By John Anderson

The Food Pantry at Auburn Youth and Family Services has a lot of empty shelves on Wednesday after 28 families came in for food the night before. ©John R. Anderson

The Food Pantry at Auburn Youth and Family Services has a lot of empty shelves on Wednesday after 28 families came in for food the night before. ©John R. Anderson

On Tuesday, the food pantry at Auburn Youth and Family Services looked well stocked. Volunteers from Masterman’s, however, had just delivered a truckload from the Worcester County Food Bank as they do regularly throughout the year. By Wednesday, the pantry had a lot of holes on the shelves after 28 families visited to replenish the holes in their own pantries. A handful of walk-ins got emergency food supplies over the last few days as well.

Auburn Youth and Family Services (AYFS) is one of about 120 partner agencies that serve the people of Worcester County and strive to eliminate hunger for its nearly 800,000 residents in 60 cities and towns. Without its partners, the Worcester County Food Bank would face an impossible distribution challenge.

According to the Food Bank’s web site, 10.3% of the residents of Worcester County (or about 82,951 people) live at or below the poverty level. Furthermore, 12% of the county population (99,796 people) received food from the Bank and its partner agencies in 2012.

Locally, AYFS is a critical resource for those in need of nutritional assistance, and they try very hard to keep enough food on hand to meet the need. During most of the year, the pantry is open one day a week during the day. At those times, 35-50 families come in for some groceries that are quantity limited so everyone can get some.

During the summer, camps for children take over the building at 21 Pheasant Court, so the pantry opens every other Tuesday night to help out. AYFS Executive Director Sally D’Arcangelo told Auburn Mass Daily that while a lot is publicized about hunger during the holidays, the need for donations is ever-present. And, during the holidays, the need in Auburn can soar to as many as 200 families.

Residents are always invited to drop off non-perishable goods at AYFS, and monetary donations are also appreciated. The Worcester County Food Bank through its agreements with food manufacturers and distributors can deliver $5.00 worth of food for every $1.00 donated. That has to be one of the best returns on charitable donations out there.

AYFS has an excellent reputation for spending donations wisely, and the Food Pantry is just one of many ways they assist Auburn children and families. Questions about donations or assistance can be directed to AYFS at 508-832-5707.  You can also donate or learn more about AYFS on their website,www.ayfs.org

Let’s keep the pantry well stocked!