In conversation with Cherylann Lambert Walsh about the Hopkinton Food Pantry
What is the connection between Project Just Because and the Hopkinton Food Pantry?
Twenty-two years ago, I founded Project Just Because, Inc. in my basement to help people in need. Often when people came in to collect school supplies, clothes and toiletries, they also mentioned needing food. We began putting together 'Baskets of Love' filling them with food from my own pantry. A few years later, the Hopkinton Food Pantry asked if I would take over the running of the pantry. Since then we have run the Project Just Because Hopkinton Food Pantry, which is currently at 109, South Street, Hopkinton, MA.
What are the challenges you face while trying to get donations for the pantry?
Oh, the challenges keep changing and we try to overcome them one at a time. Just today, we did not receive on our order form the ability to order eggs, milk or chicken from the Greater Boston Food Bank as there is a high demand. So, we have to find it elsewhere. My challenge is that a mother is going to come in and I will have no milk and eggs to give her and perhaps I won't be able to provide these for two weeks as I don't have another source. According to CDC guidelines during the COVID19 pandemic, we are not able to currently take in personal food donations. Donations can be made thru PayPal or Amazon Wishlists (you can purchase items and ship them directly to Project Just Because - Shipping is free). Check the website www.projectjustbecause.org for Project Just Because Food Pantry for the list of required items.
Why did you start the Gluten Free pantry? How is it making a difference?
The Gluten-Free Food Bank NCA provides us with some gluten-free food supplies. This has been great as many families struggle with members who have gluten dietary restrictions. We are only one of 13 pantries in the state who are able to meet their needs. Residents from any part of the state can walk in to receive gluten-free food.
If you had a magic wand, how would you use it to eradicate hunger in your community?
There is just such an awful number of people in need. People who have never been to the pantry before are walking in and they are finding it difficult to ask for help. They have barely enough money to pay their mortgage and no money left over for food. People in our society should not go hungry. I see good people fall through the cracks all the time. If I had a magic wand, I would just create a huge grocery store where there would be an honor system - people in need could walk in and pick up toiletries, food, cleaning supplies, food for their pets and not be ashamed or shy to take the help.