A food pantry that serves Manchester and Essex families may be losing some storage room and workspace but not its spirit of serving the North Shore community.
The South Hamilton home of Acord Food Pantry of South Hamilton was sold to Harbor Light Community Partners of Beverly after the death of the former owner. Harbor Light plans to install four affordable apartments, one of which will be handicapped accessible.
The change will cramp the pantry's storefront size but will not affect the number of people Acord is serving, according to Deby Baker, its part-time managing director since May 2010 and only paid employee.
Acord provides food for an average of 300 households a week from Essex, Manchester, Hamilton, Wenham, Ipswich, and Topsfield, according to Baker.
"We will still serve the people, no matter what," said Baker.
Acord is one of dozens of pantries on Cape Ann and the North Shore surviving to support others in spite of economic or real estate setbacks. Collaborating its efforts with various pantries, Acord receives weekly drop-offs of food from the Gloucester-based The Open Door food pantry's truck and other donors.
"Most of these food pantry organizations are small, so when they band together they accomplish much more," said Dave Welbourne, executive director of Essex County Community Foundation, which supporting nonprofit organizations with grants, strategic planning and fundraising. "The coming together is largely an efficiency improvement. It's easier to raise money, get supplies and so on."
Each pantry operates differently.
"For years now Acord has had a lot of people working a little bit," said Ann Smith, an Acord volunteer and board member. "We find this helps."
Five to eight volunteers work per day, two days a week. The pantry has up to 100 volunteer workers, ranging in ages from 6 to 80.
Now, Acord volunteers are preparing for construction that's set for completion by July, making its pantry a little cozier. But it's not something Baker is complaining about. "We are still absolutely thankful for the space we'll have," Baker said.
State and town governments, and public donations will pay for the construction of the new apartments. "There is very little affordable housing in Hamilton," said Andrew DeFranza, executive director of Harbor Light Community Partners.
As budgets tighten, space diminishes and need increases because of the economy, Welbourne said food pantries across the North Shore — like Acord — are holding firm in their work and uniting in new ways.
"The bottom line is we need to make sure that everyone has food," said Baker.
On the Web
For more information, please visit the following:
Acord Food Pantry, acordfoodpantry.org.
Harbor Light Community Partners, www.harborlightcp.org.
Essex County Community Foundation, www.eccf.org.