NORTH ADAMS — The city of North Adams and North Adams Public Schools will hold their yearly food drive from Tuesday through Dec. 11.
Donations will go to the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry, which gives out boxes of food every Wednesday at 45 Eagle St. The pantry has seen higher levels of need in recent weeks, coupled with fewer local donations this year because of the pandemic.
“We know that hunger and food insecurity have increased this year,” North Adams Mayor Tom Bernard said in a statement on Monday. “The Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry and other providers in the community have performed heroic service and dedicated work to meet the needs of our family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.”
More families have been visiting the pantry this month, according to Mark Rondeau, board president at the Northern Berkshire Interfaith Action Initiative, which oversees the center.
About 140 families have received food each week over the past three weeks, compared with 110 to 120 per week earlier this year.
“We never got slammed when COVID hit, I think because there was so much [federal and local] aid,” Rondeau said. “But at this point, perhaps, we’re going to start seeing that.”
Community donations also have decreased in volume this year with the pandemic, he said. The pantry typically gets 20 percent of its food from local donations and 80 percent from The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, according to Rondeau.
“This is always an important effort to help us,” he said. “And it should help this year particularly because our local donations have gone down some.”
There will be collection boxes for donations at City Hall, district schools, the public library, the Mary Spitzer Center, and the police and fire stations.
The pantry has encouraged community members to donate these items: tuna; peanut butter; brown rice; whole wheat pasta; pasta sauce; low-sodium canned vegetables (e.g. potatoes, green beans, carrots); low-sodium soups; whole-grain cereals (low sugar) and/or oatmeal; canned fruits (no sugar added); beans (e.g. kidney beans and garbanzo beans); and personal care items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap and shampoo.