Organ pipes in the Sanctuary of First Church in Cambridge. A wrought iron chandelier hangs in the foreground.

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Food Pantry Update

November 1, 2020

Eighty families: that’s how many were served at the most recent monthly opening of the Food Pantry, to which First Church donates. Each family probably represents at least two people, and possibly quite a few more. So that’s, let’s say, 250 people of all ages whom you have helped to feed in these very difficult times.

Your bags of cans and packages, left on our front porch (which I check several times a day), are stored in our downstairs bathroom during the month between food pantry days. The bathtub fills up with bags and sometimes the donations overflow onto a kitchen counter.

The Friday before food pantry day, which is the second Saturday of the month, I take out all the cans and packages and array them on our dining room table, putting all the cereal together and all the pasta together and all the soups together, and so on. I have to discard things, sometimes, which are past their expiration date or are already open. Then I rebag everything, putting all the cereals in their own bags and all the soups in their own bags, and so on. I write a little note saying what kind of thing is in each bag, and staple the notes to the bags. This makes it a lot easier for Paula, who organizes the pantry, to lay out your donations in the food pantry room. Then my husband and I haul everything downstairs and put all the bags in our car, pretty much filling it up.

Saturday morning at 6:45 a.m., we drive the short distance to the Fresh Pond Apartments where the pantry is. I pound on the pantry room door; Paula opens it, and we carry everything in. The room is filled with cartons and boxes of food, donated by Food For Free, Gleaners, and other large food rescue organizations. Last time I saw a lot of bananas, some green and some brown, and not much in between. I don’t know what time Paula gets there, but I know it must be about 5 a.m. She has helpers who come later in the morning, but right now she is by herself, dealing with all this stuff. She thanks us and First Church profusely, and we say goodbye until next month.

Then my husband and I go across the way and treat ourselves to Dunkin’ coffee and donuts. Meantime, people will begin lining up at the Food Pantry with their bags, waiting for it to open at 11:00 a.m. People from 80 families, sometimes. Food Pantry donation is a small thing for us, and probably for you. But it’s not a small thing for those 80 families. Is this right?? What is wrong with this picture…?

– Hilary Hopkins, Donations Coordinator