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Cumberland food pantry ready to aid those in need

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Cumberland food pantry ready to aid those in need

CUMBERLAND — The Community Food Bank, which opened its new headquarters at Town Hall last month, is looking to serve more families in need.

The pantry, currently serving about 25 families in Cumberland, North Yarmouth, Pownal and New Gloucester, gave out about two dozen turkey baskets for Thanksgiving. Forty turkeys were donated, so the remainder were frozen and saved for Christmas.

"I want to ... be able to reach more families in the Cumberland/North Yarmouth area that I know are out there," Town Manager Bill Shane, one of the more than 65 people who volunteer at the pantry, said last week, noting that he doesn't want those in need to perceive turning to the bank as a bad thing.

"It's very, very difficult for people to take the first step," he said. "... People have a lot of pride."

With Town Hall closed on Fridays, the day the food bank is open, there is much less activity around the building, allowing food bank clients a greater measure of privacy. The pantry is at the back of the building, on the ground floor, in what had previously served as two garage bays.

With its walls stacked with a variety of items, and refrigerators and freezers, the food bank resembles a mini grocery store.

"Folks that are ... struggling to make ends meet, and have been ... underemployed as well ... we really would encourage them to come in," Shane said. "And folks that are struggling with providing meals for their kids ... there are a lot of good things that we have had donated, and can buy here at the pantry, that would assist these families as well."

The pantry stocks not just food, but also everyday staples, including toilet paper, toothbrushes and laundry detergent.

Shane said those who know people in need of assistance should let the food bank know. "Even if you have to go shop for them, please do it as a friend," he said.

He added that "many people are one paycheck away from being downstairs and in line for this, and we want to be there as a safety net. We don't want people to go hungry when we have the ability to help."

The pantry is open from 2-6 p.m. Log onto cumberlandmaine.com/community-food-bank for more information.

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