Except for the Grace of God, but I!
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 almost $40,000.
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 right, Sandy”.
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 past
 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.