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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Major donation arrives at New Hampshire Food Bank

MANCHESTER – It’s a sight usually relegated to the vast storerooms attached to wholesale clubs: Forklifts hauling dozens of shrink-wrapped pallets loaded with cans and boxes of mixed vegetables, pasta, tuna, cereal, tomato sauce and other staples from trailer trucks onto industrial-strength shelving.

On Tuesday, however, the scenario played out in the midst of big smiles and words of gratitude at the New Hampshire Food Bank, where forklift operators moved an eye-popping 40,000 pounds of donated food, pallet by pallet, from a trailer that arrived late-morning from Rhode Island. ...

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MANCHESTER – It’s a sight usually relegated to the vast storerooms attached to wholesale clubs: Forklifts hauling dozens of shrink-wrapped pallets loaded with cans and boxes of mixed vegetables, pasta, tuna, cereal, tomato sauce and other staples from trailer trucks onto industrial-strength shelving.

On Tuesday, however, the scenario played out in the midst of big smiles and words of gratitude at the New Hampshire Food Bank, where forklift operators moved an eye-popping 40,000 pounds of donated food, pallet by pallet, from a trailer that arrived late-morning from Rhode Island.

The super-sized donation was one of 10 delivered to social service agencies throughout New England and New York Tuesday as part of Rhode Island-based retailer Ocean State Job Lot’s community assistance program called Three Square Meals.

“This is a very significant donation,” Food Bank executive
director Mel Gosselin said. “Most of our biggest donations come in December. We typically don’t see truckloads coming in in January.”

That the Food Bank receives no federal or state funding makes donations like Tuesday’s ever more important, Gosselin said.

“This is the time of year when people are deciding whether to heat or eat. We usually distribute 40,000-50,000 pounds of food a day (statewide).”

The Food Bank, which is affiliated with New Hampshire Catholic Charities, serves as the state’s clearing house and distribution point for food donations.

Each year, it distributes roughly 7.8 million pounds of food to more than 400 agencies statewide, the bulk of which are concentrated in south-central New Hampshire and the Seacoast area, according to public relations coordinator Shawna Frechette.

All told, close to a half-million pounds of donated food worth around $1.2 million was delivered Tuesday, making it the single largest food donation of its kind in New England, Ocean State Job Lot officials said.

A spokesman at its North Kingstown, R.I., headquarters called it the “biggest initiative yet” by the 107-store chain “to fight hunger in the region.”

Officials said the convoy of 10 tractor-trailer trucks bound for various points north departed company headquarters early Tuesday with a state police escort.

The donation is rooted among Ocean State Job Lot’s customers, who during the holiday shopping season are asked to pledge $1 at the register. The company then matches the amount collected and sets out to find the best
prices.

“We are pleased to partner with our customers in charitable initiatives, chief among them the important fight on hunger,” company owner and partner Alan Perlman said. “People shy away from asking for help, and many families go hungry every day. We’re stepping up with the support of our customers and encouraging other business partners to join this effort.”

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas was present for Tuesday’s donation, chatting with other visitors including Chris Taylor, manager of Ocean State Job Lot in
Concord.

“This is great, isn’t it?” Gatsas said as he watched forklifts laden with food zip past him. “This kind of donation will help in the vicinity of 130,000 people around here, throughout the year,” he said.

Gatsas also admitted, with a wink, to “wooing” the chain to open a store in Manchester. “Yep, I’d love to see one here. You could say I’m wooing them,” he said with a laugh.

Taylor said Ocean State’s 10th New Hampshire store, on Manchester Road in Derry, is expected to open in the spring.

It will join locations in Concord, Hooksett, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Ossipee, Newport, Walpole, Woodsville and Northumberland.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.
Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter
(@Telegraph_DeanS).