In-A-Pinch Non-Food Pantry in Biddeford is looking for new space and is temporarily on hiatus until a new location can be found. Courtesy Photo

BIDDEFORD — The volunteers who operate In-A-Pinch Non- Food Pantry had hoped that by now, they’d have a new location where clients could pick up toiletries, cleaning products and baby items, among other things — necessities that some Biddeford and area residents just don’t have the money to buy.

The organization is looking for new space — donated space, they hope — big enough to store inventory and serve clients. For now, however, the volunteers have packed up and temporarily moved the inventory to a storage unit because Seeds of Hope, at 35 South St., in Biddeford, where they’ve been located since the beginning, needed more room to serve its clients.

In 2018, volunteers at the non-food pantry that dispenses toothpaste and shampoo, laundry detergent, wipes, diapers and more served 1,514 families. Of the total, 1,272 of the families live in Biddeford; the rest live in 14 other municipalities, said In-A-Pinch Non-Food Pantry board Treasurer Pauline Loranger. The volunteers donated 1,742 hours to the cause in 2018.

The pantry has been in operation since 1996. Right now, however, it is on a hiatus.

There have been some offers of space, but none have panned out, and so the hunt continues.

“We’re temporarily closed,” said In-A-Pinch Non-Food Pantry board Secretary Tina Giacullo. “This is the first time we’ve had to close.”

Clients have been informed the pantry will be unavailable for at least a month, she said.

“They’re scared, “said Giacullo. “Some have been coming to us since the beginning.”

Biddeford’s In-A-Pinch Non-Food Pantry is looking for a new home. Board chair and co-founder Marie Clark-Colman, left, and Tina Giacullo, board secretary and volunteer, are sh0wn here in a file photo. The nonprofit has temporarily closed until a new space can be located. Ed Pierce/ Journal Tribune file photo

Clients and others have been advised to watch the organization’s Facebook page for updates.

The pantry’s board of trustees is  hoping to be open in new quarters soon — hoping some entity will step forward with an offer.

The pantry is funded through grants and donations. All of the funds go to buying products that the clients need. Volunteers do the shopping. Organizers hope someone will provide them with a free space as spending money on rent would mean less available funds to buy the products, Loranger said.

Giacullo was a parent in 1996 when Head Start teacher Marie Clark-Colman and the late Charlotte Bourgault, a Head Start social worker, started the pantry.

“People would come to Marie and say ‘I cannot afford diapers, soap, detergent,’” said Giacullo. She said the two obtained funding and space, and opened the pantry, dispensing items that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — known as the food stamp program — doesn’t pay for.

Clients may visit once a month, up to eight times a year and may take up to 10 items per visit.

Clients include families with children, people with disabilities, senior citizens, and those without a roof over their heads.

Volunteers ask clients for proof of residency as a record-keeping method. Giacullo said clients are welcome from across the region.

“You walk through the door and you need something, we will help you,” she said.

Those who have space to offer may call Clark-Colman at 283-1258.

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