College to sponsor new food pantry in Standish

Saint Joseph's College is sponsoring a new community food pantry that will open on Wednesday, April 23 at the Steep Falls Fire Station in Standish. A grand opening celebration will include a chili supper at 6 p.m. on April 23. Bags of food will be distributed from 6 to 8 p.m. that evening and every subsequent Wednesday during those hours.

The college's Office of Campus Ministry, in partnership with the Town of Standish and the college food vendor Bon Appétit, worked to establish the pantry, which will be called "Catherine's Cupboard."

Rebecca Hilton, director of Campus Ministry, says pantry organizers will sponsor ongoing community food drives. "We are really committed to helping people who are at risk of going hungry," she says. Nationally, 36 million Americans are at risk and more than 10 percent of rural families worry about having enough food for their children.

Stuart Leckie of Naples, a member of the pantry planning committee and general manager of Bon Appétit, says he will make college leftover meals available to the pantry. Those meals will be packaged, frozen and delivered to the pantry freezer.

Other pantry co-sponsors include Hannaford Supermarket in Standish, which will donate food and bags, and Rippling Waters Farm in Standish, which will donate fresh vegetables in season.

Donations of canned or nonperishable goods will be accepted at the fire station between 6 and 8 p.m. each Wednesday. Other donation drop zones will accept food at any time and include the Hannaford supermarket in Standish, the Standish Town Office and the Campus Ministry Office at the college.

Anyone needing food assistance should come to the fire station on April 23 to receive two bags of food. Standish residents are given first priority, but no one will be turned away. In June, when federal food allotments kick in, the food pantry will serve residents of Cumberland County at large. Households can use the pantry once a month.

Mary Chapman, the Standish town clerk, and Sherry Allen, the town bookkeeper, also served on the planning committee, along with Allyson Joy, who coordinates the college's service learning program, Lynn Brown, who is dean of students at the college, and Joe Lee, president of Saint Joseph's College. The town has donated the space for the food pantry and town councilor Terry Christy and town manager Gordon Billington also served as liaisons to the town. James Hulit of Standish donated carpentry services for the renovations.

Hilton says a grant from the Andrew and Helen McSween Endowment to Campus Ministry made possible the renovations to the fire station meeting room for food storage and distribution. The grant will also pay for a person to supervise the pantry and coordinate volunteers. The pantry will operate as an independent nonprofit entity.

Saint Joseph's student volunteers will be available through the college's service learning program, but the pantry is also looking for community volunteers.

The name Catherine's Cupboard was chosen in honor of Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy. The Sisters established Saint Joseph's College in 1912, and one of the order's key ministries is to serve people who suffer from hunger and poverty.
For more information or to volunteer at the pantry, call 893-7790. The Steep Falls Fire Station is at the corner of Boundary Road and Middle Road, not far from Route 113 (Pequawket Trail).

April 8, 2008 Contact: Charmaine Daniels at (207) 893-7723 or e-mail cdaniels@sjcme.edu