More than 40 years ago, a group of teachers joined together to provide food items to local families struggling during the holidays in Doylestown, a small village in Wayne County.
Functioning for many years on an as-needed basis, the hunger-relief program housed in the local Methodist church was approached by two eager Boy Scouts in 2014. They had a vision for their senior Eagle Scout project to help the pantry move into a larger space they could call their own.
Now, the Doylestown Community Food Cupboard offers groceries to families on a regular basis. A five-day supply ensures individuals and families managing on a tight budget have the help they need to get through the end of the month.
“The families we serve are trying to provide three meals a day, and I think a lot of them aren’t able to do that,” said Maureen Martin, the director of the pantry. “Some are making unhealthy food choices to stretch their dollar even further. We’re glad to be able to help.”
Martin and her volunteers typically see grandparents taking care of grandchildren and senior citizens coming through the pantry in need of help. Nearly half of the people served through the Foodbank’s network of hunger-relief partners are children under the age of 18 and senior citizens.
The Food Cupboard is a choice pantry, meaning people can take food items they know they’ll use and eat. In addition to offering groceries, the program also offers monthly senior food boxes and a weekly backpack program to the three public schools and the parochial school in Doylestown. On average, volunteers help pack 165 bags each week for the backpack program.
“Until you’re involved in this work, you don’t realize the need in this community, especially the kids. The kids are the ones suffering.”
The Food Cupboard sends notices and schedules home with children through the school system to help create awareness about its food programs, but Martin notices that some parents are reluctant to ask for help. Understandably, it can be difficult to seek help with a stigma surrounding people in need.
The issue of hunger is near and dear to Martin’s heart. Though she’s worked at the local church for 20 years and has managed the Food Cupboard for the last 12, acknowledging difficult times came at an early age for her. “It’s been a part of me for so long now. I remember growing up with five siblings and you knew mom and dad were struggling. This is my passion.”
Because of the Food Cupboard’s relationship with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, the program can provide even more nourishing food to its community members. “We’re able to provide fresh products and more healthy and nutritional selections. Because of our partnership, we’re able to offer an incredible benefit to our clients.”