MAINE, Maine — The Good Shepherd Food Bank truck makes it's way to Bethel once a month to deliver much-needed food that is distributed to community members in western Maine.
"My question in the beginning with the food pantry is always not 'what do you need for today' but 'what do you need for the month,'" Dave Bean, the director of the Bethel Food Pantry, said.
Bean said they are currently serving 150 families a month. Instead of opening once a month to accommodate the needs of the community, they are currently opening once a week on Wednesdays.
Volunteers at the pantry who are 60 years of age or older were told to stay home, as they are considered a high-risk population.
"No client is allowed out of their car, they just stay in the car and we load it over the trunk," Bean said.
"Surprisingly we get a lot of meat which is really expensive at the store," said one of the benefited residents from Bethel.
But the efforts of Bean and his entire team are going way beyond the Bethel pantry.
"Everybody in the Bethel area knows each other so, when this happened early on, a whole bunch of us got together and created this thing called BANRU, which is the Bethel Area Neighborhood Response to COVID-19," Bean said.
A group of local restaurants, including Sunday River Resort, Maine West, the Good Shepherd Food Bank, United Way, and the Bryant Pond 4H camp came together to purchase, package, and deliver needed food for the Andover, Canton, Dixfield, Peru, Rumford, and Mexico food pantries.
Dave Bean and his team reached out to the River Valley pantries and asked what they needed for food. Bean partnered with Sunday River to secure transportation to get the food to these pantries from Bethel to Andover.
"As most people in Maine are apt to do, especially in western Maine, they always just say they're fine...yeah we are good! And then we talk a little bit more and ask..but could you use some flour, sugar, maybe tuna? And then suddenly they say okay that would be good," Bean said.
Bean said they are positioned to help every family that needs a box of food.
The NEWS CENTER Maine telethon Thursday will help get more food boxes in the hands of those that most need it.