John and Cheryl DeAngelo, the husband and wife leadership team behind Daily Bread Food Pantry in Milford, are people of faith. Twenty-seven years ago, the couple led an initiative to organize area churches and explore a common solution to the problem of hunger in their community.
“We were ready to work together on this one, the only problem is we didn’t have a building,” says John DeAngelo, who serves as the President of Daily Bread’s Board of Directors. “I prayed, and I said, ‘Look, if you think this should happen, you’ve got to send us a sign.’ Then, one day, sure enough, there was a knock on the door.”
DeAngelo was approached by a local contractor committed to helping him secure workable space for the pantry. “[The contractor] made it happen. A couple of months after that, he died. He was my sign.”
The pantry has operated continuously since, with support from private donors, area businesses, non-profit foundations, and the Worcester County Food Bank (WCFB). DeAngelo says about half the pantry’s existing inventory comes from WCFB and reaches some 350 families, over 1000 people, in Milford, Hopedale, and Upton each month.
Weekly distribution is made possible thanks to the collective effort of nearly 150 consistent, committed volunteers. “I’m not even counting in that the number of kids who want to help. They come, too. In all this time, we’ve never had to go looking for volunteers. The volunteers are just there,” says DeAngelo.
During the winter months, a grant from the Hopkinton Country Club Charitable Foundation enables the pantry to purchase winter coats for pantry visitors. Says Cheryl DeAngelo, Daily Bread’s Pantry Manager, “We want people not to have to go all over the place when transportation is already an issue and to have their needs met. We know it takes a lot of courage just to come here.” So the pantry provides new winter coats, about every other season, to those in need.
Says Cheryl DeAngelo, “Some of these people have worked their whole lives. They have mortgages. They’re just trying to get by. Maybe their health is fragile. Or they are kids or seniors or taking care of kids or seniors. They say things like, ‘I don’t know what I’d do without the pantry,’ and – to be honest with you – I don’t know what they’d do either, especially in winter.”
John DeAngelo points out the print of Jesus he’s mounted in the pantry’s entranceway. His faith, he says, serves as the underpinnings for his work in hunger relief. “We keep that there as a reminder: It could be Jesus himself walking through that door, and we need to show everyone who comes here the same kindness we’d show him.”
Daily Bread serves people in need of food assistance, irrespective of religious background, each Tuesday and Thursday evening from 6:00-7:30 p.m.