Kevin Conroy, left, board member of the South Portland Food Cupboard, and Jim Welch, warehouse manager for the food cupboard.  Catherine Bart photo

SOUTH PORTLAND — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, not only has led to economic chaos, but has led to a spike in the need for food. The Food Cupboard has seen a huge demand for the number of people needing the pantry and the demand for donations has increased. The Food Cupboard has seen a 60 to 65-percent increase in recipients just this year. 

According to Dwayne Hopkins, executive director at the South Portland Food Cupboard, during the early stages of the pandemic every food pantry across Maine saw a significant decrease in recipient attendance. Many people were afraid to leave their homes due to the COVID-19 scare. 

“We deal with a vulnerable population, the senior adults, people of color, every demographic that were considered the extremely vulnerable and that’s who food pantry’s deal with is the vulnerable population and they were told to stay home, and they did,” Hopkins said. “Things have then stabilized and what we have seen from last year to this year is a 64-percent increase in people coming to the food cupboard for food. We do distribute to the Quality Inn and several of the hotels but that 64 percent increase is just recipients that have come back.”

Several small local businesses work with the food pantry including the Cookie Jar, Two Fat Cats, Rosemont Bakery and others. The Food Cupboard pantry was founded in 1997 to help those that are facing food insecurity. The number of volunteers has increased by 25 percent this year and there’s also been an increase in monetary donations that help stock the pantry. The Quality Inn, which is currently housing asylum seekers and unhoused members of the community, receives an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 pounds of food per week. 

“We are between 10 to 15 tons of food a week is what we bring in and distribute. 60 percent of our foods come in via Food Rescue through Hannaford,” Hopkins said. “We get some government food that comes in and we get food donations that come in. So, the other 40 percent would be government food, food donations and food that we purchase.”

The South Portland Cupboard is open weekly for donations Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to noon. To donate, volunteer or for more information, visit 

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