Bath food bank seeks help from City Council

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BATH — As the city this spring builds its budget for next year, the Bath Area Food Bank hopes to be kept in mind for funding, as demand grows for the pantry’s services.

“We need an angel; we need more than one angel,” Judy Smart, a member of the organization’s board, told the City Council on Wednesday.

Councilors also approved new union labor agreements, including a three-year pact with Police Department members.

The nonprofit city food bank has three components: food pantry, soup kitchen and clothing exchange, the latter of which lacks a home. The organization services Bath, Arrowsic, Georgetown, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich.

“This year the food bank took in $80,000; more than 90 percent of that amount was spent on food,” Smart explained, noting that in 2013 the pantry served more than 2,000 households with more than 6,400 people, an increase of about 300 households from the prior year.

“We expect that that increase will continue to grow,” Smart said.

She shared stories about some of the clients the bank has aided, including an unemployed, divorced man who has looked for work and lived in a car, and stayed there with his children when he had custody of them on weekends, and children whose families cannot afford to send snacks along with them to school, who suffer both from the lack of a nutritional boost, and from being labeled by their peers.

The bank provided food to the man, and healthy snacks to local schools for distribution for those in need, Smart said.

While the bank’s mission is to feed people, another malady the organization often faced, particularly after this harsh winter, was how cold its clients were; she said many would keep their homes at 40 degrees to save money on fuel. In response, the bank launched a campaign that distributed 700 blankets.

“What I have told you is about the present,” Smart said. “Now we are concerned with the year 2014. The times they are a-changing, and we must also change to meet the demand.”

Along with continuing its existing programs, the bank is seeking a home of its own, where it can house all three of its services in order to function more efficiently and effectively.

In other business, the City Council unanimously granted final approval to a contract between the city and its Police Department union. The three-year pact is retroactive to July 1, 2013.

The contract provides a 2 percent salary increase retroactive to the start of this year, and 1.5 percent increases in 2015 and 2016.

The council also approved a contract for employees in the public works and cemeteries and parks departments, and its water pollution control facility.

The panel also unanimously authorized issuing up to nearly $2 million in general obligation bonds to refund outstanding city debt. Doing so provides for a lower interest rate on that debt, and a cumulative savings of about $136,000, according to Finance Director Juli Millett.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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How to help the Bath Area Food Bank

Donations of food or money for the Bath Area Food Bank can be sent to P.O. Box 65,
Bath, ME 04530. Checks should be made payable to “Bath Area Food Bank.” Nonperishable food can be left inside the front doors of the UCC church.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.