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Food pantries brace for winter

Local need seen as on the rise

CHIP-IN director Darlene Rollins, left, accepts one of the regular donations from David Stewart, who she affectionately calls “The Bean Man” because he always brings boxes of baked beans. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
November 18, 2010
With winter descending, many people in the area are going to have to make their annual choice between food and fuel. And the cost of both is going up.

That's why local food pantries are in more need of help this year than last — and they argue the need has been rising for years.

Ray Fournier, president of Southbridge's FoodShare pantry, noted he's seeing "staggering numbers," with around 500 people a month each of the last several months. But that's likely to rise to 600 or 700 monthly by January or February.

"Right now, for many people, it's 'We get that oil and where will we get food?'" he said. "They know they can come here."

North of the border in Charlton, the CHIP-IN pantry sees only about one-tenth of the traffic, serving about 60 families a month on average, director Darlene Rollins said.

"Charlton has been very, very good to us. Given the economy, we've been very lucky," she said. "We really have no need right now; we're doing really well" in terms of supplies.

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

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