By Nance Ebert, Contributing Writer
Southborough – The Southborough Food Pantry is committed to serving those in need with food, personal care items, household supplies and even fuel to ensure heat throughout the cold, New England winters.
Run by the five churches in town, the pantry has many volunteers that work tirelessly behind the scenes keep the pantry stocked.
“We each have a small group of volunteers that we work closely with,” explained Karen White, coordinator for St. Mark’s Church. “This way, our clients and their families get to really know us and feel comfortable. There is a trusting bond that is formed. We are also better able to service them because we know what their needs are. For example, if they are diabetic, then we look specifically for items that would be beneficial to them. If they have a small baby, then they would need diapers, bottles, etc.”
Any parishioner is eligible for help, as is any town resident. They do get referrals but everything is done in a very confidential and sensitive manner. They also do a fuel assistance program for clients that have been established.
“We started in 1989 using a closet across from the minister’s office. We had, maybe five or six families that used our services. Now there are about 60 families that visit with us,” said Barbara Jandrue, coordinator at St. Matthew’s Church and director of the Southborough Food Pantry.
To keep the pantry stocked, they rely heavily on the schools, churches and companies like Cumberland Farms and BJs who donate food and other items. The volunteers also make trips to their partner, the Worcester County Food Bank.
“Each year in November, the Boy Scouts hold their food drive. This is right before Thanksgiving and our shelves are literally half empty. We get so much inventory just from this one event,” White said.
There are always people that want to volunteer. One freshman at Algonquin High School, Dylan Logan, has been an ambassador since last year running Project 351, a food drive started by Governor Deval Patrick.
“His efforts were so successful last month that he collected 650 pounds of items along with an ambassador from Northborough. They did a great job and we are grateful,” said Jandrue.
In May, there will be a Post Office Drive. That’s the time of year when the food pantry really needs a boost. The pantry is always looking for non-perishables such as soups, crackers, beans, coffee, tea, condiments, canned fruits and vegetables, cleaning supplies and peanut butter.
During the summer months, the Southborough Food Pantry has been fortunate to have several residents donate fresh vegetables from their gardens. And, at Thanksgiving, each family is given a complete meal as well as a grocery gift card to purchase their own turkey.
Project Just Because, out of Hopkinton, supplies the Southborough Food Pantry with backpacks, which they have been doing for over 10 years. Smiling Kids, Inc., provides the pantry with birthday gift cards.
“Some people are thrown into situations where they lost everything,” Jandrue noted. “Some have a mental or physical disability. We fill the cracks and try to get the help to those that need it. We really do care.”
For more information, call 508-485-4847 or visit www.foodpantry.com or their Facebook page “Southborough Food Pantry.”