Your recent article Food Stamp Cuts Hit Home does a good job of showing how the Vineyard is not immune to the food insecurity challenges that affect the entire country, as cuts to government programs like SNAP make difficult situations even more difficult. It’s estimated that at least one in nine Island families is dealing with food insecurity. The article also nicely points up some of the ways that Vineyarders come together to take care of one another, including the Island Food Pantry and Serving Hands Food Distribution.
I would like to draw particular attention to one program that is especially important this time of year, the Family-to-Family holiday meal distribution. For $25, one Island family can provide another family all the ingredients for a traditional repast. What better way to demonstrate a true feeling of a Vineyard Thanksgiving?
Three times each year — at Thanksgiving time, at Christmastime and again in the spring — holiday meal baskets are distributed to families in need. Each participating family receives a turkey, bags of apples, oranges, carrots and onions, and stuffing mix, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie mix, squash, and eggs. It’s our hope that all families on the Island, regardless of circumstances, will get to enjoy the holidays.
Family-to-Family is entirely run by volunteers, and is in its 10th year of operation. Last year we served more than 7,000 pounds of food to nearly 200 families, and this year we’re expecting more. This program is funded entirely by donations to Family-to-Family through the Vineyard Committee on Hunger. The Island community has been very generous in the past, but demand keeps going up. This year like every year we start to worry whether we’ll have enough money to keep the program going. So we’re appealing for help. We suggest that families who can afford to do so donate $25, which is the approximate cost of one family’s package. Contributions would be especially welcome now.
Distribution day is a joyous time for Family-to-Family volunteers. It takes about five hours to set up, three or more hours to do the distribution, and another few hours to clean up. But when it’s all over, we know that we’ve done a good and neighborly thing.
Family-to-Family is more important this year than ever, as cuts to other programs are arriving at the same time as cold weather and winter fuel bills. Just when it’s time for families to sit down and celebrate together, many are finding themselves in dire straits. We invite your readers to share in the neighborly feeling by sending a check today.
The Thanksgiving distribution will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22, at the First Baptist Church Parish House, on William street in Vineyard Haven.
Tax-deductible contributions can be made to the Vineyard Committee on Hunger, P.O. Box 4685, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
Please indicate in the memo section of your check that it is for Family-to-Family.
The writer is president of the Vineyard Committee on Hunger.