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Capital Region Food Program distributes 3 tons of food to 19 groups

Last modified: 8/16/2013 9:58:02 AM
A peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk after a summer’s day of playing outside. It sounds simple, but for a lot of children in Greater Concord, that peanut butter will arrive courtesy of a long chain of helping hands.

The Capital Region Food Program – a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce hunger in the area through year-round distribution of food – delivered 3 tons of food yesterday to 19 area pantries, social service agencies and church groups.

Since 1974, the program has used donated funds to purchase discounted food from Associated Grocers of New England that is then distributed to 15 to 20 organizations monthly. Summer is a time when need especially spikes and donations drop, said Jill Teeters, the program’s public relations chairwoman.

“So many kids rely on free and reduced-price lunch and breakfast, so a lot of the agencies work in the summer with families who typically get one or two meals per day at schools,” Teeters said. “While most of us are just worried about child care for the summer, a lot of families are worried about how they’re going to feed their kids, and we just want to make people more aware of that.”

The food program, unlike the New Hampshire Food Bank, hasn’t been affected by grocery stores’ recent efforts to reduce waste and costs by having smaller inventories and therefore less out-of-code inventory to sell.

“Because of our unique situation with Associated Grocers, we’re ordering food as we need it, so we’re not experiencing that same challenge,” Teeters said.

However, increasing food prices have

affected even the discounted rate the food program receives.

“We’re able to stretch those dollars, but we’re not able to stretch them as far,” she said. “Every bit of a dollar donated goes to buy peanut butter and tuna fish and other food, but it’s buying less peanut butter than it did a few years ago.”

The 20 cases of food the program provides monthly are a small part of the Loudon Food Pantry’s distribution, “but every little bit helps,” said President Susan Houck.

The pantry serves families in Belmont, Canterbury, Chichester, Epsom and Loudon.

“Donations are always down this time of year, and they help supply things like cereal, peanut butter – things we’re having a hard time getting a hold of, but things that are really easy for families to put together quick meals for the kids that are home for the summer,” Houck said.

This summer, unseasonable weather has made it especially tough to meet the seasonable increase in demand, said Janet Perusse, coordinator of the food pantry at Immaculate Conception Parish in Penacook.

Gardeners in the region often bring extra produce to the pantry, and some even grow extra food specifically to donate it, she said. But the excessive rains earlier this summer and July’s extreme heat have ruined many tomato and cucumber plants that otherwise would have stocked the pantry, she said.

Other organizations that received food yesterday to distribute included: Boscawen Congregational Church, CenterPoint Food Pantry, Concord Human Services, First Congregational Church, Friends of Forgotten Children, Gospel Light Church of God, McKenna House, Merrimack Valley Day Care, Pittsfield Food Pantry, Salvation Army, St. John’s Church – St. Vincent DePaul Society, St. Paul’s Food Pantry, St. Peter’s Church – St. Vincent DePaul Society, Suncook CAP, The Friendly Kitchen, town of Boscawen and United Church of Penacook.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)


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