January 24, 2011

Coalition looking to fill more Mainers' plates

Six nonprofit groups hope to generate more funding for food pantries and push for policy shifts.

By John Richardson jrichardson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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20110121_Donna Yellen
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Donna Yellen, advocacy director, Preble Street: “We’ve seen the longer lines (of hungry people) and the decreasing food.”

Gordon Chibroski

Some Mainers, especially the elderly, are less likely to seek help, whether through federal food supplements or from soup kitchens, according to local agencies.

Wayside, a Portland-based nonprofit, is providing meals in five locations around the city, and will soon add a sixth, to reach seniors and families with children, said Susan Violet, its executive director. Wayside also has mobile food pantries to get food to seniors and disabled adults.

"We're filling gaps," she said. "We're finding lots of demand."

Families that receive federal food supplements often need more help.

"We've got kids, and food stamps don't last through the whole month," said Jason Fudge, who lives in Portland with his girlfriend and their two daughters, 6 and 4 years old.

Fudge, who used to work as a truck driver, said he has been out of work with a back injury and recently had surgery.

The family receives $600 a month in food supplements, he said. Once that is spent, they turn to food pantries and soup kitchens to feed themselves and their girls.

"You just got to know all the different resources out there," Fudge said. "If you plan it right, you can make it" through the month.

"When I run out of milk, we mix the (dried) milk for the girls," said his girlfriend, Beth Brown. "I don't like it, but the kids don't mind it."

Living in downtown Portland makes it less difficult for his family than for some, Fudge said. "If you don't have a vehicle and you live in those rural areas, it's pretty hard on them."

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:



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