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Legislators step up to help keep pantry open

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD Open Pantry Community Services Executive Director Kevin Noonan said that three area legislators have filed bills to help the organization obtain the state funding it needs to continue its programs in the city.

State Reps. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera, Benjamin Swan and Angelo Puppolo have all filed budget amendments. Noonan is asking people in the Springfield area to contact their state representatives to support budget amendments 304, 936 and 1043 that would earmark funds for line item 4406-3000.

Noonan said he is hoping there will be positive news by April 28. The organization wasn't awarded $400,843 from the state despite language in the appropriations legislation that would have seemed to set aside the funding for the Open Pantry.

Noonan thought he would have to decrease services by April 21, but was able to delay the cuts. If the Open Pantry doesn't receive the additional funding, cuts will be made.

The agency is preparing for a major annual fundraiser, PantryWalk 2008, scheduled for May 4 at Riverfront Park in downtown Springfield in front of the old Trolley Station.

Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. and the walk begins at 1 p.m.

The fundraiser is in conjunction with National Walk for Hunger Day.

Walkers can choose between two routes (1.5 miles and three miles), both of which run parallel to the scenic Connecticut River. There are no entrance fees and all walkers will receive a free T-shirt as well as complimentary refreshments.

"We can't continue to provide these services without your help. Finances are at an all time low for Open Pantry and we truly need the support of the public at this critical time," Noonan said.

Sponsors are also needed to make this fundraiser a success.

If you'd like to walk, sponsor or need more information, contact Sara Haimowitz at 737-5355, e-mail, or visit