By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough – The Marlborough Community Cupboard, more commonly known as the Food Pantry, continues to assist low-income individuals and families in their struggle to afford food. In 2015, more than 420,000 pounds of food was distributed to nearly 1,200 Marlborough families enrolled in the program, according to Paul Mina, president and CEO of the United Way of Tri-County (UWTC).
“The demand for food assistance is directly due to the increasing number of ‘underemployed’ individuals and families now using the pantry,” said Mina. “We’ve always served the chronically in need but now there is an entirely different group of people who work every day but don’t make enough money to make ends meet.”
The UWTC brought Marlborough Community Services, the city’s sponsoring agency, under its umbrella through a merger effective July 1, 2011, where it has functioned successfully and expanded its services.
The need for food has nearly doubled since 2011. To accommodate the growing need, the hours open to the public have been expanded and additional services have been added, stated Barbara La Grenade, office manager and volunteer center director.
“We also distribute a growing amount of vegetables and bread items in addition to the groceries and canned goods,” she said.
Other services they offer are pet food when available, clothing, food delivery to homebound seniors through the Senior Mobile Market program, open marketplace with fresh produce and other local assistance programs and services.
All recipients are grateful for the assistance and in many cases it helps them achieve self sufficiency.
“We have witnessed a few that have become successful and are able to manage their households,” said La Grenade. “What we also see are those seasonal workers who are able to be self-sufficient during their peak season. The best reward is when you hear that excitement in their voices.”
The Marlborough Food Pantry, as it functions today, was organized in 1991, under the direction of former Mayor Michael Hogan, responding to changes in the dynamics and demographics of the city at that time. He received a grant to create a new nonprofit agency “to address the increasing and unmet needs on an existing all volunteer-run food pantry that was floundering and to initiate a program to focus on the emerging growing needs of a multicultural, multi-ethnic and limited English-speaking community.”
Marilyn Perry of Marlborough was hired as executive director of the Food Pantry and worked with a needs assessment committee, comprised of city officials, department heads, corporate leaders and other educators to help design the agency. Perry eventually left the position to become an aide to Congressman Martin Meehan.
Food comes from private donations and the Greater Boston Food Bank. Hours open to the public at the local Food Pantry, located in the Walker Building, 255 Main St., Suite 113, are Monday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m.