In 1990 clergy from six Southborough parishes set up a food pantry in a small closet at Pilgrim Church. More than twenty years later, volunteers say the need for the service is as great as it’s ever been.
“Our shelves are empty,” Marge Coldwell said last week. Coldwell has been volunteering at the United Parishes of Southborough Food Pantry since 2001.
The pantry currently serves 60 local families, with each family having anywhere from one to seven members. Many are children and many are seniors. To qualify for food pantry services, a family must either live in Southborough or attend one of the member churches.
Coldwell says the pantry is a lifeline for many in our community: seniors on fixed incomes, families in which the parents are out of work, families struggling with health issues. “We have people who have to make a decision between medicine and food,” she said.
The pantry relies largely on donations from Southborough residents to fill their shelves. Each school does a monthly food drive to collect specific items the pantry needs, but the biggest source of donations is the annual Scouting for Food drive, which takes place tomorrow.
Last year Southborough scout troops collected more than 11,000 pounds of food donated by Southborough residents. “It gets us through the year,” Coldwell says.
To supplement what it receives from residents, the pantry also gets donations from area corporations like Cumberland Farms and BJ’s. The pantry has a small fridge and freezer which lets them store things like meat, cheese, cakes, and pies that are donated by BJ’s.
Despite the generous donations, Coldwell says it hasn’t been easy to keep the pantry stocked. “We’ve had to draw down our savings account to keep the shelves full for our clients,” she said.
Coldwell encourages residents to give generously during tomorrow’s Scouting for Food drive. The pantry gets plenty of pasta and soup, but always needs higher-cost items like beef stew, canned chicken and chili.
They also always need individual snack packs and juice pouches/boxes that kids can bring to school for snack. “It makes a kid stand out if they’re the only one at school who doesn’t have a snack,” Coldwell said.
Monetary donations and gift cards for grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations are also always welcomed, as are donations of pet food.
Donations are accepted throughout the year. In addition to boxes at each school, there are new collection boxes at Walgreens in Southboorugh and at Middlesex Savings Bank in downtown Southborough. Donations can also be dropped off at any of the member churches (Pilgrim, St. Anne, St. Mark’s, St. Matthew, and First Community Church) during normal church hours.
Update: I originally said the collection box was at the Middlesex Savings Bank in the Town Center Plaza. It’s not, it’s downtown. Thanks, Mrs. Coldwell, for the correction!