924 items replenish Northfield Food Pantry, thanks to annual student food drive

Northfield Elementary School students and staff members pass nonperishable food items from the school to the Northfield Food Pantry at Dickinson Memorial Library on Tuesday.

Northfield Elementary School students and staff members pass nonperishable food items from the school to the Northfield Food Pantry at Dickinson Memorial Library on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

A cartful of nonperishable food is transferred across Main Street from Northfield Elementary School to the Northfield Food Pantry at Dickinson Memorial Library on Tuesday.

A cartful of nonperishable food is transferred across Main Street from Northfield Elementary School to the Northfield Food Pantry at Dickinson Memorial Library on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Northfield Elementary School students and staff members pass nonperishable food items from the school to the Northfield Food Pantry at Dickinson Memorial Library on Tuesday.

Northfield Elementary School students and staff members pass nonperishable food items from the school to the Northfield Food Pantry at Dickinson Memorial Library on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 11-22-2023 9:52 AM

NORTHFIELD — In what has become a time-honored tradition, Northfield Elementary School students formed a human assembly line and passed along jars of peanut butter, pasta sauce and other nonperishables during the annual food drive on Tuesday.

Led by Carolyn Baskowski’s fourth grade class, the school and community members have been working this month to collect 924 nonperishable food items to give to the Northfield Food Pantry, housed at Dickinson Memorial Library. This tally is the highest one in recent memory, narrowly topping last year’s collection of 921 items.

“I do believe that might be the most we’ve ever had,” Baskowski said to the students and staff gathered in the gymnasium, who broke out into cheers and applause. Baskowski has helped put together the food drive with other staff members since 2014.

Forming a line from the school to the crosswalk across from Dickinson Memorial Library and then into the food pantry itself, students — and volunteers from the Northfield Senior Center’s intergenerational Happy Feet walking program — passed each item down the line, enthusiastically helping replenish the Northfield Food Pantry’s stock. The Northfield Police Department provided assistance by directing traffic when carts full of food were crossing the street.

“It’s fantastic to be able to see all the kids work together as a community,” said Northfield Elementary Principal Kristen Schreiber, who in her first year on the job was seeing the growing partnership between the school and the Senior Center. “The more we can do these things, the better.”

One of those enthusiastic students was fourth grader Collin Winslow, who was part of the group bringing items into the food pantry to be sorted. He explained his class constructed donation boxes for each classroom.

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“We’re really happy. … I’m happy that everyone contributed,” Collin said of the record number of items collected this year. “It’s a privilege to be here to pass food.”

Northfield Food Pantry Manager Linda Chapin said it’s “wonderful” that the kids get so excited about helping the food pantry and their neighbors in need. She said the school’s food drive is “definitely” one of the food pantry’s biggest contributions each year. While not directly involved in Tuesday’s effort, Bernardston Elementary School is also planning to bring a delivery of food this week.

“I think it’s really great for the kids; they’re really excited about it,” Chapin said. “You can see the quality of this stuff, it’s awesome. … We have a very generous community.”

Chapin said volunteers serve about 50 families on the two days the food pantry is open each month. The pantry, located in the basement of Dickinson Memorial Library at 115 Main St., is open on the second and fourth Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Chapin encourages anyone who needs help to stop by.

“If you need help, please come,” Chapin said, noting there is no personal information required. “That’s why we’re here.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.