North Attleborough food pantries see a rise in use

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Racks of food at the Fuel for The Weekend program prepare to be delivered. All of the food pantries in North Attleborough have reported an increase in need, but a drop in donations. File photo
Coin show Sunday November 20th at 9:00 AM 52 Bulfinch street

By Max Bowen-max.bowen@northstarreporter.com

 

North’s different food pantries have seen a significant increase since March 2020 and that number hasn’t gone down, even as the community moves to a post-pandemic lifestyle.

 

Joan Badger, the town’s Human Service Coordinator, said that six months ago Lenore’s Pantry was serving 70 families a month, and today, it’s up to 100. She said this means hundreds of people in need of these services, but donations have gone in the opposite direction due to the recent increase in prices.

 

“That’s the biggest impact—we’re just not getting the donations,” said Badger.

 

Lenore’s recently celebrated its 44th anniversary, and provides food to families on Monday and Friday mornings and Thursday afternoons, as well as popup distributions at two of the senior housing developments. Badger said two new residents were signed up at the recent popup. Some of the recent signups for the pantry have talked to volunteers about how they’ve never had to do this before.

 

The pantry not only receives support from North Attleborough residents who volunteer and make possible the multi-step process of three weekly food distributions, but also from schools, churches, and area businesses. Badger said the biggest need is foods high in protein, such as solid white tuna fish, chicken, Spam, chili, and baked and red beans. Pasta and sauces are other items which the pantry has been running short of.

 

“North Attleborough has always been a generous community,” she said. “We’re very thankful, but this need is a continual need.”

 

Associate Vice President of Social Action Services Caitlyn Gibbs at the Hockomock YMCA—which has been running a food distribution program since early 2020—said there is an ongoing partnership with Lenore’s Pantry through the Food Access Collaborative.

 

“The YMCA continues to be committed to helping Lenore’s working with the Food Collaborative to continue to streamline the services,” she said.

 

The Food Access Collaborative is comprised of the YMCA, Lenore’s, and the Food for the Weekend program. The latter was started in 2019 to provide weekend bags of food for Community School students. It was expanded in the months that followed and then to the entire town when the pandemic began. FFTW Founder Sarah Stone said seven children were added to the program last week and she expects this need to increase over the fall and winter.

 

“We’re adding all the time, every week,” said Stone. “We’ve definitely seen an increase, for sure. When families are doing better and they can come off (the program) they do. So, it’s fluid, it’s been very fluid.”

 

FFTW purchases its food as opposed to relying on donations, but this has been a problem as well with increased prices. Fundraisers, some for all three programs, and grants have been able to meet the need.

 

“We try these fundraisers and we hope for the best,” said Stone. “It’s not easy. It’s nice that we work in a collaborative. The three programs try to support each other as best we can.”

 

Donations for Lenore’s Pantry can be brought to the Board of Health at Town Hall (lower level) during regular business hours. All questions can be directed to 508-699-0104.