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Norfolk/Wrentham - Local Town Pages

Food Pantries Address Local Needs

 By Joe Stewart

The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) recently published its third annual statewide report analyzing food insecurity in Massachusetts.  New analysis this year found that in 2022 one in three households in Massachusetts experienced child-level food insecurity; “... This means that a child was hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because there wasn’t enough money for food.”  Further, “... approximately 1.8 million adults reporting household food insecurity, or 33% of the state’s population. Many people struggle with food insecurity chronically, with one in three individuals reporting running out of food or not having enough money to get more food every month.”

The GBFB report is available online,, and was created in collaboration with Mass General Brigham and supported by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) through a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant.

Diana Eastty, longtime Wrentham resident and board member of the Wrentham Food Pantry, shared that needs have increased significantly year over year: in 2022, the pantry supported 25 families per week, while this year the pantry supports 45-50 families per week. For the holidays, more than 75 families registered for the Christmas meal distribution. 

Eastty noted that short term demand comes from people who find themselves between jobs, experiencing a health issue, or suddenly in temporary housing, any of which can lead to food insecurity. There are others who need help on a longer-term basis, most often due to ongoing health issues. This year, the Wrentham Food Pantry has partnered with Wrentham’s Public Health Nurses to provide food to some shut ins.   

Carolyn Sweeney, a Wrentham Food Pantry volunteer for more than 15 years, shared that she volunteers in part because as a child her parents struggled financially. Sweeney noted that the pantry sometimes has “extras” beyond the essential food, such as fresh produce and coupons for a Christmas tree.   

A source of fresh produce is Wrentham’s White Barn Farm, which regularly donates fresh produce to local food pantries, including the ones in Franklin, Plainville, and Wrentham.  Chris Kantlehner, owner, noted that Massachusetts has put effort into making fresh local food available to everyone through programs such as EBT, HIP, and SNAP.  The White Barn Farm is currently running a “Potato Promotion” to provide locally grown potatoes to the food pantry.

The Wrentham Lions Club donates Christmas trees to the Wrentham Food Pantry. Greg Stahl, past Lions Club president and current Christmas Tree chairman, noted that the Lions have donated trees since they began selling them twelve years ago. The Lions typically provide 10-12 trees every year to the pantry.

Similar services are provided by the Norfolk Food Pantry, which is located at Emmanuel Baptist Church (EBC), 63 Rockwood Road (Rt. 115).   Volunteers operate the pantry under the direction of the EBC Mission Board. One volunteer, Dee, who asked that we not share her last name, noted that she began volunteering more than 25 years ago. Today, the pantry supports about 30 families per month, though fewer seniors than in years past. Currently, none of the families have babies so there’s no need for donations of items such as formulae and diapers. Dee shared that despite Norfolk being a fairly wealthy town, families do need help from time to time.  

To receive food, the pantry asks that you provide proof of Norfolk residency, like a driver’s license, and that you pick up the food on Saturday mornings between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. 

Donations of non-perishable foods are accepted on Saturday mornings as well as Tuesday-Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Fresh vegetables are welcome, although please coordinate with the pantry ahead of time.

The Wrentham Food Pantry is located on the first floor of the Whiston House behind the Original Congregational Church at the corner of Routes 140 and 1A.  The pantry is open every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to noon. To receive food, present a piece of dated mail as proof of Wrentham residency, such as a utility bill or lease agreement that includes your name and address. In addition, a photo ID for each member of your family is required. If your family includes a child in school without a photo ID, a report card or something similar can be used as an ID.

Donations of non-perishable foods can be dropped off at Saint Mary’s Church, the Original Congregational Church, Trinity Church, the Wrentham Public Library, and in the donation shed right next to the pantry. Donations of money are accepted online and via check....