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By J.D. O’Gara

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Erin Lynch, of the Franklin Food Pantry, recently found out that SNAP benefits will be reduced for those who use them starting this month. No doubt, then, that the 200 Thanksgiving meals that the Franklin Food Pantry provides will be put to good use.
“We order all the turkeys from the Greater Boston Food Bank, then all of the side items are collected by various groups in the community,” says Lynch. Many of these include the churches, and the Food Pantry also works with the Franklin Interfaith Council, among other charitable groups in town.
Overall, says Lynch, about 600 households are registered for the food pantry. About 200 or so come to use the pantry each month, however.
“The 200 comes from the average number,” says Lynch. “Although we have 600 households registered, many of the families are on that line of being able to make ends meet and not. Some don’t need to come every single month, because they’re doing the best they can to make it. They come when they have an unexpected medical bill, or when they have to pay for heating that month.”
Other groups help to care for that vulnerable population as well, says Lynch. “We also know that there are other organizations in town that help them meet their needs, for example, at Thanksgiving, the Friends of Franklin do a lot to help. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, they work through the school nurses to reach out to those families who are on the free lunch program.”
As for Thanksgiving at the food pantry, many churches, says Lynch, have signed up to provide specific items.
“The message we’re trying to spread,” she says, “is that during Thanksgiving and Christmas, people are really in the spirit. Other times of the year, our shelves might be really low. One of the things you really might want to do is sign on to sponsor a shelf at one of our low times of the year. You can pick a particular shelf, for example, in March, either paying for or supplying the particular product that’s on that shelf.”
The Sponsor-a-shelf program, says Lynch, is really geared the Franklin Food Pantry to be able to plan its inventory throughout the year, which items will be covered and which it will need to purchase.
Lynch says one of the things the food pantry is excited about is its new truck.
“That’s sort of step one, bringing a mobile pantry service. We’re looking to utilize the new truck to service different distribution sites,” says Lynch. She says the pantry will be able to take the food to those locations where perhaps there are more senior citizens, something that will be great in the upcoming colder months.
“During the winter, the transportation to the food pantry does become more of a barrier,” she says. It’s hard enough for people to walk to the pantry the rest of the year. If you have a cane or you have a stroller, it’s difficult to walk with the groceries. If you throw an icy walk in there, it makes it even more difficult.”
The Franklin Food Pantry hopes that corporations or smaller local businesses will sponsor the truck and the mobile pantry program. She hopes the holiday spirit will stick around all year long.
“ If we can start to use that enthusiasm we have during the holidays and look at how we can capture that and spread it throughout the year, that will really help us.”
The Franklin Food Pantry is located at 43 West Central Street, Route 140 and can accept donations during business hours, Tuesday - Friday, 9am -1pm. Non-perishables may also be dropped off after hours in the bin by the front door, or monetary donations may be mailed to Franklin Food Pantry, PO Box 116, Franklin, MA 02038. For more information, visit us at franklinfoodpantry.org, like our page on Facebook, or call us at (508) 528-3115.

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