SALEM — Eight years ago, when Phylis Marchulaitis began volunteering at the Food for the Hungry Pantry in Salem, it was a rare week when more than 30 people passed through the door.
These days, sometimes up to 70 folks show up at the weekly Tuesday food pantry, held on the premises of the Pleasant Street United Methodist Church.
“We see the whole spectrum,” Marchulaitis said on Friday. “Single parents, professionals who’ve gotten laid off and are now struggling to make ends meet and a lot of elderly people who can’t afford groceries after paying for rent, taxes and prescriptions.”
With summer vacation season — perhaps the busiest time for area food pantries — right around the corner, staff from four organizations are hoping to raise money and awareness at a community-wide event later this month.
“Once school lets out for the year, there are so many children that aren’t getting their free breakfasts and lunches at school anymore,” Marchulaitis noted. “They’re home for the summer, and they’re hungry.”
A collaboration with the Salem Lions Club, the Walk For Hunger will take place at the church, 8 Pleasant St., on May 31 from noon to 2 p.m.
Designed to be family-friendly, the walk course is just about one mile, with participants gathering at the church after for an afternoon of refreshments and fellowship.
Sponsor sheets may be printed out online www.salemnhlions.org. Folks can also bring donations of nonperishable food items, as well as personal hygiene products, the day of the walk.
Event organizers are hoping to raise up to $8,000 for local food pantries, including the Bread of Life Food Pantry, St. Joseph’s Parish Pantry and the Rockingham Christian Church Food Pantry.
Staff at the Bread of Life Pantry, located at Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church, said their Monday morning pantry typically assists between 40-50 families each week and it’s a constant struggle to keep up supplies of basic items like canned vegetables and crackers.
Those who’d like to help the food pantries but are unable to attend the upcoming Walk may send donations in the form of a check to: Walk For Hunger, c/o Salem Lions Club, P.O. Box 294, Salem, NH 03079.