By John Toole
---- — The New Hampshire Food Bank is worried about replacing food donations from Stop & Shop and Shaw’s supermarkets.
Executive director Melanie Gosselin said the grocers contribute a lot of food.
“Those two companies have been great partners to the Food Bank,” Gosselin said yesterday. “We estimate we get 500,000 pounds of food from just those 12 stores. We’re obviously devastated those stores are closing.”
John Dumais, president of the New Hampshire Grocers Association, acknowledged the blow to the Food Bank.
“Now that’s going to stop,” Dumais said. “That’s going to be hurting them a little bit. I hope others can contribute.”
Gosselin would not discuss which other grocery chains are contributing because she said the Food Bank is now reaching out for help.
“We want to open other doors,” she said.
Among local organizations aided by the Food Bank are Sonshine Soup Kitchen in Derry, the Food Pantry in Pelham, the Salem Food Pantry and Holy Angels Food Pantry in Plaistow.
Sonshine Soup Kitchen only gets about 5 percent of its food from the Food Bank.
“Could it affect us? Maybe,” program director Christine Fudala said. “I think it’s sure going to hurt the food pantries.”
The store closures come at a bad time for the Food Bank.
“Need is outpacing our resources,” Gosselin said.
Donations are down about 5 percent this year compared to last, with agencies reporting demand up as much as 40 percent, she said.
Summer is an especially challenging time, with people on vacation and students who organize food drives out of school, Gosselin said.