DANVERS — The state has granted the Danvers Community Council $20,000 to bolster its People to People Food Pantry, an all-volunteer organization whose resources have been strained in recent years by an influx of homeless families sheltered by the state in the town’s budget motels.
At last count, 180 families were housed in Danvers motel rooms, said Town Manager Wayne Marquis. That’s up from June, when there were 104. These families are caring for approximately 300 children.
Marquis thanked Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, for securing the state grant.
Lovely said she met with state agencies last year and had another meeting last week on the issue of homeless families living in hotels.
“As the state is trying to solve this situation, communities like Danvers are trying to provide services to these new residents, and one of these (services) is the food pantries,” Lovely said.
“Every penny counts. They are all volunteers,” she said of the pantry workers, “and Wayne tells me they are senior volunteers, and they use all their own vehicles and gas.”
The pantry, which is nearing its 20th year, is run from the town’s former senior center at 12 Sylvan St., next to Holy Trinity Methodist Church. Volunteers stock shelves, collect donations, interview clients, and deliver or distribute food and other necessities.
The work at the food pantry can be tiring and frustrating at times, Marquis said. It’s also relentless.
“This will be a shot in the arm for everyone,” he said.
The money will go toward food, especially fresh produce, and diapers. There is a large number of babies and toddlers living in the motels.
Typically, the pantry serves from 50 to 70 permanent families in Danvers, Marquis said, but the motel families have “more than doubled” the caseload. The food pantry also provided all the food to a Project Sunshine summer program for homeless kids run by the Recreation Department.