Pantry Home

December 8, 2007


Food pantry is spreading its wings

We are now over 14 years old and like all teenagers we keep spreading our wings as we find more and more pockets of poverty in the suburbs, and rural areas. They are evident for the most part in the inner city.
I am working with St. Vincent DePaul Societies at St. Mary's, Chelmsford; St. Joseph's, Lincoln and Our Lady of Hope in Ipswich. We provide the food and gift certificates for these churches to help them provide money for other needs a family may have that are hurting financially..
This does not count the people who come to our doors, St. Patrick's Adult Education and Day School in Lowell. We are a very busy little pantry. Last Thursday alone we gave food for 50 families on Thursday afternoon not counting Wednesday or Friday night who came to our door. Our numbers are climbing all the time, especially this time of the year.
It has been many months since I wrote my last article for the newspaper and at that time I mentioned a church I was in the process of working with their Saint Vincent DePaul Society to help with food for their families in the North Shore area. That did work out last spring and now we have seven to ten families under our wings that we help with food on a regular basis. In fact, I have a farm worker family I meet thru Our Lady of Hope in Ipswich that I contact directly for any help they may need. I became the godmother to their baby last month and what a joy that was for me. This family works very hard and their wants are very simple. I know as time goes on more and more families will be looking for this help in that area, too.
We still have our 18 families in Lincoln, too that we help thru St. Joseph's Church in Lincoln. We supply all the food for these families. That has been in place for a year now and this frees up their money to take care of other needs.
Many aspects of the community have supported us throughout the year without it we would find harder to take care of the needs of others who are facing financial difficulties-individuals, corporations, places of worship and schools to mention a few.
I will mention a few of the business that have supported us thru their goods as follows: Ken's in Marlborough gives us all our salad dressing, barbeque sauce and mayonnaise. Families would not have these extras which help to make food a little tastier without these donations from Ken's Foods.
Kwik Copy, Littleton Road, Westford has been doing our printing free for years and without their help we would not be able to get the word out as much or the forms we have to use for the pantry for information and stats.
Panera Bread in Drum Hill gives us their bread weekly which is a treat for our families. Whole foods in Bedford donates to us once a week various bread and dessert products.
Jones Farm, Parlee's Strawberry Farm and Fontes are the local farms that give us produce all during their growing season. These donations help us to give fresh produce to our families.
We get food at sixteen cents a pound a Merrimack Valley Food Bank and also get food from a Massachusetts Food Program in which we get free food each month from them. They also deliver free fresh food items to us once a week from an emergency feeding program. Many times they have fresh produce, like lettuce, which is free. Without the food bank there is no way we could take care of our local families weekly and without your support we couldn't buy all that we need for these families from them either.
We have families that are diabetic, have high blood pressure, allergic to certain foods and gluten , lactose intolerant, etc. I am a familiar site in the local supermarkets shopping for the items that are on sale that we need.
As we do not pre-bag we are able to the best of our ability to help people to eat healthy on an individual basis.
It is not easy to have to admit, in our society, that a family or person is facing financial difficulties and can't buy the foods they need to keep healthy. Food is the first thing to go in a household especially as the weather gets colder. The high price of gas along with other expenses cuts the budget to the breaking point and many times does. Many of my families work. In fact, some work three jobs in a family.
Until we have a realistic poverty threshold many of these families will live on the edge and be lucky they don't fall over that edge in desperation in trying to make ends meet financially. The poverty threshold this year for a family of four is $20,650 a year. This is ludicrous as this amount should be double that amount for the poverty threshold. It seems our politicians never want to talk or do anything about it. It is not a Republican or Democratic issue but strictly a political one. I often wonder how they would feel if all of a sudden they lost all their assets, income and had to stand in a line for food at a pantry, apply for food stamps but find out their car is out of the category to make them eligible or have to apply for Mass Health. Depending on the situation could be denied. Unless they walk the walk there isn't anyway they can understand this problem along with other issues facing our country now.
This year the theme for fund raising will be "Eyes are a gift from God" Do you look with His Love or your Judgment at others. I find that it is hard not to be judgmental at times for all of us. People can't understand why someone is dressed well or driving a late model car (Could be that person lost their job and this is their only vehicle) or judge someone for the piercing on their face or tattoos but fail to realize this a good person and for whatever reason made some decisions maybe in the future will look at it differently. "Never judge the book by its cover"!
But yet as a society we are so quick to judge others without knowing what is going on in their lives. But thankfully for our food pantry we have a supportive community through monetary, food and volunteering that has tendency to look at others with HIS Love.
I will be fund raising at all the Masses at the following Catholic Churches: St. John Evangelist, North Chelmsford on Nov. 10 and 11; St. Mary Magdalene on the Dracut/Tyngsboro line on Nov. 3 and 4; St. Mary's Chelmsford on Nov. 17 and 18.
Remember hunger has no boundaries and we are one family in God. As I have said many times it is God's Pantry not mine and He does work thru people, no matter what road we follow that leads to Him.
Donations made be made to Chelmsford Community Exchange, PO Box 394, Chelmsford, MA 01824 . You may call me at 978 250-3818 or e-mail me at vze2gt3p@verizon.net, if you need help with food or want to donate.
Check out our web site at:
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Sandy Donovan is the director of the Chelmsford Community Exchange Food Pantry.

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