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New Year signals trouble for food pantries

Date: 1/14/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WEST SPRINGFIELD The conclusion of the holiday giving season marks a tumultuous time for food pantries. However, many charitable organizations have stepped up to bridge the divide between December and the spring.

Last month, Mittineague Congregational Church aided the Parish Cupboard, 1023 Main St., with a monetary donation, outerwear for those in need and other clothing for soup kitchen volunteers.

"We're very joyful that they were able to give at that [high] level," Candy Boucher, executive director of the Parish Cupboard, said. "If everybody does a little something that's how we get the job done. We intend to inform the community when we need help with food. Our community is very, very attentive."

She explained that the economic downturn has led to an increase in those seeking service at the food pantry.

"If the end of the year is any sign [of the months to come], that means that more people are needing us and the more people that come in the faster the pantry is depleted," Boucher said. "I anticipate that we will be in need all throughout these [first] six months [of 2009]."

Roberta Page, vice chair of the Mittineague Congregational Church Council, explained that each member of the church is responsible for community outreach and charitable giving throughout the year. She noted that the church's Pilgrim Fellowship Youth Group raised $158.75 from a bake sale and used the funds to buy gifts for Toys for Tots.

"[Our parishioners] knew a lot of people were experiencing difficulty this year especially," Page said. "This is what a church does, not only to care for their internal membership and facility but also to others in the community."

Boucher noted that the Parish Cupboard will be increasing its community outreach throughout the year by delivering food to neighborhoods on 10 different dates. She added that times, dates and locations will be released in the near future.

Boucher said she will also be informing the community of ongoing fundraising campaigns throughout the year that will be necessary to keep up with the growing demand.

"[We're going to] heat up the winter [with fundraising efforts] because it is a long, long winter for us if we're looking at people not paying attention [to the needs of those in the community]," she said.

For more information about services at the Parish Cupboard or to make a donation, call 734-7969.