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'Black Bear Exchange' food pantry helps UMaine students, faculty and staff during COVID-19

Nearly 70 UMaine family members have used the food pantry these days. There is no income requirement and no application process.

ORONO, Maine — On a typical spring semester at the University of Maine (UMaine) in Orono, the campus is bustling. But this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, campus looks a little different.

"Obviously with what's going on right now with our campus being shut down, our dining halls are not functioning the way they will normally be," Lisa Moran,  the coordinator of the Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism at UMaine in Orono, said.

That's why the Black Bear TO-GO food pantry is open, even though the rest of the campus is closed. TO-GO because it has a new online ordering system that allows drive-through pick-up.

"So that we can pre-package it, nobody has to come in the building, and then they can come down and pick up the items already put together," Moran said.

Moran said, "Right now we think we are serving about 75 students and couples out in the community."

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They are feeding Mainers thanks to a key partnership with the Good Shepherd Foodbank.

UMaine faculty wants students to focus on their books and not the source of their next meal. Hilltop is the only dining hall on campus that remains open.

According to UMaine, there are currently 291 students remaining in residence halls on University campuses due to extenuating personal circumstances.

"We are opened seven days a week, brunch and dinner, and we also have coffee service in the lobby," Glenn Taylor, the Director of Dining Services at UMaine, said.

Hilltop is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

"A lot of students that are still living in the area may have lost their job, we employ a lot of students and right now we don't have work for them," said Taylor.

The Black Bear Exchange food pantry says there is no income requirement and no application process, just present a valid MaineCard. Currently, the food pantry has an online ordering system for the Black Bear Exchange that allows drive-thru pick-up to practice social distancing.

Thank you to everyone who has assisted us with serving our students,... staff, and faculty members during this time! We appreciate everyone who has volunteered, donated, and assisted us with making this happen!

NEWS CENTER Maine currently running a campaign to help the Good Shepherd Food Bank distribute meals and provide food to Mainers. Your donation can help families receive greatly needed food boxes during these COVID-19 days.

Here is the link to donate.

The Good Shepherd Food Bank anticipates a significant decrease in donated food, they are seeing an increase in requests to provide more meal boxes.

Funds donated will be used for immediate needs, and provide essential support during these COVID-19 months.

At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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