The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday for its reopened indoor food pantry. From left to right are Executive Director Karen Parker, volunteer Pat Currier and Food Pantry Coordinator Devyn Santora. Courtesy of Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program

The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program this week reopened its indoor food pantry for the first time since it closed in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The program ran a curbside service during the closure, providing prepackaged boxes of food with some options to people in need.

Some of the food available at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program’s indoor food pantry. Courtesy of Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program

The indoor pantry — which expanded over the past several months after the program moved its food bank and administrative office to Brunswick Landing to accommodate more donated food — allows people to walk in and make their own selections. In addition to food, items like diapers and toiletries are also available.

Program Executive Director Karen Parker said the reopened pantry will result in less waste because patrons can pick what they need.

She said there has been a 25% increase in demand for the food pantry since March, when pandemic-era increases to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, expired. The average Mainer in the program had been receiving about $100 extra a month.

“That’s the point where we see the demand rise, and it continues to rise,” Parker said.


High food prices and rising housing costs have also contributed to the increased demand, she added.

The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program’s food pantry offers refrigerator items like eggs and yogurt, and other items like diapers and toiletries. Courtesy of Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program

“That’s a hard rate to keep up with,” Parker said, adding the program is preparing to help a group of 60 asylum-seeking families who are expected to begin moving into a new housing complex in Brunswick Landing later this summer.

She said the program distributed 1.4 million pounds of donated food last year. Local grocery stores, farmers and donation drives like the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger event in May account for the bulk of donations, she said.

She said her organization, founded 40 years ago, has a staff of 18 and more than 700 volunteers.

“Our volunteers are integral to the work that we do,” Parker said. “They are the ones that pick up the groceries from the grocery stores, deliver food and work in the food pantry.”

The program also runs several more food pantries throughout the Midcoast.

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