Here for hard times

“I try not to despair,”

says Mariana*, a 45-year-old Gloucester mother of four children under the age of 12, when asked about how she will manage the record high food prices and electricity increases her family will face this winter.

Mariana is a stay-at-home mom. Her husband makes $52,000 a year without benefits, but with $2,200 due each month for rent as well as an $180 electrical bill, $140 gas bill, and $80 internet bill—something her children need for school—little is left for food, other necessities, or emergencies.

Mariana is far from alone in her worries about what the future holds if prices continue to climb. As it is, her family barely gets by. She keeps her family fed with healthy fruits and vegetables, as well as chicken, beef, and other essentials thanks to weekly orders from The Open Door.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index reported this October that the cost of food at home rose 13% from September 2021 to September 2022. For example, the cost of eggs rose by 30.5%, and flour increased 24.2%.

The above graph sources data issued by The Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index this October.

“Who hasn’t walked out of the grocery store recently reeling from the cost of buying groceries? For those who are on the cusp financially, it has been devastating,” President and CEO Julie LaFontaine said. “People are choosing between rent, utilities, and food. The Open Door fills that gap, but we need help from those who can give, especially as requests for food assistance continue to trend upward.”

This summer and early fall, as food prices continued to rise, requests for food assistance at The Open Door climbed 31% over the same period last year.

“Unfortunately, through COVID and the past two years, things changed. The price of goods and services went up,” says James, a 61-year-old Marine veteran of Gloucester with a fixed monthly income of $1,700. “Using The Open Door saves me a considerable amount of money when it comes to groceries.”

Lisa*, a 79-year-old single woman in Rockport, first came to The Open Door for help with an application for SNAP (Food Stamps). She also uses The Open Door Mobile Market to get fresh produce and eggs.

Food is far from the only basic need that’s gotten more expensive over the last year: rent, utilities, and the cost of transportation continue to rise. The cost of fuel has increased 58.1% and electricity rose 15.5% from September 2021 to September 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. However, in Massachusetts National Grid projects electricity costs will rise 64% this winter.

“There’s a break-even point where your money isn’t stretching as far as you need to cover the basic things in life.” ~Lisa, a client.

For Abby*, 58, of Rowley, getting groceries from the food pantry felt surreal at first.

“The first month, it was so embarrassing. Every time I pulled into the driveway, I was like, I can’t believe we have to do this,” Abby says.

“I have no money, and I have to feed the kids.”

~ Abby, a client.

A single, working mom, Abby fell far behind on bills last year when her children’s father stopped paying child support.

“The stress is crushing me,” she said. “I can’t focus at times. I’m petrified we’re going to get evicted.”

For Abby and many others, the cost of food is one less thing to worry about thanks to The Open Door. It can be the difference between eating, paying rent, getting medicine, keeping the heat on, or filling the gas tank.

Your help makes all the difference for local people like Mariana, James, Lisa, and Abby.

Donate today and help put food on the table tomorrow. Checks may also be made out to The Open Door and mailed to:

The Open Door
28 Emerson Avenue,
Gloucester MA 01930.

*Names have been changed.

Food Pantry Coordinator and ESL Advocate Carolina Sosa stocks oranges in The Open Door Fulfillment Center.

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