The Battle of the Neighborhoods food drive runs from Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day Maxen Ryder photo

The third annual Battle of the Neighborhoods food drive begins on Feb. 14 to support the South Portland Food Cupboard. Local neighborhoods are challenged to see which can donate the most nonperishables.

“After New Year’s our donations go right down the tube,” said Jim Welch, operations manager of the South Portland Food Cupboard. “It’s like everybody forgets about donating. So we started this Battle of the Neighborhoods. And it took off, especially right at the beginning of COVID. And it brought in so much stuff we had to find other places to store it.”

Welch explained that one benefit of the Battle of the Neighborhoods is that with so many different people donating, a large variety of food is gathered. The cupboard is then able to provide for more people and more tastes as a result.

Many different local South Portland neighborhoods get involved, as well as the town of Cape Elizabeth and donations from Scarborough and Portland.

“Each and every donation makes a big difference in supporting our neighbors in need,” the South Portland Food Cupboard said. “And it’s so much fun to watch the neighborhoods get together for such good cause.”

In 2022, the Battle of the Neighborhoods gathered 15,369 pounds of food. Sunset Park came in first place, followed by Willard/Loveitt’s Field and Thornton Heights.


The drive runs from Valentine’s Day to St. Patrick’s Day.

To donate food, nonperishables can be dropped off in the mornings at the Food Cupboard at 130 Thadeus St., South Portland. Donations should be clearly labeled with the neighborhood from which they came.

Nonperishable donations should be items such as canned goods, dried beans, pasta, peanut butter, etc. Donations should not be items such as soft drinks, bottled water, food that is expired, or large containers like a gallon jar of mayonnaise.

The South Portland Food Cupboard has more than 200 volunteers that work to help feed those in need. In the last fiscal year from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, the cupboard served about 12,000 people. The need has risen to 20,000 people between July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023.

“The people are just incredible,” Welch said. “It’s just a wonderful thing. During the time we wouldn’t be getting donations, I’m getting several tons and tons of food to put out which helps us get through to April.”

South Portland Food Cupboard

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