Summer’s The Time For ‘Helping Neighbors’ - Chronicle Launches Annual Campaign For The Family Pantry Of Cape Cod

by Alan Pollock

For visitors to the Cape, hunger generally means time for a clam roll, burgers on the grill or a fine dinner out. But for families who struggle to live and work here, hunger can mean not knowing where their next meal will come from, day after day.

The Family Pantry of Cape Cod helps by providing nutritious groceries to people struggling to make ends meet, and each summer, Cape Cod Chronicle readers give generously to help the Pantry carry out its mission.

Our Summertime Helping Neighbors campaign begins today, when we’ll begin running weekly stories about the Family Pantry, the people it helps and the volunteers who make it happen. The fund drive will continue through Labor Day, by which time we hope to have raised $90,000 together. Each week, we’ll also publish a list of donors and a running tally of our progress.

“This will be the eighth summer we’ve done Helping Neighbors, and generous summer readers have contributed just under $600,000 during that time,” Chronicle Publisher Henry C. Hyora said. “It makes us proud that our readers — even ones who are just here for summer vacation — dig deep to help put food on the table for local residents and workers,” he said. While the summertime campaign began in 2017, our annual holiday fundraiser for the Pantry has been a tradition since 2004. All told, Cape Cod Chronicle readers have given more than $1.8 million to the Family Pantry over those years.

“The summer people here, they take full advantage of beautiful Cape Cod. But there’s a whole lot of people that support that wonderful experience, and those are the people that we support,” Family Pantry Executive Director Christine Menard said. From hotel and restaurant staff to medical personnel, landscapers and retailers, lots of people rely on the Pantry to help take one bill off the table each month, maybe allowing them to pay the high cost of housing or transportation. “The reason that we started the summer campaign is to give the summer folks that are here the opportunity to support the Cape on a year-round basis,” she said.

“This year we have a $45,000 match that has come in partly from the Karen Campbell family in Chatham, and then there’s a bunch of other people that have given anonymously. So for every dollar that is donated to The Chronicle, you’re going to have a dollar-for-dollar match up to $45,000,” Menard said. Hence the $90,000 goal, which will be the most ambitious Summertime Helping Neighbors target yet.

The Family Pantry invites clients to pick up groceries at their headquarters in Harwich, filling out a shopping list to ensure that their family will use and enjoy the items they receive. The Pantry also provides high-quality meats and proteins, dairy and baked goods and fresh produce — some from its own garden. There’s even a boutique where they can pick up free items of clothing for their families. For seniors and others who can’t make it to the Pantry, there’s Healthy Meals in Motion, a mobile pantry that delivers to area senior centers each week. There’s even a miniature pantry branch at Cape Cod Community College.

Thanks to the power of bulk buying through the Greater Boston Food Bank, every donated dollar to the Family Pantry can purchase four nutritious meals. And the Pantry is an excellent steward of those donated dollars, earning top ratings from Charity Navigator, Guidestar and Service Enterprise.

In next week’s edition, learn more about the clients of the Family Pantry. Spoiler alert: they’re from almost every level of society and every age, and most are working more than one job.

To contribute to The Chronicle's Helping Neighbors campaign, click here: You can also mail a tax-deductible contribution to The Family Pantry, 133 Queen Anne Rd., Harwich, MA 02645, or call 508-432-6519 to donate by credit card.