Weekend drive produces 8 tons of food for bare shelves in NH

Until Monday morning, Erin Torrey and her colleagues at the New Hampshire Food Bank approached every staff meeting with the same angst.

“It was a panic,” said Torrey. “Each week we’d be at the edge of our seats waiting for the numbers. We were all extremely afraid that we were going to bottom out.”

But on Monday, Torrey and her colleagues breathed a momentary sigh of relief as they watched nine Shaw’s trucks drop off more than 16,000 pounds of food at the food bank’s warehouse in Manchester, temporarily pacifying the worst food crisis in over two years.

“The feeling was triumphant,” Torrey said, letting out an energetic giggle.

As part of a weekend food drive, the trucks were parked outside nine different supermarkets across New Hampshire. Inside the stores, people could purchase prepackaged food for $5 and deposit them in the trucks on the way out.

On Monday morning, the New Hampshire Food Bank found the food shipments weighed 16,058 pounds, which roughly translates in to 20,554 meals that will be distributed to 352 different agencies, including soup kitchens, shelters, child-care and elderly care centers around the state.

“It was such a great relief,” said Torrey. “And we are so grateful to all those who helped.”

Despite the relief, the reality is that this recent donation could be gone in as little as a week, said Torrey.

The weekend food drive was a step in the right direction, according to Paul McAvoy, director of communication for the New Hampshire Catholic Charities.

“It was great,” said McAvoy. “Every chance we’ve had, we’ve tried to get in the community and make people aware of the food crisis that we’re experiencing.”

Despite the satisfaction from this recent donation, those involved in solving the food crisis know that there is no quick fix.

“I think tomorrow we’re going to start saying ‘OK, once this food runs out, where are we going to go?’ said Torrey, “The holiday season is going to be tough because many families are going to have to decide between heating their homes and feeding their children, and that’s a horrible decision for anyone to have to make.”

The fact that the food could be gone in such a short time has food agency administrators, like Lisa Christie, executive director of the Nashua Soup Kitchen & Shelter, hoping that the Shaw’s food drive will spark a continuing effort to help the hungry.

“I would hope that as people do their own shopping that they would think about dropping food at shelters or even donating money so we can buy specifics items that the people need,” said Christie. “As a community, we need to work together to make sure that we don’t have any kids going to bed hungry.”

The New Hampshire Food Bank’s warehouse is 2-1/2 stories tall with three tiers of shelving. Until Monday, almost all of those shelves were bare, collecting cobwebs where canned corn belonged.

In order to keep those shelves full, McAvoy emphasized public support, adding that the battle is far from won.

“The problem is not going away,” said McAvoy. “It’s important to us that we keep on doing everything we can to keep our shelves full, keep giving people in our community reasons to get involved and keep advocating for the hungry people here in New Hampshire.”

Andrew Spinali can be reached at 594-5833 or aspinali@nashuatelegraph.com. said Christie. “As a community, we need to work together to make sure that we don’t have any kids going to bed hungry.”

The New Hampshire Food Bank’s warehouse is 2-1/2 stories tall with three tiers of shelving. Until Monday, almost all of those shelves were bare, collecting cobwebs where canned corn belonged.

In order to keep those shelves full, McAvoy emphasized public support, adding that the battle is far from won.

“The problem is not going away,” said McAvoy. “It’s important to us that we keep on doing everything we can to keep our shelves full, keep giving people in our community reasons to get involved and keep advocating for the hungry people here in New Hampshire.”