CAS members continue to be wonderfully generous in support of the People's Pantry in Great Barrington, which serves the southern Berkshire community. When I first started volunteering, we would average about 20-25 shoppers; since the recession in 2008 it is more like 50-60. Many of the people who come are elderly, or ill, and unable to work. Others work seasonally and need help during their off season. The Pantry helps anyone, without any means testing, with the belief that we are, indeed, each other's keeper.
Donations of food and money are welcome, and we are especially grateful for those who volunteer their time on a Thursday morning to set up, stock shelves, help shoppers, and tidy the place for the following week. We are one of seven groups that trade off staffing the pantry, and if you would like to be part of the team, please contact Walter Orenstein at email@example.com.
Being each others' keeper entails just a little more, though. Have you ever had food poisoning? I have, and I can tell you it isn't pleasant. When you donate food, please check the date, and donate only unopened, packaged or canned food that is still in date. This week I picked up a very generous load of food at CAS, but many of the items were anywhere from 3-5 years out of date, and some had been opened and partially used. Imagine if one of our community members took that home and served it to a child or someone who is already ill. And while you're imagining that, imagine that a volunteer has to throw out that food, carrying it first from CAS to the Pantry, or home, then to a dumpster or out with our own trash. Lots of old cans get heavy fast.
So thank you for your continued support of the Pantry, and thank you for making sure that you are considering everyone's safety when you donate.