LACONIA — The Dead River Company, the largest home heating service in northern New England, yesterday enriched its longstanding partnership with the New Hampshire Food Bank by donating a new refrigerated box truck to the charity, which hosted a mobile food pantry at the Boys and Girls Club of the Lakes Region.
Mel Gosselin, executive director of of the N.H. Food Bank, said that the partnership between the company and the charity stemmed from the two being "sort of in the same business — keeping families together, fed and warm." Together they have distributed more than 700,000 pounds of food to the one in nine residents of New Hampshire who wonder where there next meal will come from.
"Our employees are in peoples' homes every day," said Deanna Sherman, vice-president of Dead River Company, "and they see the needs first-hand. We're humbled to be helping you here today."
"And the truck has food in it," added Gosselin.
Sherman said that when Gosselin was asked how the company could help, she answered that the charity needed a truck to deliver food to the more than 418 food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, day care centers, after school programs and senior programs it serves throughout the state. In 2014 the N.H. Food Bank distributed 11 million pounds of food — the equivalent of 9,166,666 meals — to meet the needs of more than 143,000 residents, many of them children. After increasing its distribution by 30 percent last year, Gosselin said the NH Food Bank aims to increase its distribution another 10 percent, to more than 12 million pounds, this year.
Gosselin said that the 26-foot truck, with capacity for 10,000 pounds of foodstuffs, will replace an aging vehicle, sparing the charity costly repairs. The N.H. Food Bank, which operates without state or federal funding, operates a fleet of four distribution vehicles.
Mayor Ed Engler noted that it was appropriate the partners chose Laconia, where the Got Lunch program, which has since spread to more than a dozen communities, originated. He noted that the number of students in the city schools receiving free and reduced lunch has doubled in the last decade to represent nearly two-thirds of the total enrollment. Stressing that "we appreciate all the work you do," he said "it's not enough to distribute the food. There are way too many hungry people and people living below the poverty line," he continued. "We need to stop and think about we can do to reduce the need."