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Food banks have increasing need for nonperishables

The newest guests at the Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter in Peterborough are a family. They heard about MATS at The River Center, where our case manager, Susan, now participates — connecting community members to resources they need, as well as offering guidance to people coping with issues of homelessness.

Since our new family had nowhere else to turn, they are very happy to be at MATS. They feel that working with Susan will help them get back on their feet. Both parents need a job and they have no transportation at the moment. To find work and to maintain a job once found, they clearly will need a car in the very near future. In the meantime, the father is interviewing at places where he can walk from the shelter.

While jobs all over America have become more plentiful in recent months, the number of people unemployed for more than 26 weeks is still remains high for more than 4 million people. Even if both parents do have work, many families still can’t take care of their monthly expenses without depending on other services. And 52 percent of fast food workers have to rely on other benefits, such as food stamps to make ends meet. All of this definitely affects the 17 million children across the country who experience homelessness.

Along with this, state food banks are finding it harder to provide enough nonperishable items to local food pantries who in turn give it to the people in need. In 1980, there were 200 food banks in the United States; today, there are over 20,000, according to a recent report on CBS news.

In New Hampshire, our state food bank has seen a decline in the amount of nonperishable foods donated to them from grocery stores around the state. This in turn impacts what our two local food pantries can offer to the Monadnock area citizens who visit them.

“Susan has been really helpful,” our new guests told me recently. She assisted them in getting food stamps right away, and she also is encouraging them as they work through some legal issues. They do visit the local food pantries, and we spoke about their taking advantage of the complimentary suppers at the three local churches that offer them.

This family is motivated to move on with their lives, and we talked about their goals: to find work; to save so that they can better provide for their family. I wish them great success.

Wish list: car; toddler bed and linens; Pampers (all sizes, especially new born and size 2); baby wipes

Hope Pettegrew of Hancock is a former board member but remains a volunteer for MATS. MATS is a transitional shelter, not an emergency shelter. MATS collaborates with The River Center.

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