Time to talk turkey

by Tim Kane

Food pantry seeks donations for holiday season

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY – It’s a holiday commercially depicted with lavish place settings, bountiful tables of golden goods and traditional trimmings – Thanksgiving.
But for some in South Hadley, all of this turkey talk is a tease. With the declined economy paired with the rising cost of living, a holiday meal of nutritious value is likely out of reach for families in need.
About 600 families in South Hadley are food insecure, said new Neighbors Helping Neighbors [NHN] Food Pantry Executive Director Cindy St. George. “They often don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”
And with cuts to the food stamp program, said St. George, “the hungry public really is going to be impacted.”
The NHN food pantry strives to meet the needs of their clients, keeping the South Hadley community “first and foremost” said St. George. “The faces of the hungry are here.”
But the pantry is only considered an “emergency food pantry,” with the limited capacity to offer just four days of food for a family out of an entire month.
“We can’t meet all the needs,” said St. George. The pantry is more like a safety net. “It’s a help,” she said, “but it’s only a partial help.”
Clients enrolled with the NHN food pantry will receive a chicken or turkey this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, as well as a pan in which to cook, based on their family size. And to that end, the food pantry is looking to the local community for help with donations.
Wondering what to donate? All the fixings. Frozen turkeys or chicken, instant potatoes, canned potatoes, stuffing, canned yams, canned vegetable, soups, cranberry sauce, gravy, pie crusts and pumpkin pie mix. Additionally juice, cooking oil, tuna, spaghetti sauce and peanut butter and baby food are always needed.
Perhaps the best kind of donation is monetary, as the pantry administration can stretch those funds further at the Western Massachusetts Food Bank.
“We’re definitely helping curb hunger for the holidays,” said St. George. “Certainly as the weather gets colder, it’s really critical.”
She and the pantry volunteers would love to be able to increase their capacity to assist the community.
“We will do everything we can to work with community donations,” she said. “I want them [the community] to know we’re grateful. We couldn’t do it without community support.”
The South Hadley Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Pantry is located at 30 Carew Street, South Hadley Falls, and can be reached at (413) 530-8240 and HYPERLINK “mailto:nhnfoodpantry@hotmail.com” nhnfoodpantry@hotmail.com. Donations are accepted Wednesdays from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m. as well as Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.