The Food Pantry program at Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program has had 7,700 visits in the first nine months of 2021. A number this large is hard to wrap your head around. As an agency we are used to dealing in thousands: Thousands of meals served, dollars raised, or pounds rescued. But we know that nothing conveys the importance of providing food like learning of its impact. In that vein, we want to share the story of Marc and Nicole, new visitors to our food pantry in 2020, and now dear members of the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program family.

When a friend told Marc and Nicole Smith about Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program’s food pantry, they were worried that their need wasn’t great enough. At the beginning of the pandemic, Marc, a disabled Navy veteran, left his job fearing exposure to COVID-19 at work. The subsequent drop in income made their finances tighter than usual when grocery staples were scarce for everyone.

A friend shared some groceries they’d gotten at Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program and encouraged Marc and Nicole to visit the pantry themselves; they started coming the next week.

“It was a way of making sure we had a little more food security” explained Marc.

The Smiths, who have been married for 16 years and are expecting their first child at the end of October, have been coming ever since.

They have perfected new recipes and connected with staff and volunteers.

“They’re the most kind-hearted, warm, welcoming people,” said Marc. “They’ve gotten to know us and our dog and the fact that Nicole’s pregnant — they hear that little bit about you and they want to engage you as a person.”

“They remember that information that you share with them,” added Nicole. “And I love sharing stories with them too. It makes you feel better about going to the pantry … they made me feel welcome.”

Since coming to the food pantry regularly, Marc and Nicole have been able to pay off some of their bills and are saving up for a second car, which will be especially important when the baby comes.

“We’re in a better place now because of it,” said Nicole, “You can save money on your grocery bill then afford to fix your car or whatever you need. It just helps out a lot.’”

Just as a friend shared the experience of going to the food pantry with them, Marc and Nicole have passed that knowledge on.

“You don’t keep the secret,” said Marc. “You share it so more people can benefit.”

Thank you to Marc and Nicole for sharing their story to spread the word about our services to community members for whom they could make a difference. As we enter another winter in Maine, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program reminds you that we are here with a warm meal, a grocery box, Thanksgiving staples, and more. Questions about our services can be directed to [email protected]

Ariana van den Akker is the communications coordinator at 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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