Bath food pantry relocating to Middle Street

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BATH — After providing for those in need for more than 30 years, the Bath Area Food Bank will finally have a permanent home at 807 Middle St.

The Knights of Columbus, which has been the sole occupant since the building’s 1968 construction, is moving to St. Mary’s Church, 144 Lincoln St. The KC’s first meeting at the church will be Sunday, July 8, right after the 9:30 a.m. Mass, according to member Bob Turcotte.

The food pantry will hold its final distribution at its current 150 Congress Ave. location on Thursday, July 19, and close until reopening on Middle Street Thursday, Aug. 2, according to Executive Director Kimberly Gates. The hours will remain the same – 5-7 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday – with a goal of opening the soup kitchen in mid-July, depending on how long remodeling takes.

Moving is to take place the week of Monday-Wednesday, July 23-25. Those willing to lend a hand can reach Gates through the pantry at 737-9289.

The move will serve as a homecoming for the soup kitchen, Turcotte said in an email June 15.

“The original soup kitchen was started in our building by one of our members, Jerome Hoschen and his wife Joyce,” he wrote.” Over the years the soup kitchen has had several host locations, but it will finally come back to its place of origin. We are sad that the Knights has been unable to grow, but delighted that the building will be used for a food bank and soup kitchen rather than be torn down and the space used for a parking lot.”

The 2014 sale of the Neighborhood United Church of Christ at 150 Congress Ave. had sent the food pantry, based there for more than 14 years at the time, looking for a new home. But the New Meadows Childcare & Learning Center, which purchased the building in January 2015 after eight years of tenancy, allowed the pantry to remain.

A new and improved food pantry opened within the same building in April 2015.

The food bank’s lease was due to expire in May 2019, but the learning center allowed the agreement to be broken early in order to facilitate the move, a grateful Gates said.

The food bank is paying $225,000 for the Knights building and was due to have a closing date this week. The organization has spent a dozen years saving for the down payment, and will have to take out a mortgage for the rest, Gates said.

“We were always hoping that this (move) would happen, without having to do a huge capital campaign,” she explained.

Fortunately, while the rent at its current location has been $1,500 a month, the Food Bank’s mortgage will be about $1,000.

The new space will be a little smaller than what it now occupies, but having its own home will allow the food bank to increase programming, she noted.

“To be able to do anything we want, in our own building, will be very nice,” Gates said.

“We’re very excited; any food bank would want to have their own building,” she added. “This is beyond anything we ever expected this soon.”

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

The Bath Area Food Bank plans to relocate to 807 Middle St. in Bath, long occupied by the Knights of Columbus.

Kimberly Gates, executive director of the Bath Area Food Bank, stacks the pantry shelves in this 2014 photo.

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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.