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Nutrition assistance program for cancer patients and survivors in Eastern Maine

"We've been here five days a week providing nutrient-rich grocery packages for cancer patients and their families after their appointments," says Matt Dexter.

BREWER, Maine — A partnership between the Christine B. Foundation and the Brewer Area Food Pantry is providing bags of healthy foods to cancer patients and survivors.

It's a relatively new food assistance tent located just outside of Northern Light Health Cancer Care in Brewer.

"Anyone that's in active treatment, has a patient living in their home or is a recent cancer survivor qualifies for this support," says the founder of the Christine B. Foundation Matt Dexter.

"Down on the coast where we have the majority of our fields we did e... nd up having a decent crop, but 15 miles away up in Orland we had at best 50% crop that all dried up and the drought really affected them," says Simeon Allen, the general manager at WR Allen, Inc.

"Since the end of March early April, we've been here five days a week 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. providing nutrient-rich grocery packages for cancer patients and their families after their appointments," says Dexter.

Cancer patients need to eat lots of fruits, whole grains, proteins, and nutritious-rich items, all of which are provided for free at this food assistance tent.

"Going into 2020 we knew we wanted to focus on nutrition assistance and we had the modest goal of helping maybe a couple dozen families with one dozen meals throughout the whole year," says Dexter.

In the last four months, the Christine B. Foundation's nutrition assistance program has served almost 20,000 meals to about 300 cancer patients all across Eastern Maine.

The Christine B. foundation also offers drop-off food services to cancer patients living in Piscataquis, Penobscot, Hancock and Washington Counties.

Working with teams, like those at Northern Light Cancer Care, allows... us to provide immediate nutrition assistance within the cancer community. Do you need support? Contact your patient advocate, navigator, or call us directly at (207) 517-0256. We're here for you.

"It's interesting how this service provides grocery packages, but we also quickly learned that this isn't just a pick up site, or a drop off of a grocery package, it's a non-clinical environment of hope, compassion, and community," says Dexter.

Cancer patients and survivors can stop by any weekday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

This effort happens thanks to many partnerships, one of them with the Brewer Area Food Pantry. The pantry provides boxes with fruits, vegetables, protein, whole grain food items, eggs, bread, cheese and a lot more healthy food items for cancer patients to take home after their appointments. 

This initiative is giving cancer patients and their family members one less thing to worry about.

Herman Fortin has esophageal cancer and is getting chemo treatments at the cancer care facility. Fortin tells NEWS CENTER Maine this nutrition assistance program makes a big difference.

"For a person like myself, I am very accepting of the help that I can get, it's going to be a long road financially, so every little bit helps and I can't say enough about the Christine Foundation," says Fortin.

It's a low-barrier service to anyone affected by cancer in Eastern Maine.

For Brian Ross, one of the volunteers; it's more than a service... it's an entire community of support.

"You can develop a sense of camaraderie, and as people come up you are able to connect with them because we have something in common. I can talk about food and I'm also a patient, so I can also speak with them from that perspective," says Ross.

"I wrote them a thank you letter that when I brought some stuff home because I really do appreciate it and it's something I don't take for granted," says Fortin.

To learn more about the Christine B. Foundation click here.

If you need food assistance the Brewer Area Food Pantry has extended its reach to serve residents outside of Eddington and Brewer. You can contact them at 989-3200. 

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