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Improved community food pantry to open in Cumberland

News

Improved community food pantry to open in Cumberland

CUMBERLAND — With four times the size and double the days of operation, a new community food pantry pegged to open Nov. 2 is expected to be a boon to patrons and volunteers alike.

The new pantry will be at the rear of Town Hall, on the ground floor, and will be open each Friday. Its hours are expected to be 1-4 p.m.

An existing pantry, housed beneath the sanctuary of Cumberland Congregational Church, has been in operation since the 1980s. But Tom Gruber, a Cumberland town councilor involved in coordinating the new pantry, is among those who feel the current space is far from ideal – it's only open two days a month, and requires patrons and volunteers to navigate a set of steps.

Gruber praised the church for providing a space to help those in need, but noted that the new location will make access easier, have more space, and – thanks to refrigeration and freezers – will be able to expand the pantry's offerings.

Gruber said he and Town Manager Bill Shane approached the church board about the matter, and that the group agreed with the plan to move the pantry "to a  location that could be more supportive."

The new site was formerly two empty garage bays. Gruber noted that despite being based at Town Hall, the pantry will be a community effort, with several area churches involved. Volunteers are sought for jobs such as serving clients, stocking shelves, shopping, and picking up food.

With the added space and access increasing the user-friendly nature of the pantry, Gruber said he is confident that the facility will attract more demand and more donations of food.

The new pantry will follow a model similar to the Falmouth Food Pantry, which has helped the Cumberland version become established. Along with those two towns, the pantry will service North Yarmouth, Yarmouth, Freeport and Gray.

"Anybody that can make it there," Gruber said.

Those who lack the time to be involved directly can supply the pantry with food or monetary donations. Contact Gruber at 781-4613 or tgruber@maine.rr.com for more information.

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