GROTON — Remember the holiday spirit? Hard to believe that it was only a month or two ago: the eggnog was flowing freely, decorations sparkled in every corner, and we were all rushing off from one event to another. Many of us, in the spirit of the season, took a moment to think of those outside our own circle and to make donations — large or small — to charitable organizations that help those in need.
Food pantries such as Loaves & Fishes in Devens, for example, can expect a surge in donations almost double what they receive the rest of the year. But what happens to those needy families after the holidays? And how do we rekindle the warmth we feel from sharing with them, as winter trudges relentlessly into February?
The Groton Neighborhood Food Project (GNFP) is an organization that does just that. Instead of coordinating a single food drive, the group regularly collects food donations, every other month; this helps to ease the ebb and flow of donations that food pantries experience throughout the year, and gives donors an easy way to remember our neighbors in need along the way. Donor groups are organized by neighborhoods, either based on geography or a common meeting point such as a church or fitness club. A neighborhood coordinator gives each donor a green shopping bag to fill with donations, which are picked up routinely on a Saturday morning once every two months, and delivered to Loaves & Fishes.
Now in its second year, GNFP has 24 neighborhoods representing roughly 250 donor households from all over Groton. Last December, GNFP donated a total of 2,613 pounds of food — and rather than being a “holiday spike,” this number is expected to continue to rise as the year progresses.
The next donation pickup in February will be followed by regular pickups in April, June, and the rest of the year. The summer donations will be especially important, as food pantries usually experience a decrease in donations over the months that typical donors are away on vacation or otherwise distracted — while at the same time the need for donated food increases, due to the summer hiatus of the school lunch programs. This system of regular food donation delivery adopted by Groton Neighborhood Food Project means that our local food pantry will have a reliable source of donations at all times, while donors have a convenient way to act on their generous impulses even among competing demands. The system is simple but the impact is great.
To learn more or to participate in Groton Neighborhood Food Project (GNFP), visit grotonfoodproject.com.