FALMOUTH — Two police officers, an office administrator and a newspaper reporter walk into a supermarket.
No, it isn’t a joke, but the contents of the shopping carts are certainly funny: 33 cans of tuna, 30 bottles of shampoo, an entire cart of toilet paper, more soap than you can shake a night stick at.
This is how police officers shop, at least when they’re shopping for the Falmouth Food Pantry.
This year, to draw attention to the growing needs of those less fortunate in a town generally associated with the well-to-do, Falmouth police decided to pool their own money and purchase whatever the food pantry needed.
“They wanted to shed light on the food pantry this year,” Police Lt. John Kilbride said.
Kilbride said that occasionally the department receives donations from the public, often after a citizen receives a high level of service and wants to thank the officers. That money, he said, goes into a general fund that the department will sometimes use to purchase supplies for a barbecue or picnic.
This year, the department decided to donate the money, as well as individual donations from the officers – a total of $500 – to food and supplies for the pantry.
“Mostly this is the stuff people can’t get with food stamps,” Kimmerly Maxfield-Fearon, the department’s office administrator, said.
She contacted the food pantry and put together a list of items it needed – mostly items that people and businesses are less likely to donate, such as paper goods, cleaning supplies, shaving cream and razors.
Then, Maxfield-Fearon went to Hannaford in West Falmouth and priced out all the items to make sure the officers were getting the best deal. She made a very detailed list with the exact numbers and brands of each item. Then, Officers Kurt Fegan and Dean Mazziotti filled up three carts with supplies.
While the average single-family home value in Falmouth is just over $450,000, in the past year the number of Falmouth residents requesting general assistance has nearly doubled. The local schools have seen a steady increase in the number of children qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches, and the Falmouth Food Pantry, which opened in July 2008, now regularly provides services to more than 140 people.
According to recently released U.S. Census data, the poverty rate in Cumberland County in 2009 was 9.3 percent, lower than the national average. But that number represents more than 25,000 people, many of whom look to food pantries like Falmouth’s to supplement their supply of food and other items.
“We’re seeing more of this in Falmouth and the guys wanted to bring some attention to that,” Kilbride said.
Meanwhile, the two uniformed officers walking around Hannaford with three shopping carts received some stares, something the officers were clearly used to.
“We’re having a huge party later,” Mazziotti said with a chuckle when a woman in the checkout line asked why they were shopping. “No, really, this is for the food pantry.”
“Our food pantry?” the woman asked. He nodded.
“Oh good. They really need it,” she said.
Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Falmouth Police Officers Dean Mazziotti, left, and Kurt Fegan spend some time Thursday, Dec. 9, shopping at the Hannaford supermarket in West Falmouth. The officers, along with Police Office Administrator Kimmerly Maxfield-Fearon, purchased $500 worth of food and supplies to donate to the Falmouth Food Pantry. The money was a combination of donations from the officers and a general donation fund from the public.