By Katina Caraganis
ASHBY -- In the month leading up to the year-end holidays, the Board of Selectmen approved a request by a group of residents to operate a food pantry out of Town Hall, pending approval from the Board of Health and the stipulation that they find a location in the building to house the food that will not disrupt daily business.
Tricia Foster, one of the residents on hand, said there is a strong need in the community for a food pantry, and there have been ones in the past.
Annually, the Girl and Boy Scouts in town do a food drive called Scouting for Food during which they ask residents to leave canned goods on their front steps to be picked up.
All the food collected goes into Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for families in town.
In past years, she said, there have been two minivans full of food that was extra in town and was brought to other communities.
She said it was their hope to partner with the Scouts to use that food in the pantry to help families at other times of the year.
Currently, she said, 22 families receive baskets on each holiday from that drive.
The group felt Town Hall was the best option for it, she said, because there are so many other things going on there and there wouldn't be the stigmatism for people who may feel ashamed to go there to get food.
"We're going into a season that is tough for a lot of people," she said, while noting that home heating-oil bills will be coming in soon as well as the new high-school building project.
Ideally, they would store food in locked cabinets that only they would have access to. One day a week they would collect food, and another day they would distribute food to those in need.
Selectman Janet Flinkstrom said she was in support of the project because of the need in town.
"I think there is a great need here and it's not getting better," she said.
Follow Katina Caraganis on Tout and Twitter @kcaraganis.