In the Mix is BloggingBelmont’s occasional series that profiles important people in town. In our last installment, Selectman Angelo Firenze gave us his thoughts on the future of the town and on his role, as Selectman, in
shaping it. This time around, BloggingBelmont sat down with Patricia Mihelich of the Belmont Food Pantry to talk about her 15 year-long effort to help put food on the tables of Belmont’s neediest families.
A brief history:
Mihelich said the idea for starting a Food Pantry in Belmont came to her while she was working for St. Joseph’s Rectory on Common St. “People would come to our door looking for food assistance,” she said. Without a pantry in town, Belmont families that were in need were going to pantries in Arlington and Lexington, instead, she said. Even affluent towns like Wellesley had been running a pantry for almost a decade by the time Belmont decided to launch its own, she notes.
The Belmont Food Pantry got its start in the basement of the Waverly St. fire station. When that building was sold to developers, the Pantry moved to a modular building behind Belmont High School, where it is open the first and third Saturday each month between 8:30 and 9:30 am, as well as the second Tuesday and third Thursday of the month between 5:30 and 6:30.
The Pantry, which at first served 16 Belmont families now serves over 40. Around 40 percent of the Pantry’s regular beneficiaries are elderly, with many coming from the town’s senior housing developments. Job loss, health problems and other factors leave others in need of the Pantry’s support. “Just because there are multi-million dollar homes doesn’t mean there aren’t people in need” Mihelich said.
The Belmont Food Pantry survives entirely on donations — it doesn’t receive State aid or support from Project Bread. Looking for ideas for donations? Mihelich recommends the following:
-instant mashed potatos
-paper towels, soap and toothpaste
As for donation no-nos…canned pumpkin! “There’s only one dish you can make with it,” she notes.
As for volunteer activities — Mihelich said volunteers are always welcome to help sort food and stock shelves.