The Grade 5 classes at in Attleboro learned the hard truth about the St. Vincent dePaul Society's need to help those who are hungry.
SJE students participated in a Mass recently where they greeted and received bags of food from the parishioners, read, brought up gifts, and baked for a post-Mass social.
With help from SVDP member, John Birch, the students learned how the pantry members operate, organize the food and distribute the goods.
The lesson came at a time when Project Bread, an anti-hunger organization, released numbers from its annual Status Report on Hunger in Massachusetts 2011. The report reveals that more than 700,000 people in the state are struggling and that that the income gap has widened.
The report shows that Massachusetts has a dramatic and increasing income gap. The number of high-paying jobs have gone up while the number of manufacturing drops have dropped leaving the Bay State with one of the greatest income gaps in the nation.
Wider gap equals greater need
A wider gap has resulted in a greater need for assistance with food.
Along with local pantries, residents in the Attleboro area rely heavily on Project Bread, which helps to support six weekly soup kitchens and two family cafes, which operate twice monthly, in Attleboro.
The Family Cafes are soup kitchens geared at targeting families with children 18 years and younger, according to Pam Tarallo, Food and Friends Program Coordinator. So far in 2011, nearly 34,00 meals have been served and in 2010 the organization served more than 38,000 meals in the area and through the, which launched in July 2010, a total of 960 meals were served.
"We see an entirely different clientele that attend the cafes. These are families that have never been seen in the other kitchens and this is our goal. The cafes operate the last Wednesday and Saturday of the month.
"At this time they operate the last Wednesday and Saturday of the month and we are currently in the process of getting two more up and running on the first and second Wednesday of the month," Tarallo said.
Along with the kitchens Food n Friends also operates a Breakfast Program, where a bag of non perishable breakfast items are delivered weekly to homes, according to Tarallo. "This past summer we ran a twice weekly , where we passed out free lunches to low income children in Attleboro."