WESTBROOK — Westbrook Families Feeding Families will move from its organizer’s garage into official operating space this month, thanks to a donation from a local business.

Goods donated to Westbrook Families Feeding Families are delivered directly to local families or are taken to schools for distribution. Courtesy photo

Westbrook Market owners reached out to the nonprofit group’s organizer, Sue Salisbury, to offer 1,000 square feet of space in its building at 28 Stroudwater St. The space was part of the market’s redemption center, which the owners closed during the pandemic and have no plans to reopen.

We could have rented it out, but we wanted to give back to the community more,” co-owner Maryanne Alhamdany said Wednesday. 

Salisbury hopes to move all operations there by the end of the month.

Started by Judy Petrie and her church group about a decade ago to provide peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for students in need during school breaks, Families Feeding Families is now headed by Salisbury, Petrie’s daughter, School Committee chairperson and District 35 state representative.

“We went from serving just peanut butter and jelly through the schools to where we are now, and we now have the space to grow more, too,” Salisbury said.

“This will be big in helping us get food to more families,” she said. “We’ve had to turn down donations because of space, but we will be able to receive and give more, as well as have a pickup location for people, too.”

The group serves about 30 families a week on average, providing 60-80 bags of nonperishable groceries, up from 30 bags per week at the start of the pandemic, taken care of by five or six active volunteers.

Patriot Subaru of Saco manager Brian Beattie, a Westbrook resident, left, presents a donation of $1,475 to Westbrook Families Feeding Families organizer Sue Salisbury. Chance Viles / American Journal

In the past, the group worked with school social workers to determine how many bags of peanut butter and jelly sandwich supplies would be needed for school breaks and it also brought donations to food pantries at the middle and high schools. It now delivers canned soups and fruit, macaroni and cheese, and granola bars, for example, directly to families.

She is working on partnerships to introduce fresh produce to the group’s offerings.

“The timing for this is great. People are in need and we want to help,” Salisbury said.

Also this week, Patriot Subaru of Saco donated $1,475 raised in a weeklong fundraiser to Westbrook Families Feeding Families.

“Hearing about some of what the group has been doing, this was one of my first choice,” said Patriot manager and Westbrook resident Brian Beattie.

The monetary donation will go directly to the purchase of food.

To receive help from Westbrook Families Feeding Families or to provide assistance, contact Salisbury through the group’s Facebook page.

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