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'Cooking for Community' expands to Lewiston

Boba is one of a dozen restaurants that are delivering ready to eat meals for Mainers facing food insecurity.

LEWISTON, Maine — A nonprofit that is feeding the needy and providing more than a dozen restaurants in the Greater Portland area much needed cash flow during the coronavirus pandemic has expanded to Lewiston.

"Cooking for Community" started in April with two restaurants and a few social service agencies. Now, the program is providing nearly 3,000 ready-to-eat meals to 11 different organizations.  

Every Friday, Boba Restaurant in Lewiston, which serves Asian-fusion cuisine, is preparing hot meals for 130 residents who live in the Lewiston Housing Authority. 

The program has raised half a million dollars, which is being used to pay restaurants to make and deliver meals—helping them make payroll during these tough economic times. Boba's owner hopes to increase the number of meals for people facing food insecurity beyond the pandemic.

"I set a goal for myself to raise $25,000 dollars for this area, that could stretch to 500 hundred meals for the rest of this year and beyond," Zach Pratt, the owner of Boba Restaurant said.

Ellie Linen Low is the organizer for Cooking for Community, which has provided more than 40,000 meals since early April. But restaurant owners have concerns as fall draws near. 

"They are terrified about what is going to happen September and October comes outdoor dining shuts down and the tourists leave," Low said.

The demand for meals is also expected to grow as unemployment benefits decrease and the homeless look for food and shelter from the cold.

The nonprofit is looking partner with more restaurants in both Lewiston and Auburn and possibly expand to the Mid-coast later this year. 

For more information and how you can donate to Cooking for Community, click here.

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