ALFRED — Food Rescue of York County, which has helped supply more than 45 food pantries and meal kitchens throughout York County over the past several years, is closing its doors, the nonprofit’s board of directors announced on Sunday.

“It is regrettable,” said Karen Boisvert, chairwoman of the board of directors in a statement. “And a sad day for so many. But when the Maine Department of Agriculture chose not to renew our 2016 TEFAP contract that was 45 percent of the food we distribute, and then most recently the Shaw’s warehouse in Wells moved their frozen food operation out-of-state, from whom we got 30 percent of our foods, we knew we had an uphill battle to replace these losses.

“Ultimately we could not, and, with monetary donations down as well, it was decided that we were no longer viable and would need to close our doors.”

TEFAP stands for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, a federal agriculture program funneled through the states.

Boisvert said the closing was immediate.

The York County government, which has donated space for the food rescue agency for the past three years, hopes to continue with a similar program, said County Manager Greg Zinser this morning.

Efforts to reach Boisvert and others connected to the food rescue program this morning were unsuccessful.

Food Rescue of York County, formerly York County Food Rescue, has struggled over the past several years.

In October 2014, the agency faced a temporary closing because there was no cash on hand with which to operate. At that time, the agency had plenty of food, but was cash poor – so cash poor that the agency couldn’t register their truck, Director Jodi Bissonnette said at the time. She put out the word, and donations began flowing in.

In 2013, the agency, which had operated out of a warehouse in a former mill on Jagger Mill Road in Sanford for several years, was looking for a home when the building was sold. At that time, York County government stepped in to offer the use of a vacant building. Under the arrangement, the county donated the space, and the agency paid its own utilities.

Boisvert said the board of directors is working to discontinue the 501(c)3 organization in the coming weeks and months. She said that since 2008, Food Rescue of York County has been instrumental in providing more than 1 million pounds of free food annually to more than 45 food pantries and meal programs in York County.

“We got a letter on Wednesday,” said Carol Cail of the Sanford Food Pantry. Cail said she isn’t sure what is next – the Sanford pantry got a regular allotment from the food rescue organization.

“I was made aware late last week that something (was) happening, but I have nothing from the board advising me of their intentions,” said Zinser, the county manager.

He said the county is working with a similar agency to continue with a similar program, and hopes to have a plan within a few weeks.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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