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Drive-thru food pantry at NHMS supplies 334 families

  • CourtesyMembers of the New Hampshire National Guard teamed up with the New Hampshire Food Bank to put together a drive-thru food pantry at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday. Courtesy

  • CourtesyMembers of the New Hampshire National Guard teamed up with the New Hampshire Food Bank to put together a drive-thru food pantry at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday. Courtesy

Concord Monitor
Published: 5/10/2020 8:35:03 PM
Modified: 5/10/2020 8:35:01 PM

Motorsports may be on hold for now, but there was an auto-themed event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday – a drive-thru food pantry.

The New Hampshire Food Bank and the New Hampshire National Guard teamed up to bring the supplies and the manpower to distribute them to NHMS. The group effort wound up providing nearly nine tons of food to almost 1,2000 people.

“We’re all in this together, and one thing we have an abundance of here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is space,” said David McGrath, executive vice president and general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “When the New Hampshire Food Bank and New Hampshire Army National Guard pitched the idea of bringing their Mobile Food Pantry to Loudon, we jumped at the chance to offer space on our property to help our community.”

The drive-thru style allowed 334 families to obtain nearly 52 pounds of food each without getting out of their vehicles. They simply popped open their trunks at three different stations – perishables, non-perishables and meats – and members of the National Guard and Food Pantry filled up those trunks with boxes of food.

“I never thought I’d be able to do this in the National Guard,” said Brendan Johnson, specialist for the New Hampshire Army National Guard. “It’s a good feeling to be helping all the communities around us as a team.”

Eighteen members of the New Hampshire Army National Guard are on orders to assist the New Hampshire Food Bank through the end of May, and the Mobile Food Pantry is their main focus.

“We’re really happy to partner with New Hampshire Motor Speedway,” said Eileen Liponis, executive director of the New Hampshire Food Bank. “If the funding continues, we’re going to plan on doing these weekly, identifying pockets of need and going there.”

The New Hampshire Food Bank has brought their Mobile Food Pantry to Gorham, Colebrook and Loudon, and they’ll be in Plymouth on May 16.

Providing a location for the Mobile Food Pantry is the latest way NHMS has supported the Loudon community during coronavirus pandemic. The speedway has offered a place on the NHMS property for first responders to quarantine away from home; it has offered the town of Loudon access to the speedway’s Sunoco gas pumps for fueling essential equipment and vehicles if the local fuel supply chain is interrupted; NHMS has donated 800 rain ponchos for public safety workers to use as hospital gowns; and the State of New Hampshire Emergency Operations Center has secured space at NHMS for an overflow care facility and mobile testing site if the need arises.

Numbers update

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced 61 new positive test results for COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total of diagnosed cases in the state to 3,071.

There were 32 new cases in Hillsborough County (including 14 in Manchester) and 13 new cases in Rockingham County. Grafton and Carroll County each saw one new case.

The DHHS also announced two additional deaths in New Hampshire related to COVID-19, bringing the weekend total to 12 and the overall total to 133. All 12 of the people reported dead over the weekend were 60 years of age or older.

Vermont reported a state-wide total of 927 cases as of Sunday morning, an increase of eight from Friday’s total of 919. Five of those cases are currently hospitalized and there have been a total of 53 deaths.

Pagers for patients

Cottage Hospital in Woodsville has started to use pagers to help eliminate congestion in on-site waiting areas. The “coaster pagers” are similar to those used for patrons waiting to be seated or for to-go orders at a restaurant.

Patients still report first to the Main Entrance. They will then sanitize their hands, put on a face mask and get screened for COVID-19 symptoms. Then, if a health care provider is not ready to see the patient, they will be given a pager and asked to wait in their vehicle. When the health care provider is ready, the patient will be paged and then brought directly to the appropriate department to be seen.

Virtual convention

The New Hampshire Democratic Party became the first state party in the nation to hold its scheduled convention virtually on Saturday.

“It’s not exactly how I’d imagine convention would be — me alone in my office – especially when more than 10,000 of us met last year,” said Ray Buckley, the chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party as he opened the convention. “But despite or even especially because of the time we’re all living through right now, and the unprecedented challenges our country is facing, I knew we had to get together. Because there’s more at stake than ever before.”

More than 3,000 people tuned in to watch the convention while it was happening, and thousands more checked in on the video throughout the day.

Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams gave the keynote address.

“We’re fighting over whether voter suppression will become what we expect from our democracy, like so many failed states, or if we’re going to fight back and make sure that every voice is heard and that the values of those we speak for become reality,” Abrams said.

Recorded videos featuring Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Sen. Maggie Hassan, Rep. Annie Kuster and Rep. Chris Pappas followed Abrams’ remarks. Some official convention business also was attended to, including reports from the Resolutions, Platform, Credentials, and Rules Committees.

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