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Winthrop food pantry helps hundreds of people in need during the COVID-19 crisis

The food pantry is serving 250-300 people a month from Winthrop and Wayne, but they are running low on stock.

WINTHROP, Maine — The need for food assistance is growing throughout Maine in the days of COVID-19.

In two Kennebec County towns, Wayne and Winthrop, families are getting increased access to the help they need to better feed their families.

The Winthrop Food Pantry is open every Thursday.

"It's been really helpful to me and my family through this whole crisis," Winthrop resident Natasha Strong said.

The Winthrop food pantry is currently seeing a 35% spike in visitors and community members requesting boxes filled out of food, which are pre-made ready-to-go boxes prepared by volunteers. 

Another Winthrop resident, Dana Sherman, said the food pantry is a way to help when you don't enough money or you're not working because you're not an essential worker.

According to the organizer of the pantry,  JoEllen Cottrell, only 15 volunteers are working different shifts to help prepare the much-needed boxes of food. Before the outbreak, they had more than 50 volunteers helping, but now because of the health crisis and social distancing guidelines, only a total of 15 volunteers are helping many get the food they need. 

Unfortunately for the Winthrop Food Pantry, the food supply is drying up.

"And that's what we are waiting for," Cottrell said. "So we have a pretty good back-stock here, but we are not able to replenish the things that we're running out of."

Cottrell and the volunteers are doing what they can for residents so they can still get the same amount of food for about five or six days.

"About 40% of our food we purchase from the Good Shepherd Food Bank, that includes donations from them—we get 1,000 [pounds] of fresh produce every month...that is free to us," Cottrell explained.

The Good Shepherd Food Bank says due to COVID-19, food insecurity in Maine could increase by as much as 39% this year.

That means people across the state will not have access to enough nutritious food, they may have to skip meals, or they will mostly eat unhealthy foods.

"Being of a lesser income...there's a lot of people that are in need and for a place like this to be open is really beneficial to those lesser income people," Strong said.

Community members are encouraged to donate canned goods and any food items they have to help others in their community in need. 

If you want to help the pantry call or if you need food assistance call (207) 377-3332 or email winthropfoodpantry@gmail.com.

On Thursday, May 7, NEWS CENTER Maine will have its annual 'Feed ME' telethon. All of the proceeds will go to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

RELATED: NEWS CENTER Maine's 2020 Feed Maine Telethon to help stop hunger in Maine during the covid-19 pandemic.

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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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