Bath food pantry reopens on Middle Street

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BATH — The Bath Area Food Bank reopened this week on Middle Street.

The Knights of Columbus, which had been the sole occupant of 807 Middle St. since the building’s construction 50 years ago, is moving to St. Mary’s Church, 144 Lincoln St.

The food bank, in turn, held its final distribution at its longtime 150 Congress Ave. location July 19. It closed for two weeks until the scheduled Middle Street reopening of both its soup kitchen and food pantry on Thursday.

The soup kitchen is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon-1 p.m. The food pantry’s doors are open to its clients the same two days, 5-7 p.m.

The pantry will also now be available to students and caseworkers at separate hours Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2-4 p.m., Executive Director Kimberly Gates said Wednesday.

Moving took place July 23, aided by volunteers including Bisson Moving & Storage, which provided its services for free.

Fresh paint adorns the exterior and interior. “We had to do a lot of electrical work … we’ve had to do a great deal of plumbing, (and) built walls,” Gates said.

Remodeling “cost a lot more than we thought it would, walking through the door, to get it up to code,” she said, declining to say how much was spent.

The food bank, which paid $225,000 for the Knights building, spent a dozen years saving for the down payment, and had to take out a mortgage for the rest, Gates said last month.

One side of the building houses the pantry, and the other will be used for storage. The soup kitchen will operate out of a rear dining room.

The feeling of the food bank finally having a headquarters it owns was “actually a little surreal right now” because it had been desired for so long, Gates said.

“I’ve been with the organization for 16 years, and I know I’ve wanted it for 16 years,” she explained. “So to see it actually come to fruition is pretty amazing.”

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

Kimberly Gates, executive director of the Bath Area Food Bank, shows off the food pantry portion of the organization’s new 807 Middle St. headquarters.

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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.