Food Pantry Meeting Community Needs
By Angie Fitton
It will come as no surprise to anyone that there has been an uptake in food insecurities nationwide. Wrentham is no exception.
In a normal year, the Wrentham food pantry has anywhere from 75-100 clients. Some come every week, some come monthly, and some come occasionally. This year, however, the food pantry has seen an increase in families registering and coming down to receive food at no cost.
Diana Eastty, the food pantry’s Communications Director, wants more Wrentham residents to learn about the food pantry. “The important thing people need to know is that it’s open to anyone who lives in Wrentham,” Eastty emphasizes.
Many food pantries are state-funded, especially in the Greater Boston area. However, the Wrentham food pantry is not under the umbrella of the government. It runs solely on donations from residents of the town. The Original Congregational Church began the pantry over 30 years ago, and in addition to donations from residents, it survives with the help of other local churches.
“We live in a very generous community,” states Eastty. “We survive strictly on monetary and food donations from those in town.” There have been occasions where children in the community have had food drives as school extra credit or assignments, or community service. While children are not allowed to volunteer inside the food pantry due to anonymity concerns, Eastty notes they have done a great deal to help regardless.
Because the food pantry is not state-funded, there are no income requirements to receive assistance. Some people won’t even consider the idea of utilizing the food pantry because they may think they make too much money. However, the only things needed to receive free food are a bill proving your address is in Wrentham, and an ID that matches.
Prior to COVID-19, clients were allowed, two at a time, into the food pantry to shop for their own groceries. However, now clients drive up and receive a shopping list. Once they circle what they need, volunteers fill the order and bring it to the client’s car. Eventually, the food pantry hopes to let clients in once again so they can choose their own foods.
Before the pandemic, the percentage of households in Massachusetts with food insecurities was at 8.2%. At its highest, the food insecurity rate hit 19.6% because of issues related to COVID-19. The SNAP program has been issuing additional food stamps monthly to try and counter the state’s food insecurities, but with the rising costs of food, even that may not be enough.
How can you help the Wrentham food pantry? They have a website, designed to allow for monetary donations (Wrenthamfoodpantry.org/donate). You can also peruse the website, which shares with the public what the food pantry needs, and what it has an abundance of and doesn’t need. As it is summer vacation, and the pantry tends to give out “extras” with the knowledge that kids are not receiving breakfast and lunch at school, now is a pivotal time to donate, if you can.
The food pantry is located at the Original Congregational Church, 1 East Street in Wrentham, and is open every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Should you need assistance, or for more information, call 508-384-3110. The phone number is monitored by the church.