SCARBOROUGH — During the pandemic, many people are finding themselves struggling to feed their families at this difficult time, an increase in need that has once again inspired St. John Paul II Parish (St. Maximilian Kolbe Church, Scarborough; Holy Cross Church, South Portland; St. Bartholomew Church, Cape Elizabeth) to act.

“40 Cans for Lent” is an initiative organized by the Knights of Columbus that asks parishioners and community members to donate canned goods and packaged food during the 40 days of Lent, spanning from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday. Those wishing to participate simply bring food to large collection barrels posted in the narthex (lobby) of each church.

In 2019, the three churches combined to donate nearly 6,700 pounds of food, while in 2020, despite the initiative ending quickly due to the pandemic, around 3,000 pounds of food was collected.

All the proceeds from the “40 Cans for Lent” collection in Scarborough, South Portland, and Cape Elizabeth are donated to the South Portland Food Cupboard, which was started in 1997. The pantry and its dedicated volunteers operate out of a warehouse on Thadeus Street. In non-pandemic times, students at Holy Cross School in South Portland often assist the volunteers with organizing donations and stocking shelves. For more information on how tohelp the food cupboard or for distribution schedules, visit or call (207) 874-0379.

“40 Cans for Lent” originated in 2011 in Helotes, Texas. Dennis Chaput, a financial secretary for a local Knights council there, said the idea of a simple, straightforward one-can-per-day donation, inspired by Christ’s 40 days of fasting in the desert, came to him in the middle of the night in September of 2010. The program has now spread to councils and parishes across the country.

For more information about “40 Cans for Lent” at St. John Paul II Parish, call the parish office at (207) 883-0334.

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