Food pantry dependent on volunteers, donations

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Care and Share Food Closet volunteers Frank Fiester, Jillian Schangold and Carroll Thomas help distribute fresh produce to Good Shepherd Food Mobile clients in Farmington on Wednesday, Oct. 10 (Dee Menear/Franklin Journal)

FARMINGTON — The Good Shepherd Food Mobile was in town Wednesday, Oct. 10, to supply emergency and supplemental food to under-served community members.

Volunteers from Care and Share Food Closet in Farmington prepare to distribute food to Good Shepherd Food Mobile clients on Wednesday, Oct. 10. (Dee Menear/Franklin Journal)

Many volunteers were on hand to help with the distribution, which took place at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall. By the time volunteers were in place and ready to begin dispersing food, a long line of food recipients snaked along Middle Street.

“We have a lot of needy clients,” said Care and Share Food Closet co-director Dana Bullen. “By and large, our people don’t gain anything on the system. They are truly needy.”

By the end of the day, 226 people were served by the Good Shepherd Food Mobile.

“Previously we have always had the food mobile come to our food closet, but this year our host for the food mobile event is the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. It is our hope that through this change to a downtown location, we will be able to reach out to people of the Farmington area who may lack transportation,” said Care and Share Food Closet Executive Director Leiza Hiltz Scerbo.

Wednesday’s food distribution was funded by a grant through the Doree Taylor Foundation.

University of Maine at Farmington students Jillian Schangold and Emily Kelley help distribute fresh produce from the Good Shepherd Food Mobile on Wednesday, Oct. 10. (Dee Menear/Franklin Journal)

The Care and Share Food Closet is the biggest food pantry in Central Maine, said Bullen. It serves residents from the towns of Farmington, West Farmington, Farmington Falls, New Sharon, Chesterville, Temple, New Vineyard, New Portland and North New Portland who meet federal eligibility guidelines for food insecurity.

“We have 1,400 clients on our rolls. Each month, we serve about 300 families which represents 800 of those clients,” Bullen said.

While the food closet provides a three to five day supply of food once a month, the food mobile provided a supplemental supply of fresh produce, and perishable and non-perishable food items to those in need.

The pantry, located at 508 Fairbanks Rd, is open Monday through Friday noon to 2 p.m. and Saturday 9 – 10 a.m. Recently, the food pantry extended its hours to include Monday evenings, 5-7 p.m.

“We are trying to reach out to the working poor so they don’t have to take time off work to get food. We found clients were taking long lunch breaks to visit the pantry,” Hiltz Scerbo said.

Bullen said the food closet runs with the help of more than 140 volunteers.

“No one on the staff is paid. Everyone is a volunteer and because we are all volunteers, we are united with a common goal. We work very well together,” Bullen said.

Bullen said volunteers were always needed at the food closet.

“We have a job for everyone. Whether it is picking up tomatoes in Madison, sweeping the floors at the food pantry or inputting data on the computer, we can always use help,” he said.

The food closet is dependent on donations from the public, Bullen added.

For more information about Care and Share Food Closet, call 778-0508. To donate or volunteer, call Bullen at 860-0352.

 dmenear@thefranklinjournal.com

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