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Cherryfield Food Pantry Interview

Pictured Left to Right: Wendy Harrington, Bonnie Johnson, Gena Norgaard

The Weald Bethel Food Pantry is located at the Downeast Campus just off Route One in Cherryfield, Maine. It is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m to 12 noon as well as 3:30 p.m to 5 p.m on Tuesdays.

Wendy Harrington, the Mission Service Program Director for the Downeast campus of the Maine Seacoast Mission, spoke with us about the involvement the Cherryfield Food Pantry has in their community.

The Maine Seacoast Mission has been working in the area since 1905 to address needs and provide resources within the community. This project wasn’t land based until 50 years ago, previously having operated via boat The Sunbeam and served coastal and land communities, Harrington informed.

Food insecurity is an increasing issue in the Washington County. One in four kids in Washington County are at risk for hunger and living at poverty level, as well as 60% of kids that receive free or reduced school lunches in the district are at risk for hunger. Seniors are the second highest risk group for hunger, and are also the least likely to reach out for help. Although seniors are more likely to reach out to the government for assistant, they are less likely to visit a food pantry.

15 years ago, in 2002, the EdGE program was created by Ed Greaves and aimed to bring “innovative after-school, summer, and in-school programs to children along the Downeast coast from Gouldsboro to Machias,” according to Maine Seacoast Mission Website. One of the best ways to instigate change is via the youth and that is one of the things the EdGE program seeks to accomplish. EdGE also has a backpack program, which provides kids with a bag of food that they receive at school to bring home.

The Downeast Table of Plenty (DETOP) is another program the Maine Seacoast Mission runs and provides free lunch every Sunday at the Edge Center, located at 7 Weald Bethel Ln, Cherryfield. Another program that

has a large impact on the community is the Housing Rehab Program which repairs, weatherizes and updates homes so they are safe, warm and dry for families.

The Maine Seacoast Mission has 500 volunteers that work throughout the summer and out of that 300 volunteers are from the Housing Rehab Program. Cherryfield food pantry only has four paid positions, and still, according to their website, served more than 4,000 individuals last year who had an immediate need for food. The average age of volunteers in Cherryfield pantry is 65 years old, which creates difficulties with volunteer work such as physical and technological work. This creates the need for youth volunteers even more demanding.

If you would like to volunteer or donate you can find more information on their website seacoastmission.org.