‘Everybody needs a little bit of help sometimes’: Community Cupboard offers support in time of need

  • Louise Hurwitz fills bags of food for Chesterfield residents as part of the Community Cupboard program at the Chesterfield Council on Aging. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Louise Hurwitz fills bags of food for Lillian Bisbee, a Chesterfield resident, as part of the Community Cupboard program at the Chesterfield Council on Aging. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Louise Hurwitz and Jan Gibeau, the director of the Chesterfield Council on Aging, fills bags of food for Chesterfield residents as part of the Community Cupboard program. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Lillian Bisbee leaves the Chesterfield Council on Aging after receiving bags of food from the Community Cupboard program at the Chesterfield Council on Aging. Behind her is volunteer Louise Hurwitz. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 12/15/2020 11:13:33 AM

CHESTERFIELD – The COVID-19 pandemic has changed life around the world. But amid death, suffering and national upheaval, Chesterfield decided to create a place where everyone could get food — for free.

“It’s really a response to the onset of the COVID pandemic,” said Janice Gibeau, director of the Council on Aging. 

The fruits of this response are the Community Cupboard, which opened this spring. The cupboard, a project of the Community Support Team, is open to anyone who wants to get food, with no means testing.

“When you offer, there are definitely people who need,” said team volunteer Nancy Rich. 

Gibeau said the cupboard was created to serve not only those who are suffering financial hardship or who have lost their jobs, but also older people who don’t want to shop in higher-populated areas.

“It’s a judgment-free zone,” said Greg Monette. “Everybody just needs a little bit of help sometimes.”

Monette co-owns the Chesterfield General Store and Cafe, which donates to the cupboard, usually bread and produce. However, he said the store’s donations pale in comparison to what the community donates.

“I’ve never seen more peanut butter and jelly in one place in my life,” he said.

The cupboard was first run out of a repurposed shed near Town Hall that was lent by the Recreation Committee. Initially, it was open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and people could enter the shed and take what they wanted. A refrigerator/freezer also allowed perishable items to be donated.

In addition to food, puzzles and games were available as well, but now that people can get books from the town library, only puzzles are offered.

The cupboard operated in this way through September, after which it moved into the Chesterfield Community Center. Now it is open from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. Volunteers give people checklists and then come out with food.

People can come to the cupboard both days it is open, and Gibeau said some people donate money when they pick up their food.

In addition to individual donations, Gibeau said money has been given to the cupboard from organizations that include  Florence Savings Bank and Hilltown CDC. Volunteers buy food with the money donated.

“It’s a pretty routine easy job after you get used to it,” Rich said. 

Pet food is also available at the Community Cupboard, with the Dakin Humane Society having donated a large amount of dog food.

 Gibeau said that having a pet is a good way to combat isolation.

“Having a pet is like having your best friend,” she said. “Your vital signs even get better.”

The future of the cupboard will be evaluated once a vaccine for COVID-19 is available, and its sustainability will be determined by donations.

“We’re one of many groups that’s doing our best to help out,” Rich said. “I’m glad that we can do that.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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