Denise Corbett, center, finishes unloading donations from her car with the help of volunteers at the Westbrook Families Feeding Families food drive Saturday. Chance Viles / American Journal

Westbrook Families Feeding Families had its first food drive at its new headquarters last weekend to benefit a growing number of local families dealing with food insecurity.

The nonprofit serves 31 Westbrook families, up from about a dozen pre-pandemic, by delivering 60-80 bags of supplemental groceries once a week. Many of the additional families are staying in motels, which points to a growing need in the city, said Sue Salisbury, who leads the organization.

Tammy Gross and other volunteers unload donations at the food drive Nov. 20. Chance Viles / American Journal

More than 40 people bearing groceries and nonperishables stopped by the headquarters at the Westbrook Market Saturday and packed the pantry shelves.

“People really turned out and I thank them for that,” said Salisbury, who is also a member of the local school board and a state representative for Westbrook.

About 14% of Maine homes are considered “food insecure” and 37% of them do not qualify for food assistance programs, according to Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine. Groups like Westbrook Families Feeding Families help fill the gaps.

Donations have been on the rise, along with the items provided. Where once just the makings for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were stored in Salisbury’s garage, the organization now also offers mac and cheese, fruit cups, breakfast bars, pasta and sauce, soups and canned vegetables. It also provides meals that don’t require refrigeration or stoves, given the lack of cooking resources for families living at motels.

Volunteer Tammy Gross shelves donations at the Westbrook Families Feeding Families pantry Saturday. Chance Viles / American Journal

“Since it’s grown, there have been more opportunities to help and it’s been great,” volunteer, donor and board member Denise Corbett told the American Journal Saturday.

The group was originally started by Salisbury’s mother through a church group to help out students who needed additional food over school breaks.

During the pandemic, Salisbury expanded the program’s clientele to include families.

“These donations will get us through the end of the year, but we run on donations and will hold more drives soon,” she said.

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

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