Bath launches 'Walk for Hunger' food pantry fundraiser

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BATH — As the summer wanes and the holiday season approaches, Kimberly Gates is once again ramping up her efforts to provide food for Mid-Coast families in need.

Spearheading that initiative this year is the first “Walk for Hunger” event, with all proceeds aiding food-insecure residents of Bath, Arrowsic, Georgetown, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich. The event takes place at Library Park on Sunday, Sept. 11.

Co-sponsored by the Bath Savings Institution and an anonymous donor, the walk is organized by the Bath Area Food Bank. The organization feeds nearly 200 families each month through its 150 Congress Ave. food pantry, and produces more than 1,500 monthly meals at a soup kitchen at the First Baptist Church, 851 Washington St., according to Food Bank Executive Director Kimberly Gates.

The Food Bank also provides healthy snacks to all Bath schools, operates a miniature food pantry at Morse High School – with a second one being eyed – and supplies more than 400 holiday meals to the Regional School Unit 1 schools, as well as Georgetown and West Bath.

“We have to raise most of our budget from September to December,” Gates said in an interview Sept. 2. “That’s when the money seems to come in the best.”

Taking advantage of the popularity of fundraising walks – as well as the resurgence of the Pokemon game phenomenon – the Food Bank opted to use a 5K walk around Bath as a key fundraising vehicle. Each walker or runner is asked to raise or donate at least $25 to participate, with money due at registration Sept. 11.

Donations can be made through bathfoodbank.org, by cash, or by checks made payable to the Food Bank. Envelopes for donations can be found at Coastal Glass, 12 State Road, and sponsorship forms can be found both there and at the Bath Natural Market, 36 Centre St. Forms can also be obtained from Gates by emailing her at kfgates@gwi.net.

The walk starts at noon, proceeding up Washington Street and making a loop, with left-hand turns onto Park, High, and Court streets before returning to Washington Street and Library Park. To reel in younger participants, Pokeman Go “lures” will be set up at the beginning and end of the walk route.

Given that the walk will be the first for the Food Bank, Gates has set a minimum goal of $3,000, but hopes to receive more. If the goal is met, it would fund about three weeks worth of groceries Gates purchases for the pantry and soup kitchen.

“Our biggest-growing population … for at least the last four months, has been young families” with young children, Gates said. “And (in) most of those families, both parents are working.”

She often hears clients say they don’t come every month because other people need it more than they do.

“One of the things I tell them is, ‘I would rather you come, and give you that extra money to pay your electric bill so you don’t fall behind,'” Gates said. “‘If this helps, then come. … If you’re having issues, and food helps, then come.'”

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

The Bath Area Food Bank will hold its first annual “Walk for Hunger” Sunday, Sept. 11.

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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.