NH's food pantries feeling the squeeze


Food pantries are seeing an increased demand for their services as more workers are laid off and families struggle to pay bills. About five years ago, the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter was averaging about 800 different families a year. Just in the last 11 weeks of this year they have already seen 431 separate families, according to Eileen Brady, social worker and advocate of the soup kitchen. "We're seeing families we used to see," she said. "They are very disappointed to come back." In November there was an 18 percent increase in food demand and by the beginning of March, there was a 29 percent increase, Brady said. They went from seeing 45 households a week this time last year to 69 households a week. "We've been seeing 20 new people weekly," Brady said. Be a part of this project On a larger scale, the New Hampshire Food Bank has seen demand rise dramatically in a year's time. In 2008, 322,501 pounds of food was distributed by the food bank; in February, 448,781 pounds was distributed, an increase of 38 percent, according to Anne Dalton, development director for the food bank. "I would say that's a huge increase," she said. The food bank distributes to 385 nonprofit agencies, but the number changes every month. Locally, other pantries are experiencing the same dilemma - more requests for help with a continuing struggle to keep supplies up. Grace Lutheran Church opened up a food pantry in September that services those who live in south Nashua. Sharlene Peterson, youth director, said when it first opened, they were seeing 13 different households and last month they saw 20. Food is offered on the second Thursday of each month and Peterson said they are already trying to increase the offering. In February, the St. John Neumann food pantry in Merrimack helped 116 households and 340 people with 15,300 meals. "We've gone from seeing 20-25 families a week to between 30-40," said Evelyn Verbeck, outreach coordinator.
WHERE TO GET HELP Here are some local food pantries. Many area churches also have their own pantries. CORPUS CHRISTI FOOD PANTRY: 43 Franklin St., Nashua, 882-6372. SALVATION ARMY FOOD PANTRY: 1 Montgomery Ave., Nashua, 883-7841. TOLLES STREET MISSION: 52 Whitney St., Nashua, 880-4984. SHARE: 34 Amherst St., Milford, 673-9898. PELHAM GOOD NEIGHBOR FUND: 58 Heyden Drive, Pelham, 635-3363. NASHUA SOUP KITCHEN & SHELTER: 42 Chestnut St., Nashua, 889-7770. NASHUA CHRISTIAN BIBLE CHURCH: 205 Manchester St., Nashua, 882-1055 NH FOOD BANK: 62 W. Brook St., Manchester, 669-9725 UPPER ROOM COMPASSIONATE MINISTRIES PANTRY: 36 Tolles St., Nashua, 595-2039 SAINT VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY FOOD PANTRY: 27 Library St., Hudson, 883-6048 For more information on the St. John Neumann Church visit www.sjnrcc.org, Grace Lutheran Church visit, www.glcmsnh.org.
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