Since this is our annual Guide to Gifts and Giving issue, we decided to check in with some local organizations whose businesses rely almost entirely on gifts, but not the kind that come in fancy wrapping paper with big red bows.
We’re talking about food pantries, and there are more than two dozen of them in Merrimack County, with about half of those stationed right here in Concord.
And while it’s great that there are so many of these critical resources so close to home, it’s important to also remember that the food doesn’t magically appear on those shelves and then on the plates of the recipients.
It has to be brought in via donation, and that’s where we can all pitch in.
Food pantries – no matter where in the world – always need more for their shelves. As long as people need to eat, there will always be a need for food pantries, and a need for the food to fill those pantries. And even though the holidays are around the corner from us right now, it’s not just Thanksgiving and Christmas time that there’s a need – people still have to eat in March and July and September and the rest of the months, too.
That’s the main point we got when we checked in with some of Concord’s food pantries last week.
“It wouldn’t be just this time of year,” said Barbara Chellis, area director for the Concord Area Center of the Community Action Program of Belknap/Merrimack Counties. “It’s a year-round issue.”
The office covers eight towns and includes about 20 food pantries and feeding organizations between the towns.
The Community Action Program is looking for all kinds of donations. Specifically, they’d like healthy, fresh foods like vegetables; anything that pertains to holiday meals such as stuffing mix, pies, rolls or cranberry sauce; soups; pasta; rice; peanut butter; jelly.
“A lot of the food pantries could use cash, because then they can go and get what they need” Chellis said. “They could go and buy meat for their pantries – fresh meat is one thing we obviously don’t get donated.”
They would also take any type of hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
It’s a similar situation at Concord Human Services, which has a food pantry at its 28 Commercial St. office.
They, too, are looking for hygiene items such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, shampoo and toothpaste.
And, of course, they’ll take food, too.
Concord Human Services is open from 11:30 a.m. to noon then 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and donations can be dropped off during those hours – just make sure you call ahead first at 225-8575 to make sure someone will be there ready for you.
The Granite United Way tipped us off to a big list of all of the food pantries in Merrimack County at needhelppayingbills.com. We decided to save you the trouble of trying to find it by just printing the whole list here. For any location that does not have a description, feel free to contact them using the information provided – note that many organizations do not keep traditional “business hours.”
Food pantries in Merrimack County
First Baptist Church
88 W. Main St., Bradford
20 N. State St., Concord
Belknap/Merrimack County Community Action Program
2 Industrial Park Drive, Building 2, Concord
Assistance programs offered on site are extensive. Apply for aid such as LIHEAP or rent, and also food items. Get an extensive listing of local charity organizations and food banks in Merrimack County.
Boscawen Congregational Church
12 High St., Boscawen
Concord Human Services
28 Commercial St., Concord
Towns in Merrimack County, including Concord, can provide qualified individuals with information on and access to emergency assistance, including food and social services.
Wesley United Methodist Church (part of the Emergency Assistance Network)
79 Clinton St., Concord
West Congregational Church
499 N. State St., Concord
First Congregational Church of Concord
177 N. Main St., Concord
Friends Of Forgotten Children
224 Bog Road, Concord
Gospel Light Food Pantry
124 Hall St., Suite L, Concord
Rise Again Outreach
34 Staniels Road, Suite 5, Concord
Toll free (800) 266-5017
Main address is 58 Clinton St., Concord, thrift store is at 227 Sheep Davis Road, Concord
Main office: 225-5586
Thrift store: 228-5555
Runs a variety of social services and assistance programs for the low income. Some may have limited financial assistance for paying expenses such as rent or heating bills. However, most of the aid is non-monetary, and includes items such as food, clothing, meals and shelter.
St. John The Evangelist Parish – St. Vincent De Paul Food Pantry
72 S. Main St., Concord
Runs a food pantry for the low income. Perishable food, canned goods, vegetables and other resources are offered.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
21 Centre St., Concord
Volunteers and others from the church distribute emergency food boxes, Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and other aid. Referrals are also provided.
First Congregational Church
6 Stark Highway North, Dunbarton
Twin Rivers Interfaith Food Pantry
237 Central St., Franklin
Call 934-2662 for hours of food distribution.
Henniker Food Pantry
7 Western Ave., Henniker
Loudon Congregational Church
7018 Church St., Loudon
Loudon Food Pantry
30 Chichester Road, Unit D, Loudon
South Newbury Union Church
162 Village Road , Newbury
Immaculate Conception Church
9 Bonney St., Penacook
United Church of Penacook
21 Merrimack St., Penacook