Wayside Food Programs gave 100 people behind-the-scenes tours of their food rescue warehouse on Walton Street in Portland during an Oct. 6 yard party called Inside Wayside.

A festive tone was set by String Tide playing folk-grass music and professional chefs and culinary students serving everything from seafood cakes with crema and fennel to chocolate stout cake.

“I love Wayside,” said David Turin of Casco Bay Chefs Association. “They do an amazing thing with a giving spirt.”

Connecting with 65 local food pantries, Wayside moves 2.2 million pounds of food annually. Food that might otherwise end up in the waste stream is distributed, free of charge, to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other service agencies.

“This event shows our donors and supporters the full scope of what we do,” said Operations Manager Don Morrison. “It’s a great opportunity to show off.”

Board President John Leeming took small groups through the warehouse, pointing out some of what Wayside does. Efforts include the Senior Food Boxes and Kids’ Healthy Snacks programs; Food Access for All, which supplies culturally diverse food staples; 13 free weekly community meals and five mobile food pantries.

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“None of this gets done without the support of the community – donations and volunteers,” Leeming said. “When you give time or money to Wayside, you’re giving it to the community.”

Board member Karen Schilling, a former oncology dietitian, established one of Wayside’s more unusual programs, New England Entral Exchange Distribution Solution, or NEEDS, a decade ago.

“Some people were getting their feeding tubes out and had extra formula,” she said. “Other people who had no insurance couldn’t get the formula. Under the Good Samaritan law, an organization like Wayside can take it, make sure it’s within the date and give it out.”

After taking a tour, Leslie Runser of South Portland said, “I was very impressed with the size of the facility and how such a small staff can manage volunteers to get all these things done.”

“It takes a whole network,” said Penny Jordan, founder of Farms for Food Equity. “Wayside is instrumental in moving a lot of food to people who need it.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be reached at [email protected]


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