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Food drives to combat hunger in region


April 28, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — In the richest country that's ever existed, it seems implausible that people go hungry. But too many do.

For the next two weeks, local residents are being asked to help make a dent in that problem. This Saturday is the semi-annual food drive for St. Mary's Pantry at three local supermarkets; on May 8 is the nationwide "Stamp Out Hunger" drive run by the National Association of Letter Carriers at your mailbox.

"There's a perception by the public that the same people come to us all the time," said Bill Mason, coordinator at St. Mary's Pantry on Marcy Street. "But we're seeing many, many new families who have never come before. … With the senior program starting up, there's even more of a need."

Specifically, Mason said, his group alone has seen a 30 percent increase in "all-new families who are looking for help."

A lot of it is a long-term economic issue — rent, utilities, food and other prices keep rising, but the value of many people's paychecks stay the same or have fallen. According to U.S. Census data, the median household income (in 2008 dollars) started in 1990 at $47,818, rose to $52,500 in 2000, but then fell to $50,303 by 2008 (and has continued to fall due to the Recession). In effect, median income rose 5.2 percent over 18 years.

See Friday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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