The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 14, 2008


Local food pantries need your help

One of the pleasures of the holiday season is bonding with family and friends around a great meal. But for families who have lost their jobs, face foreclosure or are struggling to make ends meet, this simple pleasure could be a luxury. These difficult economic times are devastating to increasing numbers of families who are forced to rely on local food pantries to meet their basic day-to-day needs.

Several local food pantries are located within ten miles of Carlisle. Their supplies are precariously low, and they need help to refill their shelves to meet the increased demand, both during and after the holiday season.

Drop-off locations in Carlisle

• The U.S. Post Office at 70 Bedford Road has collection boxes in the lobby to collect non-perishable items. These boxes are placed by Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, a non-profit organization in Devens, which has been serving the communities of Ayer, Devens, Groton, Harvard, Littleton and Shirley since 1983. Asked about items that are needed in the pantry, Loaves & Fishes’ Executive Director Patricia Stern said, “We can take anything that any household would put on their pantry shelves.” She added, “The boxes are collected by one of our volunteers once they are full.” The Post Office lobby hours are: Monday to Friday 6:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays, 6 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.

• Charlie Davis of the First Religious Society (FRS) at 27 School Street reported that the church runs a regular “kids collection program every Sunday.” The food contributed is distributed to Open Pantry of Greater Lowell by FRS volunteers. In addition, each year the church donates Thanksgiving dinners and personal gifts for a number of needy families associated with the Stoklosa School in Lowell.

• The Carlisle Congregational Church located at 147 School Street collects non-perishable food items for Open Pantry of Greater Lowell. The collection basket is located in the building and is accessible anytime. According to Administrative Assistant Debbie Pichulo, “Periodically [Open Pantry] asks for cash to buy perishable items.”

Towns surrounding Carlisle

• The Congregational Church of Billerica, located at 803 Boston Road, regularly collects food for the Billerica Food Pantry, which serves Billerica residents in need. The collection boxes are inside the church and are open Sunday mornings after 9 a.m.

• The Chelmsford Community Exchange at 1 North Road (Chelmsford’s old town hall), operates a food pantry run by Sandy Donovan. It is conveniently located at the Chelmsford Common next to the strip mall that has Domino’s and other retail stores. The drop-off is limited to Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6:45 to 7:45 p.m. According to Donovan, “Any Thanksgiving dinner fi xings” are needed.

• First Parish Church at 20 Lexington Road, Concord, serves dinner every week on Thursdays from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. They serve meals and provide groceries for over 100 guests each week. Their website at htm, contains details on volunteering opportunities to cook, serve and distribute dinner.

• Acton Community Supper at 18 Windsor Avenue is open Wednesdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. They collect food for residents of Acton who are in need.

• Merrimack Valley Food Bank located at 735 Broadway Street in Lowell, has a large operation covering the Greater Lowell area, which includes Billerica, Tyngsboro, Lowell, Tewksbury, Chelmsford and Dracut. They run extensive programs to cover several food needs.

In one of their programs, called Mobile Pantry, volunteers deliver monthly groceries to about 250 households with homebound elders or disabled persons. According to Program Director Suellen O’Neill, “Holiday season, we get enough to distribute, but the peak winter months of January, February and March we have historically low supplies.” O’Neill also suggested that foods with low salt, like canned vegetables and soups, are needed for people with dietary restrictions. Details on several volunteering opportunities, including running your own fundraiser, can be found at their website,

Please be generous this Thanksgiving and for the rest of the holiday season. Most of us in Carlisle are blessed with plenty; sharing our good fortune with others expresses the highest form of community spirit. Δ

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito