Westport Food Pantry sees uptick and demand as inflation rises

Fund-raiser planned for early October

By Ted Hayes
Posted 9/28/22

Volunteers at the Westport Food Pantry are seeing greater need for their services as rising inflation impacts the price of food, and they are predicting a particularly busy holiday season.

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Westport Food Pantry sees uptick and demand as inflation rises

Fund-raiser planned for early October

Posted

Volunteers at the Westport Food Pantry are seeing greater need for their services as rising inflation impacts the price of food, and they are predicting a particularly busy holiday season.

The number of people picking up food every Monday at its 931 Main Road headquarters "can fluctuate from 120 to 150 bags a week," board member and former director Dana Stewart, the town's recreation director, said. "Lately we've been seeing it move toward 150. We're expecting it to increase."

Inflation has had a double-whammy effect, impacting the center from both angles: Via food-insecure residents who now have a greater need for its services, and on the supply side, where rising costs may have dissuaded some from donating at previous levels. Though the impact hasn't been huge so far, Stewart said, "we're seeing it."

The food pantry was borne out of the pandemic, created by the town as a way to help residents impacted financially and otherwise by COVID-19. As it grew more popular and the need for its services more evident, the pantry last year obtained non-profit status and has since fully separated itself from town administration. Stewart, who was in charge of the program when it started, stepped aside from her leadership role and earlier this year the pantry hired its first director, Crystal Ferry Medeiros. She now oversees a large staff of volunteers, with a board helping to oversee the center's functioning.

"In terms of the cost and donations, that is something that we are following" and discuss at monthly board meetings," Stewart said.

To help raise funds, the pantry will host a concert Saturday, Oct. 8, at the town hall annex at 856 Main St. AC/DC tribute band Who Made Who will play from 3 to 6 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person or $15 per family, and you can pay at the gate or buy them at www.westportrec.com. There will be food trucks, vendors and other surprises.

Also, Stewart said residents in need of good clothing are welcome to come to the pantry Saturday, Oct. 3, from 9 to 11 a.m. "Walt's Mobile Closet" will be onsite with free clothing, shoes and hygienic products for kids and adults. It's all free.

2022 by East Bay Media Group

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.