A family shops in the fresh produce section of the Gather Pantry Market in Portsmouth. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

A family shops in the fresh produce section of the Gather Pantry Market in Portsmouth. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Gather: on a mission to make sure no one goes hungry

For more than 200 years, this nonprofit has been innovating to meet community needs

A family is grocery shopping at Gather Pantry Market: A small child selects fresh peppers, her mother adds milk and eggs to the grocery cart while her grandmother chooses frozen chicken.

Eleven hundred families — most of them working families — get free food here each month. One in 10 people in New Hampshire experiences food insecurity.

“If you are raising three kids and making $12 an hour, that is not enough to get through,” says Deb Anthony, Gather’s executive director.

Gather recently changed its business hours to accommodate a shift change at a local retailer, so workers could make it in for groceries before the Pantry Market closed.

Gather was founded in 1816 as the Ladies’ Humane Society, and known until 2016 as the Seacoast Family Food Pantry. Hunger persists. The organization has evolved with community needs.

Gather’s “Meals for Kids” program supplies groceries when school is out, to replace the meals children get at school. The program also teaches kids to cook. Gather delivers fresh groceries, plus prepared meals (cooked in the nearby homeless shelter’s kitchen) to elders.

“We are always asking ‘how do we make this better? How do we reinvent this?’” Anthony says. Most of the food is donated from local stores and farms. People may take what they need.

One grocer donates flowers, along with produce. Each month, an elderly gentleman comes in. He takes only flowers, to bring to his wife.