BANGOR, Maine — In these challenging times for so many people, buying food is not as simple as it once was, and many food pantries are seeing more hungry Mainers.
The Hammond Street Congregational Church in Bangor has run for 46 years the Ecumenical Food Cupboard. Back in the day, they used a "come-in-and-shop" food pantry for people to choose what they needed, but due to the ongoing pandemic, the cupboard is providing healthy hefty boxes of food to any Mainer in need. Now, boxes of food are passed through a window every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
The Bangor Ecumenical Food Cupboard is supported by seven local churches and by the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
Families here can get a 60-pound box of food once a week.
Rita Worster is the director of the Ecumenical Food Cupboard at the church, she says the number of food-insecure families has spiked, going from serving 100 to now almost 300 families a week.
Worster says that's why volunteers are here to help, "because the people need the food, and if we weren't here there would be so many people that were hungry."
"I can remember when I was growing up...we had some food, but not really a lot, it sort of scared me growing up... and I said to myself when I was younger if I can do this when I'm older I will," says Yvonne Addington, floor manager at the food cupboard.
Boxes of food can include fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, pasta, bread, canned goods, legumes, toiletries, baby items, pet food, snacks, and even a surprise bad with goodies inside like chips or cake!
Worster says no questions are asked and anybody including residents from out of Bangor can stop for a box of food.
"If you need one, we will have one for you," said Worster. "A lot of people lost their jobs, and a lot of people that have never had to access help before have come out."
"They come, they get their food, they leave, so, people are a lot more comfortable that way," added Worster. "We have baby items, formula, diapers, wipes, and occasionally we get pet food, so we have that."
Chris Porter works for community health and counseling services in Bangor, since the pandemic hit he and other caseworkers for the city have been stopping by to take boxes of food to people who can't get to the pantry and have a mental illness.
"We noticed that there were a lot of people that weren't getting out to get food," said Porter. "They seem to really appreciate it."
Worster says there are three ways to donate to the Food Cupboard: food, money, and volunteering.
- Food— canned soup, pasta sauces, tuna or hamburger helper, canned fruit, peanut butter, cereals, powdered milk, crackers, small sizes of ketchup, relish, cooking oil, and so on.
- Money— Any donation is welcome. Every dollar that we receive can buy up to six pounds of food, which translates into about eight meals.
- Volunteering—Volunteers may work with our clients at the window or bag food for them. A commitment may be as little as once a month or as often as once a week.
Hours of operation at the Ecumenical Food Cupboard are every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm.
If you would like to volunteer and help assemble much-needed boxes of food for community members in need, you can contact Rita Worster at 942-8651 during operation hours or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information can be found here.