Hannaford Supermarket contributed to a new van for the Biddeford Food Pantry. Courtesy photo

BIDDEFORD — In 2019, the Biddeford food Pantry knew they needed a new van. Their 2005 van barely passed inspection
and it wasn’t going to pass in 2020. In the spring of 2020, the inspection date was approaching and the pantry started to plan fundraising to purchase this essential item.

Don Bisson, the pantry president, contacted Lori Hamilton, the vice president of Hannaford supermarket as the company had been very generous to the pantry in the past, and Hannaford came through again.

Bisson, with the guidance of pantry driver Jerry, started looking for a new van that would suit the ever growing needs of
the pantry. The pantry recycles so much cardboard that sometimes it would take two trips to the transfer station to get rid of it all in one day. The pantry needed a van that would be larger than their previous one so that volunteers could be more efficient.

In addition, Bisson said in an email, “Since the pandemic started, we’ve seen a 23% rise in clients.” He said about 720 people use the pantry each month, which is up from 600 per month during the same time period last year.

“We see all age groups and cultures come to us for food before and during the pandemic,” he said. “I hear so many stories. ‘I lost my job and I never came to a food pantry before.’ Some people cry.”

“Thankfully with the support of our community we have been able to feed everyone.”

Business and community support came through to help pay for the pantry’s new van.

Not only did Hannaford come through, so did Arundel Ford. When Bisson approached Arundel Ford about purchasing a

Biddeford Food Pantry purchased a new van from Arundel Ford. The car dealership sold the van at a bargain price and also contributed to the purchase. Courtesy photo

van, not only did the owner, Peter Madore, agree to sell the van Bisson selected at a bargain price, Madore also agreed to donate a generous sum toward the purchase. Donors from the Biddeford community made up the difference and thanks to all the pantry has a brand new van that is tall enough to stand inside, illuminated with LED lights, and a back up camera as well as other amenities.

“Thank you to Hannaford, Arundel Ford and to all the people that help the Biddeford Food Pantry with their generosity,” Bisson said.

Bisson said he hopes people will continue to be generous as more fundraising will be needed to feed more people than ever this year. Because of people struggling as a result of the pandemic “we need more money to buy more food to feed more people,” he said. “We’re going to need to fundraise more through Thanksgiving and Christmas because we need more money to feed additional people.”

The Biddeford Food Pantry, located at 162 Elm St. in Biddeford, is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m.
Everyone is eligible, even though it’s a Biddeford pantry it provides food to people from all over the area. Those who visit will be asked for their name, address, phone number and email so they can contacted if they forget something.

 

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