After St. James and St. John the Baptist started sponsoring the pantry, they thought of changing its name, but Murray said they changed their mind.
“We did not want people to get confused or think we were not there any more,” he said.
The pantry is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays weekly throughout the year. It distributes supplemental groceries to 800 families and individuals a month with the help of about 20 volunteers. They include previous clients, congregation members and area residents, Ganais said.
Instead of giving them a bag full of groceries, clients are escorted as they choose from the different food items, based on their dietary needs.
The Open Hand Pantry receives the majority of the food from the Merrimack Valley Food Bank in Lowell. Other sources include weekly donations from members of St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes. Haverhill Public Schools, Latitude Sports Club, Bradford Ski area and Merrimack Valley Hospital have also hosted food drives for the pantry.