When it comes to summer food on Cape Cod, it’s all about cookouts, lobster rolls and soft-serve ice cream. But for lots of year-round residents, summer’s just another season in the struggle to put nutritious food on the table.
“Some of our summer folks might not know it, but the high cost of living means that lots of local families need extra help making ends meet,” Cape Cod Chronicle Publisher Henry C. Hyora said. “Maybe it’s the server from their favorite restaurant, or the landscaper sprucing up their summer house.” Each year, thousands of them turn to the Family Pantry of Cape Cod to close that gap.
As it does each year, The Cape Cod Chronicle is encouraging its readers to contribute to the Family Pantry of Cape Cod as part of its summertime Helping Neighbors campaign. Each week through Labor Day, we’ll be running a list of contributors alongside stories featuring the good work of the Family Pantry and the people who make it possible.
While there are many food pantries serving various parts of the Cape, the Family Pantry is the largest that’s available for anyone to use, without geographic restrictions. Clients have a confidential interview on their first visit and then are entitled to come for food every 14 days. Rather than just picking up pre-bagged groceries, Family Pantry clients can choose which foods their family will like, selecting from frozen meats, cheese, eggs, fresh produce as well as traditional canned and packaged food products.
In some respects, the Cape’s hunger problem is really a housing problem. For year-round Cape residents in the workforce fortunate enough to find housing, rent or mortgage payments consume much of their monthly budget. After utilities and other expenses, there’s little money left over for unforeseen emergencies like a broken-down car, medical expenses or a burst water heater. By helping with another big household expense, food, the Family Pantry helps locals stretch their money, Menard said.
Thanks to efficiencies brought about by the pandemic, the Family Pantry can now serve more clients per hour than ever before with even better customer service. The nonprofit has also expanded its “Healthy Meals in Motion” mobile food pantry, which proved to be a lifeline to senior citizens during COVID-19. The Pantry also helps people connect with federal food assistance and with help paying their home heating bills, and even provides a selection of gently-used clothing for clients to peruse. For some people, the Family Pantry provides a temporary boost when facing hard times, but for an increasing number of working families, it’s part of what makes it possible for them to stay on Cape Cod, Menard said.
or send a tax-deductible donation to The Family Pantry, 133 Queen Anne Rd., Harwich, MA 02645 (please write ” Helping Neighbors ” in the memo line), or call 508 432-6519 to learn about other ways to help.
Learn more about the hidden face of Hunger on the Lower Cape in this special video report: