By Paul Mina, President & CEO of United Way of Tri-County
As the days get shorter and colder, fall is truly upon us. It is a time of harvest, celebrating the abundance of a warm New England summer and preparing for the long, cold months ahead. This year, the coming winter months bring a sense of uncertainty, fear, and dread for so many people in our community. It is unlike anything we have seen before, and our three food pantries are ramping up to meet a burgeoning need in the face of a global pandemic.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the Pearl Street Cupboard, Marlborough Community Cupboard, and WHEAT Community Cupboard have served numbers rivaling all of 2019 in the span of only eight months. Many people are turning to food pantries for the first time because they are no longer able to support themselves or their families due to changing financial circumstances brought by layoffs, furloughs, and reduced hours. Food insecurity rates are rising across the Commonwealth. Where 1 in 13 people were hungry prior to COVID-19, now 1 in 8 residents are hungry.
With concerns about housing, school, and mounting bills, individuals and families in need face myriad struggles. Food should not be one of them.
In addition to groceries families get each month, a special holiday meal brings joy and provides time for everyone to reflect and give thanks in a year where hope feels harder to find. Without the large family gatherings of past years, families are finding new ways to celebrate and give thanks over a table full of food. A table you can help fill with a turkey, all the trimmings, and dessert.
The time has never been more critical. If you can help a family in need this year, please visit our website.