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St. Mary's Pantry collecting this weekend

People 'just squeaking by' with zooming food costs

September 22, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — When done right, religion helps feed the human spirit, but this weekend, a few local churches are more directly concerned with feeding the belly.

For the fifth year, Blessed John Paul II Parish is hosting the annual Special Food Drive, in which parishioners of its three churches plus Sturbridge Federated, Elm Street Congregational and Holy Trinity Lutheran will be returning around 700 bags of canned and other nonperishable goods to stock the shelves of the St. Mary's Food Pantry.

To organizer Walter Payant, this year alone has shown a huge increase in need, with many people "just squeaking by." In January, the pantry served 174 households, including 66 seniors; last month, it served 209 households, of which 106 were seniors, he said.

"We have a lot of new people, even though many think it's always the same people who come," Payant observed. "We do have regulars, but other come because there's a short-term need. They might come for five months, then we never see them again."

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

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