1st-responders eat up Yarmouth’s cheesy appreciation

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YARMOUTH — Handyman Ted scratched his head while photographing curds and whey. Along came a thought: what to do with the cheese after the end of the day.

That about sums up how 45 pans of macaroni and cheese ended up being delivered to three town agencies.

Ted Axlerod, who is also a commercial photographer, was working on a home-improvement project for Rebecca Rundquist when the two began discussing what he could do with two, 40-pound blocks of cheese he was photographing for Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.

“I knew that companies can’t do anything with food after it’s opened or handled and I don’t like to see it go to waste if it’s something I can’t keep,” Axelrod said.

So he decided to post the question on Yarmouth Community Network’s Facebook page and see what other residents thought.

The result, he said, was both “hysterical” and “wonderful.”

The post received more than 30 suggestions and replies, including delivering the cheese to various local shelters and food pantries. But it was ultimately Laura Coroi’s offer to make macaroni and cheese out of the blocks that took the (cheese) cake.

She and Carol Intravaia Austin spent Jan. 21 and 22 preparing and baking pan after pan of pepper jack macaroni and cheese in Intravaia Austin’s kitchen.

Throughout the day, they received an outpouring of encouragement and support for “Project Cheese” via Facebook and text message.

The following Monday, Axelrod, Rundquist, Coroi, and Intravaia Austin delivered all 45 trays to the town’s police, fire, and public works departments.

“It was a great way to give back to the community,” Austin said. “I was amazed by how many people answered the call with suggestions for what to do with the cheese … I’ve never seen a post of Yarmouth Community Network that’s taken on a life of its own quite like that.”

Coroi said they included the list of ingredients with each pan. The last ingredient listed was “love from our community to you.”

“I hate seeing so much food wasted,” Coroi said. “It felt good to give back to the first-responders.”

Fire Rescue Chief Mike Robitaille said the crews at the Fire Department were “thankful” and enjoyed the 15 trays they received throughout the week.

“In fact, we sent several of the trays to Freeport Fire Rescue, as we had so much,” he added. “It’s nice to be recognized by residents of the community and we appreciate their thoughtfulness in caring enough about our staff to do this.”

Because most food banks don’t accept prepared food, Rundquist said the second, 40-pound block of cheddar cheese was delivered to Preble Street in Portland.

“This says so much about what an amazing community Yarmouth is … the sense of community blew me away,” Axelrod said. “I never expected this to happen.”

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

Yarmouth residents Laura Coroi, left, Ted Axelrod and Carol Intravaia Austin delivered 45 trays of homemade macaroni and cheese to the police, fire, and public safety departments on Monday, Jan. 22.