Cold Taking Toll on Family Pantry and its Clients

HARWICH – The cold, harsh winter weather is taking a toll on those who rely on help from places like the Family Pantry of Cape Cod.

The Harwich organization provides food and clothing to those in need.

Pantry Executive Director Christine Menard said the long string of cold weather increased home heating bills and made it difficult for clients to get to the pantry to pick up food.

Client visits picked up at the pantry when temperatures warmed up last week.

“We really saw a surge of people coming here just to try to recoup what they have lost over the last couple of weeks between closings, bad weather and cars not starting,” Menard said. “It’s very hard.”

Menard said the cold took a greater toll on the seniors who are served at the pantry.

“Some of our seniors can’t get out so it is a double hit,” she said. “One, they can’t afford the heat and secondly, they can’t get out because of the weather – slip and fall, and ice and snow. It just compounds their difficulties.”

The pantry is open three days per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

“Unfortunately, when the weather is bad and the schools close we close and we lost a day [a few weeks ago] because of the weather,” Menard said.

Menard said if clients can get to the pantry they can help them.

The pantry has also seen a decline in food donations during the cold stretch.

“The folks that are donating – are they going to come out and make a run to drop off clothing or food when they are calling for a minus 20 windchill?” Menard said.

Menard said the pantry doesn’t recoup what they lose when it comes to donations.

“If you don’t bring a box of cereal on Tuesday, you’re not going to think about bringing it in on Thursday,” she said. “It’s kind of a loss once they don’t come.”

Donations of food, clothing and money can be made at the organization’s Queen Anne Road facility.

The pantry also provides help to clients to apply for home heating assistance.

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