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The September jobless rate was a hopeful 6.9 percent in Massachusetts, down from 16.1 percent in July, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It was the highest unemployment rate in the country and food pantries were being taxed by the burgeoning needs. Earlier this month, Tim Baker, president of the Westford Food Pantry, addressed why there’s been no uptick in food pantry clients in Westford — so different from other areas of the country.
“We actually are seeing a slight increase,” Baker said. “I will say your levels are pretty close to where they’ve been the last few months. We’ve kind of expected a higher demand as we get into the holidays, but we really haven’t seen that materialize yet. We do anticipate the need will continue to grow as we get past the holidays in January and February or into the dead of the winter months.”
Baker praised Westford residents for their generosity toward the food pantry, and its partners, the Cameron Senior Center and St. Vincent DePaul. The pantry is a 501(C)(3) volunteer run organization. It depends on the generosity of others to keep it funded, Baker added.
Since the pandemic began, Baker has been operating the pantry with a skeletal crew of 12 or so volunteers to reduce the risk of exposure. The team is not presently in need of more volunteers, he said.
“Our monetary donations and our food donations have been very strong, thanks to the community. So we are well equipped to support people as they come into the pantry,” Baker said.
The Westford Food Pantry is open from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 9 to 11 a.m. on Fridays at the Cameron Senior Center, 20 Pleasant St., Westford.