SOUTHWICK – Our Community Food Pantry, which serves Southwick, Granville and Tolland, has been providing weekly meals to families throughout the pandemic.
Director Sally Munson said in addition to groceries, the Pantry has provided weekly Kid’s Bags, which includes five breakfasts, lunches, snacks and beverages, since March 1. The cost of the Kid’s Bags, which Munson said would be about $30 if all the items were purchased individually, are normally covered by the United Way. Kid’s Bags are offered during school vacations and one weekend a month. However, since COVID-19, the Pantry has been giving out the bags weekly and quickly depleted its United Way funds.
To help keep the program going, the Southwick Rotary Club donated $700 to the Pantry.
Rotary President Mike Parent said that the Rotary organization has historically been supportive of the needs of the local community. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, the community and our nation continue to struggle with the essential resources required as a result of so many people losing their jobs. More and more residents are looking for help from food pantries and the demand is very high,” said Parent.
Munson said the donation is much needed and will go a long way to feeding children in the community.
“We will continue to offer Kid’s Bags until they go back to school,” said Munson, noting that will likely be in mid-September.
Parent said the donation was possible through a special fund created by Rotary District 7890 that “allows all clubs to distribute funds as needed in each community.”
Our Community Food Pantry offers anywhere from 40-100 pounds of food per family per week, depending on family size. In addition to non-perishable pantry staples, the Pantry is able to offer dairy and protein options, which vary weekly.
“This week we had yogurt and cheese,” Munson said. “Next week we have kielbasa and last week we had pork roast, so people should come every week to get a different variety of food.”
Through the partnership with the Western Massachusetts Food Bank, the Pantry is also able to offer other fresh foods such as fruits, vegetable, eggs and more.
“We also have residents who plant a row for us when they plant their vegetable garden and donate fresh vegetables to us each week,” Munson said. “And we had someone purchase a CSA farm share for us and we have a few people who have CSAs and cannot eat everything they receive so they bring us what they don’t need.”
Munson said there are over 400 families served by the Pantry, a number that has remained steady throughout the pandemic. She said some families have not needed the Pantry because they received federal COVID funding, while other families new to the Pantry relied on the food each week.
“I expect we will have more people coming in the next few weeks because the COVID funds have ended for the unemployed,” she said.
Munson said anyone wishing to make a monetary donation can send a check to Our Community Pantry, 220 College Highway, Southwick, MA 01077 or visit the Pantry’s Facebook page to donate online. Donations of unexpired non-perishable food items are also accepted.
Anyone in need of food should contact Munson at 413-569-9876. Pantry hours are Mondays from 3-5 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – noon and Thursdays from 5-6 p.m.
“If anyone is compromised, they should call be to set up a private appointment to pick up food,” said Munson.
Southwick Rotary members follow the “Service above Self” motto. The Club meets at Nora’s Restaurant every Wednesday at 6 p.m. For information, visit southwickrotary.org or Facebook (Southwick Rotary) or contact Parent at 413-626-4700 or [email protected].