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2,000 Items in 2 Weeks: League Launches Food Drive for CHC Food Pantries

12-14-11 Feature Story:

A continuing high unemployment rate and slow economic recovery have increased the ranks of the poor in the U.S. for the third straight year. According to the most recent national census data, 46.2 million Americans live in poverty, representing the largest number since record-keeping began 52 years ago. Between 2009 and 2010, the poverty rate for children under age 18 increased from 20.7 percent to 22.0 percent and for people aged 18 to 64, from 12.9 percent to 13.7 percent. In Massachusetts, the number of people living in poverty approaches 10.6 percent. A recent study by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), a national organization dedicated to eradicating domestic hunger and under-nutrition, documents that 20 percent of Massachusetts' households with children report food insecurity.

Many of the families disproportionately impacted by hunger live in communities served by the state's community health centers. As a result, health centers work closely with local food pantries in referring patients and in helping to staff these largely volunteer-based organizations. Even more telling, however, is the developing trend of health center-based pantries which at last count, totaled nine. Demand at these nine sites has been steadily increasing as outlined in a recent story about the South Boston Community Health Center food pantry which ran in the League's November Workforce Resource newsletter. Health center-operated food pantries are located within Codman Square Health Center, Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, Family Health Center of Worcester's South High School site, Fitchburg Community Health Center, Greater Gardner Community Health Center, HealthFirst Family Care Center in Fall River, Neponset Health Center in Dorchester, South Boston Community Health Center and Whittier Street Health Center in Roxbury.

In response to the growing need, the League has launched an ambitious December food drive with the goal of collecting and delivering the equivalent of 2,000 food items to health center-based pantries ahead of the holidays. Efforts include a League staff competition, some financial help in purchasing supermarket gift cards from the League's Emergency Relief Fund and from outside partners, including Neighborhood Health Plan, and items brought by guests to the League's Holiday Reception on Thursday, December 15. The hope is to expand this initiative in subsequent years to assist a larger number of communities in need.

If you'd like to help, please drop off non-perishable food items at the League Offices at 40 Court Street, Boston or make a donation by clicking on the Donate Now button below. Many thanks for any assistance you can provide.

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