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Council OKs funding for Falmouth Food Pantry expansion

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Council OKs funding for Falmouth Food Pantry expansion

FALMOUTH — The Town Council on Monday unanimously approved funding to help expand the Falmouth Food Pantry.

The proposed $50,000 project will expand the pantry by 30 percent of its current size. The council anticipates receiving $39,200 from Cumberland County in the form of a community development block grant to fund the bulk of the project. The grant requires a 10 percent match from the town of $10,800, which will come from unassigned funds.

The pantry has seen a significant increase in demand over the past year. In January, for instance, it served 240 families, compared to 195 families one year earlier, according to the pantry's president, Dotty Blanchette.

In the first year of its six-year history, the charity served 35 families. Today, the pantry's 90 volunteers serve as many as 300 families in Falmouth and the surrounding communities.

Some of the increased numbers are due to a new partnership with Westbrook. Early this year, the pantry agreed to provide supplemental food to needy Westbrook families that aren't adequately covered by their town's safety net. The pantry had been serving Westbrook residents previously, but the partnership formalized the relationship.

That partnership formed the basis for the block grant application. Theo Holtwijk, the town's director of long range planning, said approval of the grant application is nearly certain. It was  ranked third out of 13 applications and, in March, the Cumberland County Municipal Oversight Committee recommended approval to the Cumberland County Commissioners.

If all goes according to plan, the project could begin after July 1. The pantry, which is housed at Town Hall, will expand inside the building, rather than growing the building's footprint.

Monday's vote was 6-0.

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.