During a recent ‘Pack the Pantries’ food drive, volunteers load donations onto a truck. Courtesy photo/ Steffi Cox

In a collaborative effort spanning South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, and Scarborough, volunteers are spearheading food drives this November to support three local food pantries: South Portland Food Cupboard, Judy’s Pantry in Cape Elizabeth, and the Scarborough Food Pantry. The initiative, “Pack the Pantries,” is addressing the increasing demand for assistance as residents grapple with soaring prices for food and more. The initiative’s goals are to alleviate immediate hunger and to support those facing food insecurity. Food drives in the three communities allow residents to help their neighbors who need it.

Food drives will take place Friday and Saturday to accept donations of non-parishable food and cash, checks or online donations — the pantries hope to raise $15,000 to share between them.

Ellen Parenteau, volunteer director at the Scarborough Food Pantry, said there is growing reliance on food pantries during these challenging times: “As the weather turns colder, as prices at the grocery stores continue to be high, we are seeing more and more neighbors stop by the food pantry.”

Families facing financial constraints often rely on food pantries to stretch their budgets, aid Steffi Cox, executive director of Project GRACE. Project GRACE is one of the group organizers.

“We’re coming together to help the pantries because all three work together all year long to feed our neighbors,” Cox said. The collaborative nature of the community initiative is important, she said, particularly during a time of the year when the demand for pantry services traditionally surges. While each pantry serves its community, the interconnectedness allows families to visit any of the three based on convenience, preference, or privacy considerations.

Dwayne Hopkins, director of the South Portland Food Cupboard, asks residents to contribute. The collective impact of even small donations adds up, he said. “Dropping off a couple extra canned goods might not seem like a big deal or all that impactful. But if each of our 55,000 neighbors in South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, and Scarborough gave a couple extra cans or boxes of food, you’re talking 100,000 items that our three pantries can distribute to hundreds of neighbors in need. That is super impactful.”

Lots of items were donated at a recent food drive, part of Pack the Pantries Courtesy photo/ Steffi Cox

A recent food drive at Pond Cove IGA, organized by off-duty officers from Cape Elizabeth, raised nearly filled a van with non-perishable goods and holiday food items, Cox said.

To donate in person, go to the food drives in South Portland on Friday, Nov. 17 and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 18 at Pape Subaru, 2065 Broadway; and in Scarborough from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18  at Town Hall, 295 Route 1.

Online contributions can be made at fooddrive.me

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