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A red road sign that says stop hunger

As Thanksgiving approaches, millions of Americans are looking forward to celebrating the holiday with family, friends, heaping plates of food, and maybe even some football. It’s a time of plenty for most but for some of the 750,000 Massachusetts residents who experience hunger and struggle to put food on their table on a regular basis, it’s less joyous and festive. Instead, it’s just another day to worry about where their next meal will come from.

Food Banks, Food Pantries, and Soup Kitchens

There are a number of organizations and programs throughout Massachusetts to help struggling residents find relief from hunger. Project Bread works to end hunger in the state by connecting those in need with a range of food resources, including food pantries and soup kitchens. They also provide information about school meals, summer food programs for children, meal programs for seniors, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Food banks welcome any individual in need of a meal on a walk-in basis. Food banks and pantries offer ready-to-eat meals free of charge, and most communities in Massachusetts have food pantries.

SNAP Benefits

While food banks offer emergency assistance, Massachusetts has solutions for residents who experience long-term hunger. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides year-round assistance buying food to low-income households; benefits are based on a household’s size, income, and expenses.

Resources for Women, Infants, and Children

The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program offers free nutrition and health workshops, money to buy food, and health screenings to families who qualify. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, foster parents, and legal guardians of a child under five years old can apply for WIC. The program also teaches parents how to care for a newborn; shop on a budget; plan meals; maintain a healthy weight; and deal with picky eaters.

Food Assistance for Seniors

Because seniors have typically been less likely to apply for SNAP benefits, the application process has been simplified and the application is now only two pages long.

Seniors can also receive healthy meals from Meals on Wheels and at senior dining centers located across Massachusetts. For both, there is a suggested donation of $2 per meal, although meals are free to those who cannot afford to pay. In addition to delivering prepared meals, Meals on Wheels drivers report any health issues or other problems they see during their visits with seniors.

Dining centers are another good option for seniors looking to grab a hot lunch during the week. These gathering places encourage socializing, creating friendships, and provide a strong social support system. Transportation to and from a senior’s home is provided by each center.

For some, hunger is an everyday problem in Massachusetts. As we move into the holiday season, please make life a little easier for those who struggle by checking in with an elderly neighbor or by donating to a local food pantry.

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