Demand on the rise at Upper Valley social services nonprofit

Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 5:04 PM EDT
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LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) - An Upper Valley nonprofit that helps lower-income residents with everything from food assistance to paying bills, is seeing a huge jump in need.

As inflation and other factors continue to stress the economy, officials at LISTEN Community Services say the need for their services continues to grow.

“We love coming here because we can get all sorts of stuff that is usually expensive,” said Brianna Dubois of West Lebanon, who shops at the LISTEN Community Services thrift stores on a regular basis. They have all kinds of items, like clothes and jewelry, at steeply discounted prices. “We are kind of on a fixed income. We couldn’t afford brand new clothes every other month when our kids put holes in them or stain them or outgrow them.”

The thrift store helps pay for LISTEN’s food pantry and a variety of other services for residents across dozens of Upper Valley towns. “The number of people who visit the food pantry on a daily or weekly basis has increased dramatically,” said Rob Roy McGregor, the organization’s executive director. He says demand at the panty is up roughly 50% over last year. Nightly community meals are up 31%. “With all the changes that are going on in our society around SNAP -- what was food stamps -- and the loss of benefits for many, food insecurity is a huge issue.”

Along with increased demand for food, the demand for other LISTEN programs such as rent and heating bills is also way up. The good news, officials say, is help is available. “The bad news is, however, there are a lot of people who are insecure,” McGregor said.

And people who shop at the store are happy to help foot the bill. “We like to support the community,” Dubois said.

Another important revenue stream besides the thrift store, is the generous support of the community. Officials say thousands of people throughout the Upper Valley help keep the services going year after year.