HomeFundraiserWestford Food Pantry seeks donations, community support this summer

Westford Food Pantry seeks donations, community support this summer


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WESTFORD — The Westford Food Pantry is seeking community support and donations ahead of this summer.

“We’re trying to draw people’s attention [ahead of the summer] when families won’t get that support from schools and food drives,” Tim Baker, president of the Westford Food Pantry told WestfordCAT.

He added, “we try to focus on the kids in the summer because maybe they’re not getting those school lunch programs. We’re looking to fill those gaps for them.”

End of some pandemic-era benefits

Last summer, state lawmakers allocated $110 million toward extending a pandemic-era federal universal school lunch program through the 2023 school year. This spring, lawmakers allocated an additional $65 million to extend the pilot program through the 2024 school year.

Despite these extensions, state-level funding does not cover school meals during summer vacation.

However, students can still receive meals and snacks through Summer Eats, a federally-funded nutritional program administered by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education at a number of sites within the state. A list of sites in Massachusetts has not been published at the time of reporting.

Additionally, the federal government, which expanded the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program during the pandemic, ended supplemental funding in February.

On average, households in Massachusetts saw an average reduction of $162 per month according to a report from the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, a non-partisan research and policy group. Individuals saw an average reduction of $97 per month.

Massachusetts lawmakers recently extended the program through June 2023, providing 40% of the previous federal benefit to nearly 640,000 households in the state. Residents will receive their last extended SNAP payment on June 2.

Baker says the Westford Food Pantry has seen an uptick in registrations as lawmakers sunset pandemic-era benefits programs.

“We’ve seen an uptick over the last few months. At the federal level, [SNAP] benefits were cut. We’re seeing a number of new registrations going on,” he said.

He added, “it has increased the need because those are real dollars that came out of people’s pockets.”

Pantry seeks child-friendly items, donations

A number of canned items, such as stew, beans, potatoes, jelly, peanut butter, soup and tomato sauce are in need.

Westford Food Pantry. (Photo/courtesy)

Additional dry goods, condiments and personal care items such as cereals, sugar, flour, toothpaste, shampoo and deodorants are in need. A full list of items in need can be found on the Westford Food Pantry Website. 

The pantry is also seeking snack bags, juice boxes and child-friendly items for the summer.

Donations can be dropped off at the Cameron Senior Center Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Donations can also be left in collection boxes at Market Basket, Roudenbush Community Center and the Village at Stone Ridge.

Individuals can also send tax-deductible donations to the food pantry directly through PayPal by check addressed to the Westford Food Pantry at 20 Pleasant St. Westford, MA 01886.

Distribution for residents in need 

Residents in need can register in person during distribution hours from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Fridays.

Westford residents are eligible to receive an order once per week. Non-residents from Chelmsford, Lowell, Billerica, Dracut, Groton and Tyngsborough are eligible to receive an order every other week, no more than twice per month.

“They can just show up. We’re a needs-based pantry,” said Baker. “We’ll just need your driver’s license and name. If you need help, come see us.”

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Ben Domaingue
Ben Domainguehttps://www.clippings.me/bendomaingue
Ben Domaingue has previously worked at newspapers in New Hampshire and is the Managing Editor covering Westford. He’s passionate about community journalism, photography and hiking. Email him at bdomaingue@westfordcat.org.

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