By Ed Karvoski Jr.
Hudson – During the coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home orders, a food relief drive-through is offered Mondays and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church (FUMC) of Hudson, 34 Felton St. The food relief helps Hudson families whose children receive the schools’ free or reduced-cost breakfast and lunch, senior residents and anyone unable to work. Home deliveries are available the same days and hours.
A school closure announcement shared on Facebook raised residents’ concern for families who rely on the breakfast/lunch program. The Rev. Rosanne Roberts, FUMC pastor, approved church members’ idea to organize a food relief drive-through. Leading the effort is Stacey Hartford, FUMC Sunday school and youth director.
“It’s been wonderful that we’re able to help out anyone who’s in need,” Hartford said. “We expanded this to the elderly because they’re at higher risk. We also opened it up to anyone who’s out of work and has no money coming in.”
A conference call to Hartford from Superintendent Dr. Marco Rodrigues along with his team resulted in a coordinated partnership between Hudson Public Schools and FUMC for food distribution each weekday.
The district, in conjunction with its food service provider Chartwells, arranged for students who receive free or reduced-cost breakfast and lunch to get “grab-and-go meals,” available for pick-up Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 to 9 a.m. at Quinn Middle School, 201 Manning St. On the same three mornings, pick-ups are scheduled 7:10 to 7:30 a.m. at Robinsons Hardware, 31 Washington St.; 7:50 to 8:10 a.m. at Cherry Street Field, 61 Cherry St.; and 8:30 to 8:50 a.m. at FUMC.
Chartwells also supplied FUMC’s two-day drive-through with items such as breakfast bars, cereals, snacks and vegetables. A closed business donated 400 eggs and a 10-pound deli turkey.
On behalf of Hudson Rotary Club, members Justin Provencher and Trevor Rank went shopping and then delivered to FUMC a truckload of food and supplies totaling nearly $1,000.
Excited about the Rotarians’ donation, Hartford shared, “They even brought us Clorox Disinfecting Wipes! I kept praying that we’d get more wipes to sanitize all our stock.”
Arriving by fire truck, shift-two firefighters of Hudson Fire Station Headquarters presented a monetary donation for FUMC’s drive-through.
Community support continued with a call to Hartford from Hudson Senior Center Director Janice Long, establishing communication between FUMC volunteers and seniors needing meals delivered. More recently, the drive-through received a monetary donation from the Friends of Hudson Seniors Benevolent Fund.
Jen Smith oversees the bagging of food and supplies inside FUMC. Assisting with the drive-through outdoors is Lisa Comeau along with several Marine Corps JROTC cadets of Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School including her sons Cory and John, a senior and sophomore respectively.
“They’re our runners,” Hartford said of the cadets’ responsibilities. “They have the strength and energy to do the lifting and carrying. All our volunteers are always ready to pitch in.”
The public can donate items anytime in bins at FUMC’s back handicap entrance. Needed donations are boxed and canned goods, breakfast bars, cereals, snacks, juice and water, as well as paper products, cleaning supplies, hygiene items and pet food.
Some items were given to Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kids, which provides food on weekends for children in five towns including Hudson. Any surplus items will be donated to Hudson Community Food Pantry.
“I encourage people to keep their donations coming because the need keeps growing,” Hartford noted. “It’s such a blessing for us to be able to give it all away.”