Earlier this week, Aftermath announced the winner of the 2015 Aftermath Community Matters Giveaway. When asked to name a charity to receive the $2500 grant, winner Detective James Murray of the Spencer, MA Police Department quickly nominated the Mary Queen of the Rosary Food Pantry. Shortly after, we spoke with Kathy Sullivan, Director of the pantry, about her experience working with the Spencer community. Our interview captures
A food pantry is run like an ordinary supermarket, except the “customers” don’t pay to fill their carts with groceries. Instead, the charity depends on local businesses and community members to help keep the shelves stocked. Director Kathy Sullivan relates: “Each family we serve gets 7-10 days of food, and we help over 200 families a month on average. That number is higher during the winter. Holidays are the busiest time of year for us as there are many other expenses people have to contend with during that time. Increased heating and electric bills mean that people have less money for food. That’s where we come in.”
A dozen volunteers at the pantry work hard, lifting heavy boxes of food and restocking the shelves. Another core group of elderly volunteers routinely pick up bread and other perishables at nearby supermarkets. “Rain or shine, even in snow, they’re out there making sure that these families have the basics. They are amazing people.” However, many of the volunteers are unable to do the heavy lifting needed to move supplies and transport large boxes. “We always need more hands,” Sullivan says.
On a day to day basis, the pantry gives out grocery staples, including shelf stable products like pasta, peanut butter, and tuna. Fresh meat is in short supply, and there is constant need for necessities which many take for granted: laundry detergent, dish soap, toothpaste, tooth brushes, deodorant, and soap are just a few of the items needed. However, food supplies and money are always tight, limiting the amount of food the pantry is able to give to each client. “We’re very grateful for the money that Det. Murray is donating to us,” Sullivan states. “It will go a long way toward making sure every family that comes to us gets what they need.”
Though the pantry is located in the basement of the Mary Queen of the Rosary Church, it is non-denominational. Funding for the charity comes from small grants, local businesses, and church groups. In addition to food, the pantry also serves as a resource for clients, providing them with information on additional services such as food stamps. Sullivan emphasizes the Pantry’s mission: “We hope to touch everyone who comes to us with the love of God, and make a difference in the quality of their lives.”
When asked about the Pantry’s relationship with the local police and Det. Murray, the Director is full of praise. “We are so blessed because people are looking out for us,” Sullivan says. Detective Murray and other officers often assist with the holiday overload, including packaging and handing out holiday gift baskets, which allow families to enjoy a full meal with all the fixing during the holiday season.
As for the pantry’s plans for the future, Sullivan says they intend to help as many families as they are able. “As more people become aware of the genuine need for this service, they realize how others are struggling. Our purpose is to see to the needs of those less fortunate. We’re all only a paycheck away from a food pantry. It takes a full community to take care of all of it’s citizens, especially those who are going through rough times.”
The Mary Queen of the Rosary Food Pantry is located at the Mary Queen of the Rosary Church, 60 Maple St, Spencer, MA 01562. To learn about hours or how to volunteer or donate, please contact Kathy at 508-885-3332. Special thanks to Kim Ring and the Telegram Gazette for the use of this photo. Their article on the giveaway can be found on the Telegram website.
Aftermath Services provides assistance to families and businesses nationwide, including the state of Massachusetts. To learn more about biohazard remediation and other trauma cleaning services, call 877-872-4339 or visit our website.