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Local hunger 'an ongoing concern'

Economy continues to push need up

Walter Payant makes space on a shelf for new food in the main room of the parish pantry Monday, Sept. 17. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
September 19, 2012
SOUTHBRIDGE — Over the last two weeks, local Catholics took home around 800 bags and returned about 500 of them full of supplies for the Blessed John Paul II Parish's annual food collection.

"It's not just needed once or twice a year, but it's an ongoing concern," said Walter Payant, who runs the pantry. "… About 10 to 15 percent of the people [who come] here are really desperate. They get one visit a month, and that helps them pay other bills. That's all we can really do."

Last month, the pantry saw a total of 826 people, of which 270 were first-time visitors. Rev. Peter Joyce said he thinks that reflects both growing need because of the economy and the fact the parish recently expanded the pantry itself, making it easier to get to, among other things.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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