Yarmouth market's monthly cause is Cumberland food pantry

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CUMBERLAND — It’s a cause geared toward fighting hunger, while at the same time being a little kinder to the environment.

The Yarmouth Hannaford supermarket, which uses the company’s “Hannaford Helps” reusable bag program to support a different local cause each month, has chosen Cumberland’s Community Food Pantry as a beneficiary for August.

For every $2.50 bag a customer purchases this month, Hannaford will donate $1 to the food pantry. The bags can be purchased by each cash register.

Tom Gruber, the pantry’s president and a town councilor, was so enthusiastic about the initiative that he went out and bought an armload of bags. He encourages others to do the same.

“We’re all about the community,” Assistant Store Manager Francys Perkins said in an interview Aug. 8. Cumberland, Freeport and Yarmouth are three towns with organizations the store benefits.

“We have different days that we donate to each one of them,” Perkins explained. “We just want to make sure that we reach not only Yarmouth, because we’re in Yarmouth, but we have customers from Cumberland and Freeport, and we want to make sure that we support (those communities).”

Along with food pantries, animal shelters, schools and historical societies are among entities Hannaford has benefited, Grande said. The company also offers Fight Hunger boxes to support those in need during the holidays.

Since the “Fight Hunger” bag’s 2014 rollout, nearly 1,000 hunger relief organizations in New England and New York have been supported, with nearly $290,000 raised and more than 1 million bags purchased to date, according to newhannaford.bags4mycause.com. In turn, millions of plastic and paper bags have not been used.

The Yarmouth Hannaford expects to sell nearly 400 bags this month. When a customer has forgotten a reusable bag at home, or doesn’t have enough bags, the Hannaford Helps bag is offered as a cause-supporting solution, Perkins said.

“It benefits (our customers) in two ways,” Grande added. “A lot of them are pretty environmentally conscious, so they really lean toward using these reusable bags.”

Gruber is particularly pleased with the win-win situation.

“Hannaford has been terrific for us,” he said, praising the meats he has received for the approximately 100 families the pantry serves each month.

“If we have … a need, they’ll help us, regardless of what it is,” Gruber added.

The food pantry – more information about which is posted at cumberlandmaine.com/community-food-pantry – serves Cumberland, North Yarmouth, New Gloucester and Pownal residents. It is open from 3-6 p.m. the first, second and fourth Fridays of each month, on the ground floor at the rear of Cumberland Town Hall, 290 Tuttle Road.

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

The Yarmouth Hannaford supermarket has chosen Cumberland’s Community Food Pantry as a beneficiary from its “Hannaford Helps” reusable bag program this month. For every 50-cent bag a customer buys, Hannaford will donate $1 to the food pantry. Showing off the bags are, from left, assistant store managers Ben Grande and Francys Perkins, and pantry President Tom Gruber.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.