North Attleborough food pantries see increase in both use and support

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Volunteers at the Hockomock YMCA load up bags of food. Courtesy photo

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

As more and more people are furloughed or laid off, the need for help keeping food on the table increases—a need that is being met by a number of services in North Attleborough.

Different groups such as Lenore’s Pantry, The Community Comets Food Pantry, the YMCA, and Transfiguration Parish have all seen an increase in the number of people utilizing their services, and support from the community has grown as well.

Community Comets Food Pantry

Sarah Stone, who manages the pantry, said bags of food are being delivered on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to the home of students on the program. Deliveries are handled by school teachers and staff who have volunteered to assist the program. Bags of food are packed at the Alternative Market, and donations can be made there as well, Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Microwavable items, macaroni and cheese, Spaghettio’s, canned veggies, and cereal are among the items most needed, said Stone. She added that the bags are packed for families with children, and may not be the best choice for seniors, but emergency bags are available for those who call looking for help. Since the pantry was moved to the Alternative Market, she said that more people have signed up to volunteer. Surfaces are sanitized regularly, and volunteers wear gloves.

We’re better than we were a couple weeks ago,” said Stone. “We’re packing so many bags every week the food flies off the shelves. Last week we packed 84 bags.”

The Community Comets Food Pantry runs a Facebook page with a link to an Amazon wish list that people can order food from. For more information, email fuelfortheweekendprogram@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/communitycometsfoodpantry.

Lenore’s Pantry

Human Service Coordinator Joan Badger said that Lenore’s Pantry has also seen an increase in use as people wait to receive unemployment or food stamps. She’s also directed them to other resources, such as the YMCA or Hebron Food Pantry. Lenore’s does a monthly pickup, and the food is brought out to the recipient’s vehicles. Volunteers then step back to meet social distancing, allowing the recipients to place the food in their vehicle. Badger said many people have made monetary donations as well as gift cards.

We’re so thankful,” she said. “We’ll be able to use that to purchase the items we need.”

One issue has been the limits placed on purchases. Badger said that normally, they can buy cases of what they need, but with so many at the stores, only 10 or 12 of an item can be bought at a time. She said store managers have been very helpful in getting what is needed for the families signed up for Lenore’s.

In order to become a pantry participant, call 508-699-0104. Once this has been verified, an online or mailed survey needs to be filled out to choose specific food items, and it’s recommended that a follow-up call or e-mail be done to verify it was received. Donations can be left in a gray bin outside Town Hall.

Transfiguration Parish

Located at St. Mary’s of the Transfiguration Parish, this food pantry is in good shape, thanks to donations from parishioners, according to Anne, a representative. Information is taken over the phone, a change from the home visits, which have been suspended for the time being. At this time, it’s estimated that 55 people have signed up for the pantry.

The parish has been very generous giving us all kinds of stuff,” she said. “Stop & Shop has been very good to us. We probably couldn’t operate without them.”

Along with a bag of food, frozen meat and beauty items are also given. The pantry is limited to North Attleborough residents, and emergency food bags can be prepared. The pantry has lessened the number of volunteers in order to meet social distancing. To register for the pantry, call 508-212-4755 and leave a message with name and number, and someone will respond. Pickups are done on the third Thursday of the month and food is brought out to the vehicle.

We have not yet seen a rise, but we expect that may happen when this shakes up,” said Anne. “We’re bracing ourselves. We’ll do whatever we can.”

Hockomock YMCA

The Hockomock Area YMCA is offering family-sized bags of food will be available for drive-up distribution on Wednesdays from 1-2 p.m. and 5-6 p.m. at the YMCAs located in Foxboro, Franklin and North Attleborough. No registration is required.

The locations are 67 Mechanic St., Foxboro, 45 Forge Hill Road, Franklin, and 300 Elmwood St., North Attleborough

In partnership and collaboration with school nutrition and many other community partners, the Hockomock Y is also providing grab and go meals Monday through Friday in North Attleborough at the Community School and in Milford at the Memorial Elementary School.

For anyone interested in helping out, the Y has located collection bins for non-perishable food donations at each of the YMCAs, which are available seven days a week, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Suggested donations include: oatmeal cups/packets, macaroni and cheese boxes/cups, granola bars (nut free whole grain preferred), applesauce or mandarin orange cups (no added sugar), whole grain crackers, tuna pouches in water (low sodium), Progresso chicken soup (low sodium), rice boxes/cups, Barilla Ready Pasta and pasta boxes.

If interested in providing monetary donations, contact Katie Moore at katiem@hockymca.org or 508-643-5265. Questions about the food drive and distribution sites may be directed to Marykate Bergen at marykateb@hockymca.org. For more information, visit hockymca.org.