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Holliston - Local Town Pages

Holliston Pantry Shelf marks 30th anniversary, community needs have grown 20% since January

One of the Pantry’s generous donors is Griffin Electric who has, for more than 10 years, provided backpacks and school supplies for each school-aged child within the Pantry. Courtesy photo

By Theresa Knapp
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Holliston Pantry Shelf. Founded in 1993, the Pantry has evolved from a little cupboard of food in the Town Hall basement to its first small storefront on Water Street to today’s downtown location on Charles Street. And through the generosity of many community members, the Pantry proudly stands ready to serve any community member in need.

“Last year, we served 233 families, which is about 450 individuals,” said Pantry Shelf President Karen Jewett. “The Pantry Shelf serves any Holliston resident who is in need. Period. We have a simple application process at the Town Hall and welcome any community member who is struggling with food insecurity to reach out to us for assistance.”  
The Pantry offers shoppers “a grocery store experience where Holliston residents are able to select from close to 500 quality food items; they also offer personal care items like shampoo, laundry detergent, soap and toothpaste,” says  
Jewett said confidentiality is of the upmost importance at the Pantry.
“One of the most important concepts we live by at the Pantry is that difficult times could fall on any one of us without notice. Our hope is that we are a go-to for people who struggle with food insecurity. In Massachusetts, 1 in 3 families struggles with food insecurity. We know the effects of this are so very impactful on peoples’ well-being, mental health, and financial security. We want our residents to know they have a place to turn to for support and smiles.”
The Holliston Pantry Shelf serves anyone in need of assistance which includes families who have lost their jobs, elderly people who struggle with inflation and mobility, adults with disabilities, individuals who face cancer treatments rendering them unable to work, families who have legally emigrated from their home countries for safety in the US, and people who work full-time jobs who simply cannot afford the cost of food and living expenses.
Jewett noted that, over the past nine months, they have seen a 20% increase in shoppers and, in comparison to last year, the Pantry’s cost for purchasing food and the cost of Pantry utilities and maintenance has increased 30%.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pantry has not held any of its annual community events, however, on Dec. 13 they will be hosting Pasta with Santa at Anthony’s on the Green. Later, on Feb. 9, they will also bring back their Souperbowl dinner at St. Mary’s Church.  Winter coat drive
Currently, the Pantry is collecting adult winter coats to benefit patrons of the Pantry. New coats in adult sizes Small to XXL can be dropped of in Holliston at Coffee Haven and Bazels.
If you need assistance
The application is simple and quick, and can be found at Any Holliston resident in need of assistance is encouraged to apply.
Volunteers needed
Volunteers must be 16 or older; there are some opportunities for children under the age of 16.
Ways to volunteer include working a regular shift during hours of operation (many different shifts available); becoming a member of the Food Crew, intaking groceries and restocking shelves; driving to pick up groceries; or baking or helping out at special events and fundraisers.
For details, visit
Donations needed
Donations can be made at by credit card or Paypal. Checks can be made payable to “Holliston Pantry Shelf” and mailed to Holliston Pantry Shelf, PO Box 6662. Ongoing monthly contributions are also accepted. Ways to donate include making a general monetary donation, sponsoring a family, or giving a gift in memory of – or honor of – a specific person.
A special thanks at the holidays
Jewett said, “We are blessed to have the support of many organizations in town to help out our families. Each year the Holliston Newcomers support our Thanksgiving Basket/gift card program, the Lions host ‘Operation Mittens,’ and the Knights of Columbus host a golf tournament to benefit the Pantry. The schools are also wonderful supporters of the Pantry. They collect items each month and the Girl Scout troops gather the items and bring them to the Pantry. The Girl Scouts do so much to support the Pantry, including this summer they attended the Summer Concert Series in the Park to collect food and donations for the Pantry.”
There are several generous business owners and municipal offices in town “who support the Pantry either through food drives, supporting community fundraisers, or their generous monetary donations,” said Jewett, adding special thanks to Griffin Electric for their quiet and unwavering support.
“The Pantry is clearly near and dear to them,” said Jewett. “They support us financially but also by supporting our community events and ongoing programs. For example, each year (for well over 10 years) Griffin Electric has provided backpacks and school supplies for each school-aged child within the Pantry.”
And lastly, Jewett thanks the more than 100 volunteers who support the Pantry in a variety of ways.
“We are fortunate enough to remain open for our shoppers five days per week [Mon. to Fri.] because of the many volunteers who show up each week to work a two-hour shift at the Pantry. The ‘behind the scenes’ workers are truly the backbone of the Pantry; they work when no one sees them to receive inventory, stock shelves, make volunteer schedules, complete reports and balance finances,  correspond with our many donors, keep us present on social media, and so many other jobs that often go unseen…The list goes on and on and each job, whether small or large, puts all the pieces of the puzzle together for us to serve our neighbors in need.”