Danvers' food pantry just got a $20,000 boost thanks to a state grant. The added funding will help alleviate the strain on the pantry from a significant uptick in homeless families in recent years, according to town officials.
The People-to-People Food Pantry, which is operated solely by volunteers, is located on Sylvan Street across from Town Hall and managed by the Danvers Community Council. In addition to 50-70 regular clients, the pantry provides food to homeless families sheltered in Danvers motels.
As of last report in December, there were 182 homeless families in motels, said Town Manager Wayne Marquis. In June, however, that number was only 104. The housing program is run by the state and involves contracts with budget motels.
Marquis also told selectmen last month there are 303 children within those families, 149 of which are school-aged and which the town is responsible for educating or busing to other districts.
He said he asked state officials at a recent regional meeting of municipal officials if they had insight as to why the number of homeless families was increasing while the economy is improving, but they couldn't explain why.
Gov. Deval Patrick had also pledged to end the housing program by this coming June, but there is a good deal of skepticism on whether that will actually happen. Marquis himself said he feels that's "unlikely."
In related news,
the Salem News reports state Sen. Joan Lovely and state Rep. Ted Speliotis are actively working on legislation to make significant changes to the program to at least reduce burden it places on Danvers and other communities.