Food Pantry looks to its ‘friends’ to help meet increased need

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PANTRY BOARD OF DIRECTORS

DRACUT — In six months, the Dracut Food Pantry has gone from six families at the first opening in the fall to more than 60 families last month. With rising fuel and grocery bills, the demand in the months ahead is expected to increase substantially.

Client families — including single mothers, the elderly who can’t buy food because of high prescription costs, parents working two jobs but still struggling, large families who can’t keep up with the rising cost of groceries, disabled veterans and those suffering through health crises — have all been greeted warmly at the pantry and sent home with a cart full of nonperishable food items.

The incredible support of the people of Dracut, the Dracut Fire Department, the business community, the schools, churches, town offices, the Dracut Post Office, various organizations and our enthusiastic volunteers have made this all possible.

The board of directors is overwhelmed at the willingness of so many people who want to help, from the children who ask their birthday guests to bring items for the food pantry in lieu of gifts, to the schools that run competitions for the highest number of food items collected, to town businesses that are finding creative ways to collect food from their customers. The examples are endless and inspiring.

However, each month there are a number of items that are in demand by our client families, yet are not readily donated through food drives. Just a few examples are 100 percent juice, juice boxes, jars of pasta sauce, paper products and personal care products.

To fill that gap, the board of directors has created “Friends of the Dracut Food Pantry.” Members of the Friends receive an e-mail update each month listing the most needed items for that month. Any amount of those items — even just one — can then be dropped off at any time at the Dracut Central Fire Station on Pleasant Street. The Fire Department periodically delivers those items to the pantry.

The Friends program has helped the pantry tremendously by filling shelves that otherwise would have been empty. In the coming months, as more and more people struggle to put food on their tables, their support will be even more crucial.

To sign up as a “Friend,” e-mail friendsdfp@comcast.net. We welcome anyone in our community to join us in this important effort to help our neighbors in need.

Any Dracut residents struggling to put food on their tables are encouraged to visit the Dracut Food Pantry on May 31 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The atmosphere is friendly and the volunteers are happy to serve. Client families shop for the food items that they need, so please allow for a waiting period while others are being helped. New families are asked to provide proof of residence (a utility bill), identification (a license) and Social Security numbers for all members of the family.

The pantry is located in the Beaver Brook Mills complex on Lakeview Avenue, on the lower level behind Owen & Ollie’s restaurant. For more information, call 978-957-8600 and leave a message, or e-mail friendsdfp@comcast.net.