The Future of the Topsfield Food Pantry in Question

By Michael Dougherty

 

For the past 25 years the Topsfield food pantry has been providing food to those in need in over 14 communities around the Topsfield, Maine area. For the past six years Diana and Charles Harriman have been at the forefront of the effort to make sure no one in these communities goes without sufficient food for their families.

The food pantry is currently run out of the Topsfield Congregational Church basement and provides food for 128 clients. These clients include families down on their luck, the elderly and various other community members in need. In tough economic times the Topsfield food pantry has always been a place the locals could count on but over the past couple years the pantry itself has had a tough time obtaining enough funding to keep the pantry up and running.

The first obstacle the Harriman’s face is finding a new location. The current location is far too cold in the winter and has low hanging duct work and beams that are a danger to their older clients.

“It is harder for older people, getting up and down the stairs and now I’m having a hard time getting up and down the steep steps,” Diana Harriman said on Monday. “We would love to have a new location but there is no money.”

The pantry costs roughly $50 a month to run but this does not include a substantial heating costs in the colder months. The use of space heaters is needed to supplement the oil heat and can result in heating costs of up to $600 a month.

The second problem the food pantry faces is funds as a whole. While the pantry has several organizations who help out as much as they can, the Harriman’s have had to use their own funds to keep the pantry open. Charles Harriman is a retiree and would like nothing more than to keep the pantry up and running but is afraid that without additional funding they will have to close the pantry.

“We may have to close the pantry if the money doesn’t come in,” he said on Monday. “We’ve put $1400-$1500 of our own money into it. We’re hoping it doesn’t come to that but we may have to.”

If you would like to help the Topsfield food pantry with a monetary donation, food donation or a new location you can call Charles or Diana at (207) 796-2747.