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Bath food charities benefit from winter donations

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Bath food charities benefit from winter donations

BATH — Despite the first few months of the year being the toughest time for the Bath Area Food Bank to garner funds for those in need, area communities have been there to lend a hand.

"Many organizations realize that donations decrease after (Dec. 31) and we are thrilled that communities like Georgetown, organizations like the Knights of Columbus, Bath Rotary, Coastal Orthopedics and schools like Bath Middle School, choose to fundraise early in the year," Kimberly Gates, spokeswoman for Bath's food pantry and administrator of the Bath Area Mobile Food Truck, said via email last week.

"It is thanks to groups like these that we are able to meet the growing demand at the Bath Area Food Bank," she added, noting that more donations came in this year than in prior years, and more organizations have become involved with the cause.  

The Rotary Club of Bath and Bath Sunrise Rotary worked together Feb. 22 to hold a second annual "Stuff the Bus" event to raise money and donations for the bank, according to a recent press release from the rotaries.

Members of both groups collected donations at the Shaw's supermarket in Bath, filling a school bus that the Bath Bus Service donated with boxes containing perishable food items. The donations went toward fulfilling a wish list that the Bath Food Pantry provided.

The effort gathered 1,400 pounds of food donations – 500 pounds more than last year, according to the rotaries. Shoppers also contributed $865 in cash, coming in especially handy since the pantry can use every donated dollar to buy $7 worth of food from the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

The Rotary Club of Bath has also given the pantry a $1,000 check annually in recent years, according to the release.

The event was well organized, with plenty of volunteers, Gates said.

"Money usually stops as of Christmas," she explained. "So any funds that come in between Jan. 1 and July are essential to keeping food on our shelves."

"This is a great project for us because it meets an immediate need in the community, and gives people a chance to see Rotary in action," Bath Rotary Club President Will Neilson said in the release.

The Food Bank also benefited in January from a $100 donation from the West Bath Historical Society, Gates said, which went toward food purchases from the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

The non-profit food bank, which she said in January had experienced a 16 percent increase in demand since August 2013, has three components: food pantry, soup kitchen and clothing exchange. The bank served more than 200 families in December 2013, Gates said.

The food truck, which has been helping to make up for the recent loss of the clothing exchange by offering winter clothing, has been serving between 250 and 300 families on the last Tuesday of the month, Gates said in January. The truck has been at Grace Episcopal Church, 1100 Washington St.

Gates said via email March 1 that the Georgetown Community Center had recently held a potluck supper to raise money for the food truck. It raised $2,800 for food for nearly three food trucks.

"What an incredible community Georgetown is," she wrote.

The giving comes from the youths, too. Eighth grade students from Bath Middle School recently collected 100 jars of peanut butter for the bank, and are raising $1,500 to purchase food for a food truck, Gates said, adding that they will work the truck in May.

The bank serves Bath, Arrowsic, Georgetown, Phippsburg, West Bath and Woolwich. Those interested in donating can send food or money to the bank at P.O. Box 65, Bath, Maine 04530. Checks should be made payable to "Bath Area Food Bank." Nonperishable food can be left inside the front doors of the UCC church.

Log onto bathfoodbank.org for more information.

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