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Around the District: Visiting Hebron Food Pantry

Last week, the Bielat for Congress campaign visited the Hebron Food Pantry in Attleboro. The campaign is also collecting non-perishable food items for the nonprofit through Sept. 30.

As a businessman, I enjoy learning about creative ways that the private sector is working to meet the needs of the community. Not-for-profit organizations often find innovative ways to meet existing needs without the creation of massive government programs. Last week, I was honored to take a tour of the Hebron Food Pantry in Attleboro, a good example of one of these innovative nonprofits.

Operating out of Centenary United Methodist Church, the Hebron Food Pantry is the only nonprofit in Massachusetts that assists low income or "working poor" with access to healthy and nutritious food. All other food pantries or food banks require that the participant qualify for food stamps or other government programs.

We met with Rev. Lehlohonolo Montjane from Centenary UMC and Michelle Burch, the director of Hebron Food Pantry, for a tour and a discussion about the struggles and challenges that the organization faces in serving this community.

Like almost everyone that I meet with, the clients of Hebron Food Pantry are struggling in this economy. These are the people who fall through the cracks of our social welfare net. They work and make too much to qualify for food assistance programs such as SNAP (formerly food stamps), but they still can’t make ends meet. Many of them are seniors or parents.  Since the economic downturn in 2009, the Pantry has seen a 30% increase in demand without an increase in resources to supply those needs.

Unlike many food pantries, visitors to Hebron can do their own shopping and food selection. The food pantry is set up like a grocery store, and shoppers can select non-perishable foods such as canned vegetables, rice, beans, pasta and canned meat. Hebron also works with local grocery stores and vendors to provide a free selection of fresh meat, baked bread and produce.

“I try to get food that is healthy and nutritious,” said Burch. “By picking their own box, visitors can maintain their dignity and self-respect.”

Each week, Hebron distributes between 8,000-10,000 pounds of food to the community. Through partnerships with the Greater Boston Food Bank, the pantry can purchase about $100 worth of food for only $5.

Like any entrepreneur or start-up, nonprofits like the Hebron Food Pantry see a need in the community and seek to fill it. I hope that others in the area will join me in supporting the work that the Pantry does in the Attleboro community

Through September 30, we will be collecting food at Bielat for Congress offices in Foxboro and Newton. Please stop by with a donation of a non-perishable food item. Whether you are stopping by the Foxboro office to pick up a yard sign or the Newton location to phone bank, please help the campaign give back to the Attleboro community and fill a need that our government entitlement programs are failing.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kurt Buermann September 24, 2012 at 03:41 AM
deb see, Whatever we say, even if it is to order a a pizza, the utterance come from the same source as the "Holy Ghost" as Christians call it. What I am saying is that no religion or philosophy has a monopoly on ultimate truth. No one belief system is more valid than another. This certainly does not prevent us from believing in whatever we believe in or limit our path tos pirituality.
Emcee of Seekonk September 24, 2012 at 11:37 AM
"... no religion or philosophy has a monopoly on ultimate truth." True "No one belief system is more valid than another." Very True "This certainly does not prevent us from believing in whatever we believe in or limit our path to spirituality." Very, Very True And that is our theology lesson for the day, although I don't know what it has to do with Sean Bielat visiting the Hebron Food Pantry which happens to be located in the Centenary United Methodist Church. It would seem to me that the peoples of the world spend an awful lot of time and bloodshed trying to convince and convert other folks into believing as they believe whether it be a religious philosophy or a political ideology. The truth is I can never convince you to think as a Republican, nor can you convince me to think as a Democrat, so why do we keep trying?
Kurt Buermann September 24, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Emcee, You touch on the nub of the matter: "The truth is I can never convince you to think as a Republican, nor can you convince me to think as a Democrat, so why do we keep trying?" The value might be not in convincing each other of our political beliefs, but rather in the argumnents back-and-forth in itself. Imagine if the democrats held absolute sway. Or if Republicans ruled unfettered. It would be as if we were in a runaway car on a mountain road. This one would say step on the brakes hard as you can.(The brakes would burn out.)The other would say don't use the brakes at all.( We'd be certain to run off the cliff.) Our lives depend on a compromise with something in between.
Emcee of Seekonk September 24, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Compromise is one thing, but what goes on in campaigns and even on this blog is two sides digging in for a good fight. Everyone gets bloodied and at the end of the day, nothing changes. The working poor are still queued up at the Hebron Food Pantry. Eventually, someone gets elected by a small majority of the popular vote, and the others resent him/her and start arming themselves for the next fight. After all, the spoils include incredible wealth, the manipulation of it, the power of it, the accumulation of it, etc. And the working poor are still queued up at the Hebron Food Pantry. I understand your theory and it makes good sense. Putting it into practice is a bit difficult.
Gretchen Robinson September 24, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Emcee, glad to know you are non-violent. I wasn't so sure about some who posted in the past.... note that most of the wealthy are Republicans.... and people like Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett have given away a significant part of their wealth for the betterment of human-kind. And none of those three is a theist (none thinks there is a god).

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