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December 16. 2012 8:37PM

Lakes Region food pantry to open today in Moultonborough

MOULTONBOROUGH - The brand new Lakes Region Food Pantry opens its doors at 9 a.m. today.

The pantry is located in a rented space at 61 Whittier Highway in Moultonborough next door to Galaxy Gym. Food storage currently occupies the downstairs 900-square-feet, with plans in the future for a thrift shop on the second floor.

The food pantry will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays and from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays.

Executive Director Amy Norton, who for several years ran a pantry in Center Harbor, said she has seen the need for food and provisions grow exponentially.

"When I started at Center Harbor, we served 100 to 150 families a month. But by last spring, we were up to serving 346 families a month. Those families came once a week - and that was just families from Center Harbor," she said on Sunday.

Board member Mike Lancor said the idea of starting a new food pantry in Moultonborough came about after the anticipated closure of a nearby food pantry in Center Harbor.

"We understand the number of needy families in the Lakes Region is on the rise," he said.

Lancor said the Moultonborough Central School held a food drive on Friday and donated more than 400 items. The Lakes Region branch of the National Federation of the Blind collected food at its annual meeting, said Lancor, and local markets are also promoting and collecting donations from within the store.

The new pantry will serve any family or individual in need living anywhere in the Lakes Region area. Visitors will be welcomed to access the food pantry for non-perishable canned and boxed foods, household items and frozen foods.

Norton said the community has been "unbelievably generous."

She said so far between $6,000 and $7,000 has been invested into the Lakes Region Food Pantry for space, shelving, freezers, supplies, food and household items such as laundry soap, diapers, paper products and toothpaste.

The application to become a certified 501-c3 nonprofit cost $850 alone, she said, adding the application will take about eight weeks to process. Until then, the pantry is ineligible to obtain food from the New Hampshire Food Bank. Future plans include using the second story as a thrift store with proceeds going to help cover the pantry's operating costs.

Norton encourages donations of the type of nutritious food an average family enjoys - canned goods, peanut butter, jelly, pasta and sauces, macaroni and cheese and baby food as well as toiletries and household supplies.

Participants will be asked to fill out a client intake form and show a form of ID, but do not need to provide income verification.

Individuals or groups interested in donating food and household items to Lakes Region Food Pantry should contact Norton by calling 603-986-0357. Items can be dropped off at the food pantry anytime during open hours or at other times as arranged.

Any organization interested in conducting a food drive for Lakes Region Food Pantry should call Norton.

Many volunteers are needed in order for Lakes Region Food Pantry to successfully keep its shelves full and to assure that at least two individuals are working the food pantry whenever it is open to the public.

There is also a need for additional quality metal shelving and newer, efficient freezers.

Anyone interested in making a monetary donation to support the food pantry can write a check payable to Lakes Region Food Pantry and mail it to: Lakes Region Food Pantry, PO Box 1132, Moultonborough, NH 03254.

lmulkern@newstote.com


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