Saint Joseph's College has opened a community food pantry in Standish named "Catherine's Cupboard," in honor of Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy. The Campus Ministry office, the Town of Standish, and the college food vendor Bon Appétit worked together to establish the pantry, which opened in April.
"We are looking to bridge the gap that occurs for families toeing the poverty line," says Rebecca Hilton, director of Campus Ministry. "Residents of Standish, like all Mainers, have felt the impact of rising food and fuel costs, and it doesn't take much to put many families into food insecurity."
Volunteers from the college and the town have helped to make the pantry a success by giving their time and donating food.
Pantry organizers will sponsor ongoing community food drives at Saint Joseph's College, schools, churches and civic organizations. According to the Good Shepherd Food Bank, more than 40 percent of Maine children under the age of 12 show some evidence of hunger, and one in three jobs in Maine does not pay enough to cover the basic needs of a family of three.
"This kind of community effort benefits everyone - those in need of food and those in need of opportunities to be generous," Hilton notes.
Allyson Joy, coordinator of the college's service learning program, Lynn Brown, dean of students, and President Joe Lee served on the planning committee, along with members from the town office. Saint Joseph's students, staff and community members volunteer at the pantry, which operates in donated space at a fire station.
Stuart Leckie is a longtime supporter of the pantry idea. As manager of Bon Appétit, the college's food service, he also served on the pantry planning committee. Now he makes sure leftover meals from the dining hall are packaged, frozen and delivered to the pantry freezer. Other pantry co-sponsors include Hannaford Supermarket in Standish, which donates food and bags, and Rippling Waters Farm in Standish, which donates fresh organic vegetables. The community gardeners on campus also expect to donate 10 percent of their harvest.
A grant from the Andrew & Helen McSween Endowment to Campus Ministry funded renovations to the fire station for food storage and distribution, as well as a part-time position to run the pantry and coordinate volunteers. The pantry operates as an independent nonprofit entity.
Food recipients are welcome to sit and have lemonade and cookies, as the pantry is also meant to be a welcoming place, in accordance with the emphasis that Sisters of Mercy place on hospitality. One of the order's key ministries is to serve people who suffer from hunger and poverty.
For more information about the pantry operation, call 893-7790 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.