BATH — The Bath Food Pantry, a longtime staple for community members in need, plans to open in a new location within the same building next month.
And thanks to the help of people like Steve Vachon and his electrical technology students at the Bath Regional Career & Technical Center, the pantry is saving quite a bit of money in the process.
The recent sale of the Neighborhood United Church of Christ had sent the food pantry, based there for more than 14 years, looking for a new home. But the New Meadows Childcare & Learning Center, which purchased the building in January after eight years of tenancy, is allowing the pantry to remain.
The pantry – part of the Bath Area Food Bank – is moving to the back of 150 Congress Ave., which should provide more private space for clients.
“We’ve always wanted privacy; we haven’t had that in the past,” Food Bank Executive Director Kimberly Gates said Monday.
Instead of being handed a box filled with items, users of the pantry will be able to “shop” for what they want, to a limit, in the grocery store-like new space, Gates explained.
“The day care’s been very generous as far as space goes,” she said. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without the day care.”
The new location, which will have a little more working space, will have a new cooler to store fresh fruits and vegetables, and dairy products. In addition to 13 freezers already in use, a new freezer will store frozen meats.
“This is better than jewelry, I’ll tell you,” Gates said, praising the Good Shepherd Food Bank for providing a grant that is getting the pantry the freezer for free.
All that equipment requires electrical wires to be brought into the new space, and new outlets installed, and that’s where Vachon’s crew has come in.
The students spent this week doing the electrical work, and since the pantry is only being charged for parts, the organization is saving about $1,500.
“There’s $1,500 of food they can give to people around the area,” Vachon said.
The pantry is “a nonprofit organization, and that’s what we do,” he said. “We help the surrounding areas. It will save them a lot of money, save them a lot of time, plus it (gives) our students some excellent on-the-job training.”
Inmates from a local community justice program are painting the space, charging only for supplies, and the building owner is doing the pantry’s flooring work at a reduced cost, Gates said.
She said she hopes the move to the new spot will take place April 11, with the pantry opening a few days later.
The Neighborhood UCC has been operating at a temporary site, the Minnie Brown Center at 906 Washington St., and plans to move downtown, according to its website, faithinbath.org.
Chris Stebner, a Lincoln Academy student enrolled at the Bath Regional Career & Technical Center, arranges electrical wires that run into the future home of the Bath Food Pantry. The work of Steve Vachon and his electrical technology students is saving the pantry about $1,500.