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FRAMINGHAM – The day before Thanksgiving and scores of families were shopping for groceries in downtown Framingham.

But this market was different – all the food was free

Daniel’s Table holds a free market for families and individuals in need every Wednesday.

But yesterday, November 23, was different, besides groceries, each family got a Thanksgiving meal with a turkey or chicken.

“We’ll serve 150 households with an average family size of four,” said incoming Danile’s Table Executive Director Sandra Montesino, during an interview on Wednesday with SOURCE. “So about 600 people will get meals today. A small family will get a Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey and the sides provided by Jack’s Abby. And a small family will take groceries for the week, averaging 54 meals. A large family will have groceries for about 84 meals. We’re more than just a Thanksgiving meal here at Daniel’s table.”

And Daniel’s Table is more than a typical food pantry too.

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“We like to explain Daniel’s Market as a farm-to-bag shopping experience for our guests. Our guests get to come in, choose from all the fresh fruits and vegetables that we offer, high quality proteins They get to shop for healthy food that their family will eat. We also offer a soft education throughout the market with a cooking demonstration so that we can show our guests how to eat food they may not be familiar with. We also have a kids craft so that the kids craft we can introduce new foods and teach the young ones how to make healthier choices, healthier food choices,” said Montesino.

And Daniel’s Table is serving the diverse community with diverse foods.

“Right now we’re serving 62% of our registered guests are from other countries, mostly South America. So we’re actually trying to make sure that we’re culturally diverse in the foods that we offer,” said Montesino.

Unfortunately, the need for help is increasing in Framingham. Daniel’s Table serves only Framingham-based individuals, at this time.

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The “need has increased significantly. We’re up 44.4% from where we were last year at this time,” said Montesino.

“We’re seeing the new faces of hunger. We’re seeing more seniors we’re because of the fixed income and inflation, we, we wanna make sure they’re not having to choose between food and medicine or right now heat and medicine,” said Montesino..

“And we’re seeing more two parent working families that just need a little hand, a helping hand to get them through one car repair. A sports fee can set them back. Don’t put your grocery bill on a credit card. Please come to Daniel’s table. Let us relieve you of this bill so you can put it towards your rent, your heat, your gas, whatever you need,” said Montesino.

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Daniel’s Table takes registrations on hotlines in three languages – English, Spanish and Portuguese.

English & Spanish is 508-239-6690

English & Portuguese is 508-239-6691.

“Our clients will call the numbers and they’ll just do a quick intake and they’ll be able to receive the who they need and they can come in weekly, bimonthly, once every six months, whatever your family needs,” explained Montesino.

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The need can be long-term or short-term.

“We wanna help people, whether it’s long term or an interim need. If you are looking for food relief because you lost a job, then let me help you through that tough time until you’re back on your feet. Please know that we’re here for you. Please know that you can go about your day with the security knowing that we are here to provide you with food needs through, through various resources, through Daniel’s Farmer’s Market,” said Montesino

“It’s because of people’s generosity that we’re able to provide our community with such healthy food resources,” said Montesino. “I’m so proud that we’re not contributing to any waste, any free waste because we don’t have to give pre-made bags. We get to let the client shop and it’s such a more dignified experience. It takes the stigma away from going to a food pantry.”

The Daniel’s Table market is open Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.