Labor Day Means A Final Push For Family Pantry; Once Again, ‘Helping Neighbors’ Donors Deliver

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Hunger

Around 650 volunteers give their time for the Family Pantry of Cape Cod. Some work with clients, and others operate the warehouse. Other workers run Second Glance, the Family Pantry’s upscale thrift shop in West Harwich, and others work in the garden out back, which provides a big harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables each year. FILE PHOTO

Somehow, being “poor”
Doesn’t matter here,
Because the heart of this place
Is in every volunteer!

A few months ago, a client of the Family Pantry was inspired to write a poem, excerpted above, expressing her feelings about the organization and its workers. Asking for help is never easy, but the Family Pantry helps clients in a way that is both comprehensive, compassionate and respectful.

“I enjoy coming to the Family Pantry of Cape Cod for the great selection of food, the nice boutique, and not the least, to meet up with my friends, the wonderful volunteers,” she wrote. “They not only show that they care about me, but it is obvious they care about each other as well. And I so enjoy their great sense of humor.”

Some clients rely on the Family Pantry to help them through rough economic patches. One wrote that she recently had to visit to receive some groceries, “and once again I was embarrassed, but everyone there was superb,” she wrote. “The groceries will help my family for many weeks to come! I’ll never be able to say how much you have all helped me throughout the years.”

For other clients, the nutritious groceries they receive help them weather other challenges in life like medical emergencies. One note tells the story about a local retiree who is living with lung cancer and is grateful that Medicare and private insurance help him receive the treatment he needs.

“But he and his wife found that they had less and less money available for food, especially healthy food. They had gone down to one good meal per day before finding [the Family Pantry],” the person wrote. The man “is thrilled with our produce selections. He has been coming here long enough to have seen this section grow. They now have meals almost entirely [of] veggies because of us. Healthy eating is helping his cancer treatment.”

Another note, penned in the careful cursive script of an older person, was written around the holidays.

“As our family sat around the table for Thanksgiving, I shared with them how blessed we were. The food on our table was mostly from the food pantry! We are so thankful for you and the volunteers. You do so much for so many,” the person wrote.

It’s clear that the Family Pantry of Cape Cod makes a real difference in the lives of local people, but providing nearly $4 million in nutritious food to around 10,000 clients each year is an expensive proposition. There’s still a chance to contribute to the Cape Cod Chronicle’s summertime Helping Neighbors campaign, which ends on Labor Day.

Since Memorial Day, the Cape Cod Chronicle's readers have donated more than $15,000. That's a great achievement – it will help purchase about 60,000 nutritious meals for local families – but it's far short of the campaign's $60,000 goal. The good news is that the donations continue to arrive, and a $5,000 matching grant remains in place.

“The Lower Cape is fortunate to have so many people of means who own second homes here or who choose to spend time here in the summer,” Cape Cod Chronicle Publisher Henry C. Hyora said. “We’re specifically asking these people to contribute to Helping Neighbors, which helps support the year-round families and the seasonal workers who help make Cape Cod such a special place during the visitor season.” As it has done since 2004, The Chronicle will be holding the holiday edition of Helping Neighbors between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, when year-round residents tend to pitch in.

Contribute to The Chronicle’s summertime Helping Neighbors campaign by sending a tax-deductible contribution to The Family Pantry, 133 Queen Anne Rd., Harwich, MA 02645, writing “Helping Neighbors” in the memo line. Donors can also text the word “hunger” to 80100 to donate $20, or donate online by clicking here. The Chronicle will publish a final list of donors next week.