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Food pantry again stocked -- for now
MEXICO -- Thanks to several monetary donations and a large two-town food drive, the shelves of the Greater Rumford Area Ministers and Priests Association (GRAMPA) food pantry, which operates out of the Green Church, are now fully stocked -- at least until the end of the year.
The area's largest food pantry, whose coverage area is all of Mexico, Rumford, and on the Rt. 17 side of Roxbury and Byron, was nearly barren at one point last month, noted Director Sue Byam.
"I've never seen a year like this. This is bad. We had a record number of clients in August,"she noted.
The latest donation came in the form of a $500 check, courtesy of the Mexico Lions Club.
President Jim Theriault that following a letter requesting a donation to the food pantry from Reggie Arsenault (who led the recent two-town food drive), he approached the membership of the Lions, who quickly suggested $500, which passed.
"We used to give out food baskets for the holidays. We thought this was a worthy cause," he noted, adding that this is large amount for a small club, which has maybe a dozen active people from their 34 members.
Byam indicated that at the start of the November, the food pantry's shelves included a single box of cereal. She said obvious needs of the pantry at this time include cereal, soups and canned baked beans.
Financial donations, no matter what amount, are also valuable. That's because for every dollar GRAMPA receives, they can purchase 16 pounds of food from the Good Shepherd Food-Bank. However, Byam said the supplies are also low at the food bank, where the variety is also limited.
The statistics show a dramatic increase in people using GRAMPA. GRAMPA served 426 families or 965 citizens from January to July in 2010. This year from January to July, the pantry served 619 families or 1,457 citizens, an increase of 492 people.
At the end of October, Byam said they supplied food to 57 more families (128 people) than at this time a year ago. Further, from the time of Arsenault's first food drive, GRAMPA's use has increased by 145 families (319 people).
She said they're serving between 120 and 150 families per month, with about 25 percent of those being new patrons. Each family receives an average of 37 pounds of food.
Byam said GRAMPA also uses contributions from FEMA and United Way to stock the shelves. They were told they would be receiving $3,400 in funding, which they normally receive in October. They are still waiting.
She said the pantry has also benefitted from the efforts of the Holy Savior School, which donated soup items one month and is donated canned vegetables during the next.
Jim Theriault, president of the Mexico Lions Club, presents a $500 check to Sue Byam, director of the Greater Rumford Area Ministers and Priests Association (GRAMPA) food pantry. Along with other monetary and food donations, the food pantry's shelves now have enough supplies to at least get them through the rest of the year. (Times photo by Bruce Farrin)