A program that organizers say was a critical lifeline for low-income residents of New Hampshire’s northernmost towns has closed.
The Pittsburg Area Community Service food pantry and thrift shop opened on Pittsburg’s Main Street six years ago, run entirely by volunteers.
But when the building’s owner notified organizers earlier this year that its lease would not be renewed, that led to its closure Saturday after a new home couldn’t be found in time.
Haven Haynes Junior, a member of the board of directors for Pittsburg Area Community Services, joined NHPR’s Morning Edition.
How much of a need is there for a program like this in that area?
There is very much a need. Since 2010, just through the New Hampshire Food Bank, we have distributed more than 150,000 pounds of food.
That’s an extraordinary number for an area that doesn’t have a high population.
It doesn’t have a lot of population, but we have lost a lot of manufacturing up here, a lot of businesses have closed. We have a lot of elderly. Right now, we have 35 families with a total of 68 people. We were providing food baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas to help families out. Through the thrift shop, we’ve also provided families with hats, mittens, winter coats, and blankets free of charge for our clients.
So you worry heading into the colder months that things could be tougher?
Yes, they will be.
Now that it’s closed, what are those families and seniors doing?
Basically what they’re going to end up doing is going to Colebrook food shelf for those services.
How far of a drive is that?
You’re looking at about 50 miles, round trip. Pittsburg just happens to be the biggest township this side of the Mississippi River, too. So you’ve got a wide area up here of people and having it in Pittsburg made it easier access for everybody. And the whole place is run entirely by volunteers.
You’re now looking for another home for the food pantry. How’s that going?
We haven’t been able to find anything so far. We have had articles in the papers. We have been trying to find something that’s within the price range that we can raise funds from the thrift shop to support ourselves a bit, but we right now, we just haven’t found much of anything. So the next step is getting people geared for going down to Colebrook until we can get started back up and get things going.
How do you get those people to Colebrook? I imagine you have a bunch of clients who aren’t driving.
They do have the tri-county vans, but basically friends, neighbors, and volunteers in the area help out.