'Concerts with a Cause' help support Portland, Freeport food pantries

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FREEPORT — The L.L. Bean Concert Series has reached its halfway mark, but there are still opportunities to help hungry families this summer by bringing canned food or donations to the remaining concerts.

Throughout the series, L.L. Bean has encouraged concert goers to donate canned goods, non-perishable food items and money to the Wayside Soup Kitchen and the Freeport Community Center. 

Each Saturday through Sept. 6, visitors can enjoy the free concerts at 7:30 p.m. in Discovery Park. This Saturday, Aug. 15, the Wallflowers will perform. 

Janet Wyper, L.L. Bean’s manager of community relations, said people have supported the local food pantries by donating between $100 to $300 a show. She said momentum has picked up since the first few concerts, but the non-profit organizations could always use more help. 

“The Wayside Soup Kitchen in Portland and the food pantry at the Community Center in Freeport are so thankful for the help and contributions,” Wyper said. “Hunger in Maine is a reality, and maybe people don’t think about it as a problem in the summer months.”

Wyper said Bean usually promotes holiday food and coat drives for children and families in need in the winter, but this year wanted to promote the necessity of family food needs in the summer as well. 

“Some children rely on their school’s hot lunch program for a daily hot
meal,” she said. “In the summer, without school, some kids don’t get a hot
meal a day. It is a very real situation for children in Maine.”

Susan Violet, Wayside Soup Kitchen & Food Rescue project manager and volunteer coordinator, said the concert series has brought “much more than music
to the ears of the thousands of music fans who flock to the L.L. Bean
Freeport campus each Saturday night throughout the summer months.”

She said the food drive during the concerts is a great way to address hunger relief for local families while enjoying world-class musical performances. 

“L.L. Bean
has generously partnered with the Wayside Soup Kitchen & Food Rescue to address a current and
escalating social concern of feeding hungry people in our community,” Violet said in an e-mail. “We
like to think of it as ‘Concerts with a Cause.'” 

Violet said Wayside Soup Kitchen collaborates with many community partners to ensure children without school lunch subsidies, elderly residents living on a fixed incomes, and families suffering from the economic downturn can all receive the food and help they need. 

Wyper said people who cannot attend the concerts, but would like to participate by giving food or donations, can drop off items from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. the day of each show. She said there will be a tent on the patio in front of the L.L. Bean entrance.

“These concerts are fun for everyone, and is a great opportunity for us to  heighten awareness about hunger in Maine,” she said. “It is important that we educate our visitors and
residents, collect food and funds for those in need, and enjoy ourselves this summer.”

For directions and a concert schedule visit llbean.com/freeport on the Internet.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net.