October was a record month for Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. We served 1,119 families through the food pantry, which is an increase of more than 300 from the previous month.  We also gave out 7281 meals in the soup kitchen and served 275 families through the mobile pantries.

The fall and winter are MCHPP’s busiest months, even during a normal year. With the impacts of COVID-19 on the community being increasingly felt, that is more true than ever. As shown by the record numbers of food pantry visits in October, we have been seeing the need in our community grow significantly this fall. In colder months, heating and electricity bills go up, which leaves less money for food and other necessities. On top of these annual challenges, COVID-19 still continues to impact households’ ability to buy food through unemployment and furloughs, medical expenses, and other unexpected costs.

As the rate of infection in Maine continues to rise, as it is across the country, MCHPP is adapting to keep our staff, volunteers, and clients safe. Our food pantry and soup kitchen have continued to operate in a walk- and drive-through format. We are also still hosting mobile pantries at the Harpswell Town Offices and Lisbon High School parking lots as drive-throughs. Any visitors to the pantries and soup kitchen are welcome to pick up for family, friends, and neighbors when they come to get meals and grocery items. Due to the mask mandate, we ask that everyone wear a mask when they come to pick up food, even when in your vehicle. If you don’t have one with you, we are happy to provide one for you to wear.

November is shaping up to be a similarly record-breaking month to October. In the first three weeks of November alone, we have served 797 families through the food pantry. In addition, the food pantry distributed  572 Thanksgiving bags from November 2nd to November 24th. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, MCHPP has been distributing bags full of items to make a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. They included fresh produce such as potatoes, butternut squash, onions, carrots, and sweet potatoes, stuffing and gravy, and a $10 gift card for buying a turkey or other protein for the meal. We hope that everyone is able to have a wonderful Thanksgiving, even though it may look different than past years.

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program offers dignity and empowerment by providing all members of our community with access to healthy food. Services include prepared meals, grocery distribution on-site, at local schools, and satellite locations in Harpswell and Lisbon Falls. The MCHPP food pantry – located at 12 Tenney Way, Brunswick – is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesday evenings 4-6 p.m.; and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m.; the Soup Kitchen serves freshly made to-go meals on Mondays–Fridays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 1:30 p.m. MCHPP is a recipient of the Service Enterprise Certificate, in recognition for its strong volunteer base who work six days a week to ensure that our neighbors are well fed.

For more information please visit www.mchpp.org.

Caroline Daigle is the program coordinator for Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local non-profit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community.

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