Food pantries in Washington and Charlotte counties are holding their own as the colder months of winter begin, and all are dependent upon the generosity of volunteers as well as financial patrons.
Eastport pantry to add hours
The Labor of Love Food Nutrition Center and Food Pantry in Eastport is so busy that plans are in place to add four hours every Friday afternoon to the present schedule, and volunteers are needed to make the idea a reality.
"Ideally, we would have a church or community group responsible for the volunteer work every other Friday," stresses Colin Windhorst, president of the Greater Eastport Ecumenical Churches Association (GEECA), which oversees the food pantry and nutrition center . "That's the key element." Anyone wishing to be a volunteer can call Patti Loring at 853-0023.
"We're helping around 180 households with about 750 people," says Windhorst of the food pantry. Volunteers stay busy "keeping the operation running smoothly," from stocking shelves, boxing up food, working on the community garden and conducting cooking and food preservation classes.
"We also have new kitchen assistant, Kristi Cilles, who will help Denise Harris. She can use fresh produce such as pumpkin and show people how to cook it. She even sends them home with recipe cards."
Calais pantry very busy
In Calais at the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry, Len Hanson reports it has been "very busy. We're up to 850 families who have registered, and they're from as far away as Danforth and Vanceboro down to Edmunds."
Forty to 50 volunteers help keep the food pantry running smoothly during the three days of the week it is open.
Much of the food is purchased from the Good Shepherd Food Bank, but it is supplemented by donations from community members and Shop 'n Save. "Those donations are down little from last year," says Hanson.
"We've opened a thrift shop, which is open five days week," he adds. "We try to stick to the same schedule, but it's all volunteer labor there, so that doesn't always work."
Generosity in Machias
Ken Varian has stepped down as coordinator for the Centre Street Food Pantry in Machias, and his replacement, Susie Maxwell, is also pastor of the church in which it is housed. "We're open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the number of people coming in for help is growing a little. We're helping over 100 households a week."
"I have seven dependable volunteers who are very faithful," she reports. "And I have a fluctuating but reliable base of volunteers who will help with everything from unloading food, stocking shelves to shopping for the food."
"The generosity of the Machias community is great," stresses Maxwell. "The personal financial donations we receive are unbelievable. We received over $3,000 in last week's mail. It really helps our church's mission to feed and clothe the poor."
Whiting pantry moves to Lubec
The Whiting Community Food Pantry run by Ann Sawtelle and her late husband Bill is moving from the Three Angels Seventh Day Church in Whiting to the former Lubec High School building, where it will be known as the Lubec Community Food Pantry. It will continue to be open on the third Wednesday of the month, but the new hours are 2 to 6 p.m.
"We are in the process of moving everything -- everything -- from Whiting to Lubec," reports Ann Sawtelle. "I'm placing one more order to Good Shepherd, but the food will be delivered to the new location."
Donations on Deer Island
Joyce Stuart is a longtime volunteer with the Deer Island food bank and at the end of 2015 says, "We're doing really great. We had a good number of donations over the holidays that included both food and financial gifts."
Ten Christmas hampers full of food were distributed around the island, "and we even had some ladies bake pies for that," reports Stuart.
She says the number of islanders seeking help at the food bank varies from one week to another, depending on issues such as unemployment compensation, but the Deer Island food bank generally serves seven or eight households.
Campobello group seeks members
Sally Newman, one of the six members of the Social Development Committee that oversees the Campobello food bank, reports everything is financially "excellent" at the end of 2015. "We made over $1,200 in our annual raffle, and we've been named the charity of choice in the 2016 marathon."
"We don't have a big population, so we serve about 10 households a month," she reports.
"I love what I do, and I wouldn't live anywhere else," says Newman of her work with the food bank. "If someone needs something, others will make sure they get it."
The Social Development Committee is looking for two new members, and the contact number for the committee and food bank is 506-752-1069.
Big hearts on Grand Manan
Janet Ingersoll is one of the Action Ministries volunteers who staff the Grand Manan food bank located in the Pentecostal Assembly basement, and she reports, "We've had a really good year. People are very generous and have big hearts."
"We had 70 boxes go out at Christmas that contained a turkey and other dinner items as well as some little odds-and-ends we put in," she says. "Home Hardware had a Christmas tree with tags that people picked up and bought gifts for about 50 kids. They brought the presents back to Home Hardware."
Locations and contacts
The Campobello food bank is located at the community building by the fire station on Bunkerhill Cross Road. Hours are Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 506-752-1069.
For more information about the Deer Island food bank, call Joyce Stuart at 506-747-2053 or Dawn Stuart at 506-747-2086.
The Grand Manan Food Bank is located at Action Ministries' Pentecostal Assembly basement, with the entrance on the left side of the door. Hours are every Tuesday and Friday from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, call Janet Ingersoll at 506-662-3286.
The Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry is located at 513 Main Street in Calais and is open weekly on Mondays from 3 to 5 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. until noon and Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information call Len Hanson at 207-214-8553.
The Labor of Love Nutrition Center and Food Pantry is located at 137 County Road in Eastport. Regular food distribution is on the second and third Tuesday of the month from 9 to 11 a.m. and every Friday from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.; emergency food distribution is available on the first and last Tuesdays of the month from 9 to 11 a.m. and every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Lubec Community Food Pantry is located at the former high school in Lubec and is open on the third Wednesday of the month from 2 to 6 p.m. Call 733-6113 for information.
The Passamaquoddy tribal food pantry has been moved from the tribal government building to the former transition house at Sipayik.