Local pantries applaud elimination of fee

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/7/2021 5:36:01 PM

The New Hampshire Food Bank announced late in May that they would eliminate shared maintenance fees for the state’s food pantries, soup kitchens, and other partner agencies. Local food pantries were excited by this change, and expect it to make a difference in the future.

“What they’re doing is huge, that’s the biggest change they could make, really,” said Maureen Cullinan, co-chair of the Faith Food Pantry in Temple. “It’s huge – every dollar you save, you can buy more food.”

The fee in question was a per-pound fee charged to the NH Food Bank’s partner agencies to cover the cost of warehousing and distributing food. The national maximum for the fee, set by Feeding America, is 19 cents and the Food Bank was most recently charging nine cents per pound. According to the Food Bank, this approximated to $500 per month on average.

Cullinan said that at the Faith Food Pantry, every dollar is important. While she isn’t sure of the exact impact the lack of maintenance fee will have, she knows it will help.

“I think it’s going to be huge,” she said. “We’re all delighted to see that.”

According to Richard Redding, treasurer of the Peterborough Food Pantry, there’s a similar story there. Recently, the Peterborough Food Pantry hasn’t been utilizing the Food Bank as much as other avenues of providing food, but he said that the elimination of the maintenance fee will help.

“It won’t, in the short-term, impact us, but in the long-term, it’s great,” Redding said. This is because a lot of the Peterborough pantry’s needs have been filled through community generosity and donations.

“We saw a pretty strong surge in donations last year, and we’re starting to see them go back to normal,” Redding said. When that happens, the lack of maintenance fee will help them save money.

“We think it’s great,” Redding said. “It’ll allow us and all other pantries to stretch our budgets and provide more food to more people, or more food to the people that we have. So that’s fantastic.”

This is true, according to both Redding and Cullinan, because of how limited food pantry budgets tend to be.

“Like every food pantry, we have to count our pennies,” Cullinan said.

Redding said that at the Peterborough food pantry, they watch every penny and stretch every dollar.

The maintenance fee’s elimination was due to donors, according to the New Hampshire Food Bank Executive Director, Eileen Liponis.

“We have been working toward this goal for years and we are extremely pleased to see it come to fruition,” Liponis also said. “Particularly as families and individuals have felt the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, it is our hope removing shared maintenance fees will allow organizations to enhance operations, better serve those in need in our communities, and ultimately help us all move closer toward our goal of eliminating hunger in New Hampshire.”

With demand increasing over the past two years – the New Hampshire Food Bank distributed more than 17 million pounds of food during 2020 and expects to distribute more this year – the New Hampshire Food Bank is encouraging further donations to help meet their goals.

These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.

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