HOLYOKE – The Providence Ministries for the Needy Inc. is extending the hours at one of their charities to help better accommodate working families. Margaret’s Pantry
added three more hours onto their Monday schedule and are now open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“What we’re finding is that there’s a lot of working poor who can’t get to us during our normal hours,” Providence Ministries Executive Director Karen Blanchard said.
The hour change will potentially increase the traffic at the pantry and Blanchard knows they will need more donations to compensate.
“Absolutely, we’re anticipating seeing more people. It’s hard to tell [how many]. We haven’t gotten the word out yet. I have a feeling it will start up slow and build once the word gets out,” Blanchard said. “We’re looking for the basics, foods that go a long way. The pastas, peanut butter, meals in cans, flip tops. Anything that you would have in your own cabinet,” she added.
Margaret’s Pantry Manager Brenda LaMagdeleine said that donations are a pressing concern.
“We need everything,” LaMagdeleine said. “It’s been pretty tough lately. Meals in a can, soups, [and] canned meat are always crucial.
“We’ve been in the industry for 30 years and still there are people who don’t know what we do or what we provide,” LaMagdeleine continued.
The change came about after information from the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts helped identify an area of care that could be improved.
“We constantly have workshops and training here for our member agencies,” Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Marketing and Communications Director Chris Wojcik said. “We may present them with information we collect, where there might be gaps in services or needs.
“Different agencies, that are our member agencies, provide us with information. Statistics on how many people come, how many are served, all those types of vital statistics. We look at those to identify areas of greatest need, areas sufficiently served, and areas underserved,” Wojcik continued.
Providence Ministries took the initiative to implement change.
“We’re thrilled the agencies are looking at different ways of viewing problems we identify. It’s great to see different steps taken by the agencies,” Wojcik said.
He also added that they try to host the workshops for agencies at least once a month, organized by county and there’s one to two times a year where all the counties meet together.
Blanchard said the decision to change the schedule now came at a good time.
“July 1 is a new fiscal year for everybody so we felt that it would be a good time for everybody to implement this,” she explained.
Those interested in donating food or clothing to Margaret’s Pantry can bring in items Monday through Thursday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. or contact LaMagdeleine at 538-8026.