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'It puts the community in community college': Students helping students at SMCC food pantry

The Captains Cupboard on Southern Maine Community College's South Portland Campus helps provide meals to roughly 100 students and their families each week.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Food insecurity is a major issue across Maine, impacting communities all across the state. College campuses even feel that impact too. To try and tackle that, students at Southern Maine Community College work to make sure that nobody on campus goes hungry. 

"It is just an all-access student resource," said SMCC student Liam Woodworth-Cook. He's the current chair of the Captains Cupboard. It's SMCC's student-run food pantry.

"Fill up a box, they can fill up a bag and just take it," said Woodworth-Cook. All you need to utilize this resource is to be an SMCC student. Those visiting the Captain's Cupboard are able to pick up fresh fruit, bread, meats, canned good and more. The pantry even offers pre-cooked meals made by culinary students at the school. 

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"It puts the community in community college," said faculty adviser to the community cupboard Kathryn Stannard. 

Stannard has been the adviser to the cupboard since it's inception in 2013. For nearly seven years, she's seen students at SMCC step up to the challenge of leaving no student hungry.

"It's incredibly inspiring that this number of students that caring and that dedicated to helping their fellow students," said Stannard.

All students who volunteer at Captain's Cupboard come from different backgrounds. Some students, like Christina Lebel were drawn to the group after experiencing food insecurity growing up herself.

"As soon as I saw the captain's cupboard, I knew that this is a mission that fit in my heart and I wanted to be a part of giving back, just the way people gave back to me while I was younger," said Lebel.

Now she's helping provide meals to more than 100 students and their people each week. "You see the thanks, you see the gratitude, and the volunteers that come in are so grateful to do the work," said Woodworth-Cook. 

Captain's Cupboard also opened the Sunset Shelf, where students are able to grab non-perishables and fresh fruit on the go, or if they may be uncomfortable using the cupboard itself. 

SMCC's campus is Brunswick has also opened it's own Captain's Cupboard there.