Local Food Pantries Still Need Help Medway food pantry highlighted on NBC Nightly News with Lester HoltJan 29, 2021 01:24PM ● By Theresa Knapp
Both the Medway Village Food Pantry and its director Susan Dietrich were featured on NBC Nightly News with Lester Hold on Dec. 15, 2020. THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS PROVIDED BY MEDWAY VILLAGE CHURCH FOOD PANTRY
The Medway Village Church Food Pantry and its director Susan Dietrich were featured on NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Dec. 15, 2020, as part of a segment called “Food banks sound alarm on child hunger as Covid crisis drags on.” Reporter Cynthia McFadden noted Norfolk County (the wealthiest county in Massachusetts) “has the greatest increase of child hunger of anyplace in the country, up 163 percent” in 2020, adding that food prices in the state are “more expensive here than almost anywhere in the country and unemployment is high.”
In 2020, the Medway pantry, located at 170 Village Street, served 7,071 clients (including 2,720 children), an increase of 15.5 percent over the previous year. Last year, the pantry served residents of 30 towns with the majority of clients coming from Medway, Milford, Bellingham and Millis.
“I will tell you, probably the most difficult thing I’ve seen throughout this pandemic are the families that come and bring their children,” Dietrich said. told reporter Cynthia McFadden who noted food prices in Massachusetts are among the highest in the country. “To see a mom walk through the door, with her three little kids, and they’re looking around and mom’s struggling, she’s never done this before either, that’s something that really hits you.”
According to the pantry’s 2020 fact sheet provided by Dietrich, the Medway pantry saw a “significant increase in offerings of diapers, wipes, cleaners, detergents, & personal care items, along with more pantry staples like cooking oil, dry beans, and hearty ready-to-eat meals.”
Currently, the pantry’s most needed items are diced tomatoes, jars of pasta sauce, mayonnaise, cereal, hand soap, diapers, and pull ups sizes 4T-5T.
Items always accepted and appreciated are meals in a can (chili, soup, stew), tuna and canned chicken, 100 percent fruit juices, cookies, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
The Millis Ecumenical Food Pantry, housed in the Church of Christ at 142 Exchange Street, has similar needs.
“Our pantry focuses on non-perishable food items so that would be our biggest need along with household paper products (paper towels and toilet paper),” said director Elizabeth Derwin, who thanks the many Millis residents who have donated during the pandemic. “They have made it possible to keep our shelves well-stocked.”
Other needed items include canned and boxed food, cereal, and laundry detergent. According to their website www.millisfoodpantry.com, “Basic items are great, as is a more upscale item that might be a treat for a family.” Bulk donations are also appreciated, as are monetary donations.
Derwin says that, during COVID, they are serving clients in the parking lot and they have never missed a shift. The pantry’s goal is to provide three days of food per person, plus a pound of butter and a package of hot dogs at each visit.
“Using a checklist of items, one volunteer asks the clients what they need, and then the checklist is sent inside to other volunteers who collect and bag up the desired items. Finally, we put the bagged groceries in the client's trunk,” Dietrich said, noting the only requirement is proof of Millis residency.
TIPS ON HOW TO BUILD A HABIT OF DONATING:
Buy two of everything you buy, one for your house and one for a donation
Buy a case of something and donate it each week
Set a donation box in your home and collect items, bring in the box when it’s full
Your child chooses three of their favorite food items to donate each week