By Ed Baker
Posted Nov 21, 2018 at 5:10 PM on WickedLocal Weymouth
The unemployment rate in Massachusetts is 3.5 percent, but the need for food assistance in Weymouth households is rising as Thanksgiving Day approaches, according to Pamela Denholm, executive director of the Weymouth Food Pantry.
Denholm said the pantry will help provide approximately 400 families with turkeys and all the trimmings to enjoy on Thursday.
“We have turkey, potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, stuffing, cornbread, and apple pie,” she said. “We pretty much have everything they need to have to have a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with their family and friends.”
Denholm said the food assistance for the families was made possible with donations from the United Way and local donors.
“We are very fortunate to have been able to work with the United Way, who contributed a substantial part portion of the meals,” she said. “We supplement what they have provided with donations that we receive for the pantry. We have been able to buy extra produce and apple pies to round out the meals. We are very thankful for all the food donations. We value the help we get from the United Way and the money donations that allow us to buy things like apple pie, butter, and carrots.”
Denholm said requests for assistance from the food pantry by local families has increased by 10 percent since last year.
“We had a busier summer this year,” she said. “Our numbers are up. Overall, the economy is improving, but people still have to make difficult choices like paying health care bills or buying food. At this time of the year, heating bills are due. I think there are a lot of challenges for lower and middle class families.”
Denholm said the pantry has been able to meet the rising demand for food assistance by providing fresh produce from local farmers through a “Plant Grow Share” program imitative with Interfaith Social Services and Keohane Funeral Home.
“It definitely has helped us in many ways,” Denholm said. “It helps us get more fresh food into the pantry. What I love about it most is, it fosters a sense of community by neighbors taking care of neighbors, which is just as important.”
Denholm said the pantry staff recently planted a community garden at Old South Union Church, which assists the pantry with distributing groceries to families in need weekly on Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m.
The pantry recently began serving households in need of food assistance by opening a satellite or “pop-up” pantry at First Church of Weymouth, Nov. 6.
The pantry at First Church is open weekly on Tuesday, 10-11 a.m.
Denholm said the pantry plans to relocate its weekly distribution of food in the Monsignor Hackett Center at Immaculate Conception Church to Crossroads Worship Center in January.
“We will be finishing up at the Hackett Center this December,” she said.
Denholm said the pantry has pleasant memories of its food distribution at the Hackett Center during the past 30 years.
“We have a lot of photos,” she said.
Denholm said the pantry staff is also gearing up to provide meals for families who celebrate holidays in December, like Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanza.
“We expect to serve the same of families then like we did for Thanksgiving,” she said.
Denholm said the pantry is seeking sponsors to provide meals for a local family to enjoy when they celebrate a holiday.
Details about the sponsorship of a family will be announced by the pantry on Nov. 27 at the agency’s website.
Details for this report provided by the Associated Press.