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State of economy leads to establishment of food pantry

Date: 10/5/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW The need is there. That's why the Longmeadow Adult Center is officially opening its Food Pantry on Oct. 6.

A release from the Adult Center noted that "with the downturn in the economy and rise in unemployment, the need for a food distribution program in Longmeadow has become apparent."

"This is not just for seniors, even though it's being housed at the senior center," Ellen Gold, volunteer coordinator at the Adult Center, told Reminder Publications. "It's for everyone in town."

Gold said the center noticed that more and more people were in need last year through the town's fuel assistance program - people of all ages, not just seniors.

"The seed was planted last winter," Gold explained, "but we've been actively organizing it [the pantry] for the past two months."

The Adult Center is a member of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and it will have access to state and federal funds for food as well. The pantry will also get donations from Rachel's Table, the organization that distributes extra food from supermarkets and restaurants to food pantries.

"We have a very good senior center. It has a lot of activities and volunteers," Select Board member Paul Santaniello said. "It's both good and bad, opening a food pantry there. You really don't want to see something like that in our community, but the fact that it's needed and it's available is good.

"It's a sad reminder of what's going on right now," he added.

Gold said that right now, the pantry is focusing on collecting non-perishable items for distribution as well as paper products and personal care items. The pantry will be receiving a large freezer in the future to hold cold items.

"We will see how this winter shapes up when it comes to what we need," Gold stated. "I just hope we have a good stock for the beginning."

The pantry opens on Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. and will be open every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon and from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Delivery will also be available for those who cannot physically come to the Adult Center.

Donations can be dropped off anytime the center is open, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Anonymous donations can be left in the basket near the front door; other donations should be brought to the Adult Center's office.

"I hope people will come if they're in need," Gold said.

The Longmeadow Adult Center is located at 231 Maple Rd. For more information, call the center at 565-4150.