OLIVER KELLER, age 5, left, and Max Keller, 8, meet George Mitchell at Wednesday’s MCHPP ceremony. The Brunswick boys presented Mitchell with a picture they made.

OLIVER KELLER, age 5, left, and Max Keller, 8, meet George Mitchell at Wednesday’s MCHPP ceremony. The Brunswick boys presented Mitchell with a picture they made.

BRUNSWICK

Work will soon be underway on a $500,000 expansion project at Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program.

The expansion is needed because MCHPP has, in recent years, seen an 80 percent increase in food pantry visits and a 40 percent increase in meals served at the soup kitchen.

 

 

Speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony

Wednesday, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, said he’s a proud supporter of MCHPP.

“Whatever one’s view of the world, of politics or otherwise, we all share a common humanity and, as Americans, a common pride in our society — a society which I believe cannot and will not leave anyone — especially children — hungry,” Mitchell said. “This program does meet a real need and all of us have to do two things: We have to support this program and others like it around the state and, at the same time, we must work to change those aspects of our society that make it necessary for so many people to depend … on programs like this.”

Construction, which will add 40 percent more square footage to the Brunswick facility on Union Street, is slated to begin in April.

Last year, more than 47,000 meals were served in the program’s 40-seat dining room, according to Executive Director Karen Parker.

MCHPP offers nine different programs out of its Brunswick facility, along with satellite locations throughout the Midcoast. That includes backpack and school pantry programs that provide food to hundreds of students and their families.

“The work that we do to reduce hunger in this community is really currently limited by our building space,” Parker said.

The new square footage will provide food storage and office space and a waiting space for clients that is out of the elements.

Lily Pearmain, a client of MCHPP, spoke about her personal experiences with food insecurity. Pearmain said that among the services her family has received, the most influential and beneficial has been MCHPP. Still, having been raised with food insecurities, Pearmain said there remains in her mind, a stigma attached to the assistance she receives.

“Food insecurity isn’t just about being hungry. For me, at least, there is a sense of shame when I swipe my EBT card. Am I ashamed to be ensuring my children have the building blocks to nourish their growing bodies and minds? No. However, every time I take that blue EBT card out of my wallet, it’s hard to not feel like I’m back in the school lunch line, sheepishly handing my blue ‘free lunch’ ticket to the lunch lady, while the more affluent kids snort and snicker behind my back,” Pearmain said with a trembling voice.

However, Pearmain said that thanks to programs like MCHPP, her children are unaware of food insecurity and can enjoy fresh, local and organic products on a regular basis. In addition, MCHPP volunteers give her daughters — ages 4 and 5 — positive role models to emulate.

MCHPP has already raised $425,000 toward the project, but is asking for donations to complete its goal. Donations may be made online at expansion. mchpp.org or by calling (207) 725-2716.

[email protected]timesrecord.com

GEORGE MITCHELL addressed a packed room at the Brunswick Downtown Association breakfast on Wednesday, covering many topics. See story, page A2.


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