As its three food pantries grapple with rising demand, leaders at the United Way of Tri-County are launching a new campaign to ensure 3,000 local families have warm meals for the holidays.
The nonprofit organization began this week its Feed-a-Family for Fifty campaign, where the group is seeking $50 donations, which will ensure a family of four has a turkey and full meal or provide up to seven bags of groceries.
"The numbers of people that are now coming to our organization for help especially for food is off the chart and it's very, very concerning," said United Way of Tri-County President Paul Mina.
The United Way’s pantries have seen demand grow in the past year, up 400 percent at the Pearl Street Cupboard and Café in Framingham, 100 percent at Marlborough Community Cupboard and 75 percent at Clinton Community Cupboard/WHEAT Community Services.
At the Framingham pantry, the United Way serves about 500 households per month and often has 15 new households in a week, said Joe Mina, the pantry’s facility manager.
Many of the people seeking United Way food services are working, but are underemployed. They may make too much money to qualify for food stamp programs, but not enough to adequately feed their families, Paul Mina said.
"These folks aren’t waking up saying ‘let’s go to (a pantry)," he said. "This is because they don’t have a lot of options."
United Way of Tri-County Senior Vice President Jen Maseda said a recent study showed the cost of living in MetroWest grew about 10 percent in the last two years, forcing many people to choose between paying utilities, buying food and other essential expenses.
By donating to the campaign, residents can help ensure families are able to carry on traditional holiday meals at a time when the cost of turkeys is rising, she said.
"Being able to sit with your family for a warm meal is really a luxury," Maseda said.
To donate to the drive, which ends Dec. 30, visit uwotc.org/feed4fifty. For more information, call Paul Mina at 888-811-3291, ext 4824.
(Brian Benson can be reached at 508-626-3964 or email@example.com.)