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Food pantries in South Portland see growing need

The South Portland Food Cupboard and Captain's Cupboard at SMCC provide hundreds of meals to families facing food insecurity.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — The Good Shepherd Food Bank and its community partners anticipate distributing more than 24 million meals in Maine this year. Much of that distribution happens at local food pantries in communities throughout the state.

"I will tell you right here from the grassroots, the need is increasing," Dwayne Hopkins, executive director of the South Portland Food Cupboard said.

An hour before the South Portland Food Cupboard opened up for distribution on Tuesday, more than a dozen cars were lining the street outside.

"It's real. It's real and it's hitting us hard in our local communities, your neighbors need your help," Hopkins said. 

On Tuesday, the cupboard provided meals for 77 families, which is the most they have ever served in a day. According to Hopkins, since the beginning of the year, the cupboard has seen a 92 percent increase in the number of families it's serving. 

"Nutrition is just the foundation for what they need to have to live a quality life," Hopkins said.

As the need for healthy meals continues to rise in South Portland, another local pantry in that community is noticing it too.

"I have friends that I didn't necessarily expect to be in need of that. They had jobs, room here on campus, but they still need our support from the captain's cupboard," Haden Buzzell said.

Buzzell is a student volunteer at Captain's Cupboard, a student-run food pantry on campus at Southern Maine Community College. With such a wide variety of students studying at SMCC, students volunteering at Captain's Cupboard say they've seen an increased need in recent months, and that everyone can face food insecurity.

"Every day through that door, all sorts of people, every type of different person comes in. We have people who can be as old as sixty, and people who can be as young as 18 come into the cupboard. And all sorts of backgrounds enter through these doors. And I think it's important all of them have their needs attended to," Buzzell said. 

NEWS CENTER Maine is partnering with Good Shepherd Food Bank to help put meals on the table for Mainers in need. 

Donate to NEWS CENTER Maine's Feed Maine Telethon here.

You can also call 855-875-4328.

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