The Community Human Services committee is collecting for the Food Pantry at First Parish Newbury during the month of February. We will have a table at the back of the church.

This foodbank is an amazing operation run entirely by volunteers inside the sanctuary of the church each Friday afternoon. It is truly a place of last resort for many of its growing client list which is now reaching into the hundreds and seeing more families with young children and disabled people. They provide shelf-stable items like canned goods and cereals as well as produce, protein and dairy items which have required extensive food safety training and the acquisition of refrigerators, coolers and even small shopping carts. Each client is accompanied by a food pantry volunteer to ensure they take sufficient amounts of different food groups and snacks to round out the menu for all the family members. They need canned goods, breakfast cereals, boxes of single items for lunches such as protein bars and fruit cups. Personal care items for bathing and shaving are needed as well as feminine sanitary products and baby care products. If you use it in your home, they probably could use it, too. You can donate supermarket gift cards, checks or cash as well.

The other thing they could use is volunteers. They get shipments from Greater Boston Food Bank as well as other food donors – some need pickups, others just need unloading. The work all takes place on Thursdays and Fridays, the pantry is open to clients on Friday afternoons. Another volunteer opportunity is musical talent. The wait time for clients can be long, so people have started playing the piano and other instruments to pass the time more pleasantly. The food pantry is easily accessed via a handicap ramp that leads to the door of the pantry. Anyone in need is welcome. No proof of need is required, only your name and town of residence.

Jane Merrow, is the director of the program.

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