In Massachusetts, 11.4% of all households, or 700,000 people, struggle with food insecurity. There are 200,000 children in Massachusetts who have a parent who makes less than $11 per hour. Of the children who live in Massachusetts, 16.5% live in food insecure households. Food insecurity is up 40% from before the recession began and almost an 80% increase from the start of the last decade. (Statistics derived from Project Bread’s 2014 Report of Hunger in Massachusetts)
One in nine eastern Massachusetts residents is at risk of hunger and that number is growing. The Greater Boston Food Bank has witnessed a 21% increase in requests for food assistance since 2008. A recent study shows that 47% of those at risk for hunger in eastern Massachusetts earn too much to be eligible for government provided emergency food assistance. This is where food pantries and community meal programs come in to bridge the gap. 8% of the eastern Massachusetts population uses a food pantry, soup kitchen or shelter. One in three are children under eighteen and one in five are sixty years or older. (Statistics derived from GBFB Our Mission-Hunger)
On average, the Bourne Friends Food Pantry distributes food to 300+ households per month with the average family being comprised of four people. Friends Food Pantry families include 423 adults, 189 children and 107 seniors. We distribute at least four bags to each family including nonperishable canned goods, cereal, pastas, soup, shelf stable milk, meat, dairy and produce. On any given day that we are open to clients, we serve 30-50 families. On our busiest days, in November and December, we serve 60 plus families.
The Pantry has a pool of over forty dedicated, hardworking volunteers who donate an average of 350 hours per month, which contributes $3,500 in saved labor costs at minimum wage. Volunteers who work at the Pantry are provided onsite training in the areas of restocking, delivery bag preparation and client escorting. The Pantry currently maintains a wait list for volunteers interested in helping at the Pantry. Seasonal help for Thanksgiving and Christmas is always welcome.
The Friends Food Pantry also serves as the intermediary for the Public School Backpack Program. The Pantry obtains the food from the Greater Boston Food Bank for the two elementary schools; Bournedale and Peebles. In February, this program provided food to seventeen families including twenty one adults, forty four children and three seniors.
Currently, the Pantry is providing food for Easter dinner for our clients. This is in addition to the food received at the client’s monthly visit. Clients are being given a ham and pineapple or turkey and all the fixin’s as well as juice and canned sweet potatoes. Small toys are also being provided to families with children twelve and under for the Easter basket.
If folks are interested in donating to the Pantry, the items of greatest need at present are soups, juices, jellies, nonperishable meats such as corned beef hash, beef stew, spam and chunk white tuna as well as toilet paper and large size diapers; size three and larger. Cake mixes and frosting for children’s birthdays is always gratefully received. Health and beauty aids are always welcome particularly because those are items that cannot be purchased with SNAP benefits. If a financial donation is preferred, please make check payable to the Friend of Bourne COA with “Pantry” in the memo line. Mail to the Friends Office at P.O. Box 144, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532.