselves in a tight corner these
days, too, which makes it impossible at this time to help with things
like heating bills, etc. I am hopeful in the future that will change.
The poverty guidelines have not changed since 2009, so people trying to
qualify for any assistance do not qualify. The program I hear
about the most is the Food Stamp program. One family was a $1.52
over and another $1.54 over. Many families are working but not
make enough to make ends meet and try to pay bills at the same
time. The first thing to go is food.
According to the latest statistics as of September 15 of this year
there are 41.8 million people receiving food stamps. There has been an
increase of 11.4 million in the last two years. If the poverty
guidelines had been upgraded as they usually are the number would far
exceed this number. For a family of 4 the guideline is $22,050 to
We are a very blessed pantry between the monetary and food donations we
receive many people are able to receive a large amount of food. They
are able to choose their own food. We are even able to help those
on special diets.
Many children, along with adults, seem to be having more and more
issues with food and require the special food to help keep them healthy
so we try to the best our ability to fill those needs. A loaf of
gluten free bread ranges from five to almost seven dollars a
loaf. Sun butter made from sun flowers seeds for those allergic
to peanut butter is almost seven dollars a jar. The list goes on
and on for these special foods needed for families that can not afford
them. If they stray from their diets all kinds of unpleasant immune
issues occur. The number of people having high blood pressure, heart
problems and being diabetic has been on the rise, too.
We spend between $500 to almost a $1, ooo a week shopping for fresh
produce and other items needed by families. I travel many places for
this food between supermarkets and farms. This is a 24/7 commitment. I
will open up on days we are closed if someone is in desperate need of
food. This is my mission and joy in my life. Many people think I
get a salary for this; I do not and never have. This is a strictly
volunteer position for me. We are all one family in God and all
paths lead to Him.
Donelan’s is one of the super markets I go to in Lincoln and
Littleton. They go beyond the mile to help and support us in
anyway they can. It makes it worth the trip to go to both of them
weekly. Now that I am going to Littleton on Wednesday I am able
to give the Wednesday families the same things that I give to the other
families for the rest of the week. They bend over backwards to
help us. They are unbelievable with their support of the pantry.
Stop and Shop gave us a check over #3,000 for 2009 and will be giving
us a check again this year for their annual fund raiser.
Jones Farm, Font’s Farm and Parlee’s Farm in Chelmsford have given us
fresh produce for years.
Other supermarkets would like to help us, too, but can’t because of
constraints by their corporations.
We work with St. Vincent DePaul Society at Our Lady of Hope in Ipswich
and St. Mary’s in Chelmsford. This free up their money for other
things they can help people with. These agencies see the rise in
needs, especially in Ipswich.
Hunger has no boundary lines and I don’t refuse anyone, no matter
where they are from. We had a new family this week about 4
communities away. They live a few doors from their pantry and
knew the children would feel embarrassed and ashamed if they went
there. I told her no problem. People, for whatever reason, many times
forget they could be in that line; as many live from paycheck to
paycheck and tend to be judgmental of other people’s situations.
I am most appreciative of your support from all aspects of the
community and beyond. Without your help we could never do what we
do. Also, I would like to thank Paul Cohen, Town Manager for all his
help for the pantry. When people complain to me about our size I tell
them the town pays for our space and utilities. When God is ready for
us to move for a bigger space the door will open. They tell me,”You are
Monetary donations may be mailed to Chelmsford Community Exchange,
Inc., PO Box 394, Chelmsford, MA.
For more information go to our website.
Website: www.homepage.mac.com/poptech/Pantry/Pantry.html. Add it to
your favorites and it just says pantry.
You are making a big difference in many lives by your support for these
17 ½ years. God Bless all of you for caring about
others! We couldn’t do it without you!
We will be fund raising at St. John Evangelist Church, N. Chelmsford on
Saturday October 30 and Sunday, 31st. We will be at St. Mary’s
Church, Saturday, December 4th and Sunday, December 5th.