During the holiday season, please remember the Wellesley Food Pantry, which has seen a significant downturn in donations from this time in 2022. “We had about $70k in donated items last year, but are down quite a bit this year,” Pantry volunteer Peter Lull said. “Inflation has tightened people’s wallets a bit.”
Other reasons donations are down is because two very important annual drives were placed on hold—the USPS Stamp Out Hunger food drive did not happen in May, and for the third year in a row the Scouting for Food Drive (typically the first Saturday in Nov.) has been canceled. (The scouts are, however, conducting mini-food drives—see #7.)
The Food Pantry spends $10K-$14K per month to stock its shelves with the nutritious food options volunteers make available to its current list of 175 clients. To tighten up the bottom line, “We are looking at the best ways for substituting in some cheaper options and cutting some other offerings like personal care items or laundry detergent,” Lull said.
Maybe with a reminder that there is very real need in Wellesley, it doesn’t have to come to that. Here are 10 ways you can help your Wellesley neighbors this holiday season:
1) Drop off donations at the Food Pantry
You can do a curbside drop-off on Mondays, 2pm-3pm, at the west entrance of Wellesley Hills Congregational Church, 207 Washington St.
2) Donate money to the Food Pantry
Visit www.wellesleyfoodpantry.org and click on the “donate” button at the bottom of the page. Or you can write a check to Wellesley Food Pantry and mail it to 207 Washington Street, Wellesley MA 02481.
3) Have a Wellesley Middle Schooler? Step right up for the Turkey Promenade
The Turkey Promenade is a WMS pre-Thanksgiving tradition that promotes health, fitness and giving. In the past, the students have lapped the school a couple of times during a fun run/walk. If the weather is bad, they trot up and down the halls instead. Some students take the Promenade seriously and are in it to win it (cross-country team?). Others dress up in their best turkey wattles or Puritan attire and stroll the route, enjoying a respite from class. Homerooms collect donations during the week before the Nov. 23 and the day of the event. Parents and guardians take on the enormous task of sorting all the goods in the gym (expired food—no!). After the Promenade, students walk through the gym and marvel at the piles of donations and what can happen when teamwork kicks in. The Food Pantry is one of the organizations that receives Turkey Promenade donations.
4) Drop off donations at your house of worship
Some of Wellesley’s religious organizations maintain a drop-off point for food items, which volunteers then run over to the Pantry.
5) Drop off donations at Roche Bros., Whole Foods, or Linden Square
Both grocery stores have a convenient drop box—the Whole Foods drop box is located as you exit the store, and the Roche Bros. box is located after the registers.
Pantry volunteers also do occasional pop-up drives in front of Roche Bros., setting up a table in front of the store and passing out a checklist of top needs. Shoppers are encouraged to shop off the list during their grocery run, or pick up gift card to donate to the Pantry. Scheduled so far is a drive on Sat., Nov. 19, in partnership with the National Charity League.
Businesses in Linden Square will host collection boxes from Monday, Dec. 5- 12.
6) Donate vegetable garden largesse from your cold-weather crops
Residents can drop fresh produce donations on Tuesdays, 8am-11:30am, in the Wellesley Hills Church kitchen. From the west entrance, go down the stairs and to the right before entering the assembly room.
7) Participate in your neighborhood’s mini-food drive
The Food Pantry is planning some mini-food drives that will target specific neighborhoods for donation pick-ups by local scout troops. Look for flyers in your mailbox. The scouts are determined to get as many donations to the Pantry as possible, so please respond generously to their collection efforts.
8) Organize your own mini-drive at your holiday party
Ask your guests to forgo the customary host/ess gift and instead bring items to be donated to the Food Pantry.
9) Donate in someone’s honor
Last year a long-time Pantry volunteer passed away, and donations poured in in his honor. The Pantry has really felt the pinch since that stream of generosity ended. So whether you’re looking for a meaningful way to remember a passed loved one, or you want to donate in the name of someone alive and well, please do so.
10) Give what’s most needed
Certain items are in demand right now at the Pantry:
Mac & cheese
Dinty Moore Beef Stew
Canned green beans