Food pantry looking for a new home

Needs to relocate by end of month
By Fran Gonzalez | Oct 10, 2018
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez The crew at No Greater Love food pantry, from left: board members Kenna Dufresne and Janice Loring, Secretary Mary Guindon, Assistant Director Rapunzel Bergeron and Director Tanya Bormet in their current location at Abundant Grace Ministries Church Oct. 3. Missing from the crew are Treasurer Neil Bergeron and board member Seth Curra.

Searsmont — The No Greater Love food pantry, which operates in the Abundant Grace Ministries Church on Brierley Road, is looking for a new home.

While managers have no concrete plans as to where the pantry will move, their agreement with the church for their current space is set to expire at the end of October.

"We need help — we're on a time crunch," Director Tanya Bormet said. The church has “graciously housed us for the last five years,” she said, but the church’s needs are expanding, as are the pantry’s.

Bormet said she notified Pastor Peter Sheff in August that the pantry would be leaving, but its managers haven’t been able to find a suitable space. They’ve been hoping they might revisit their agreement, but, she said, “I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The food pantry currently serves 500 to 600 people a month and has outgrown the space, Sheff said. “They are in need of a much larger place.”

At the same time, the church, “hoping to grow attendance,” plans to transform the pantry space into a church school area for children, he said.

Pantry board member Janice Loring said, "He (Sheff) has presented our intent to the board and to make it work for them, they have to move forward. It puts a sense of urgency into the situation."

Sheff, who is running for the Waldo County treasurer seat, said the pantry is “diligently trying to find a spot, and we are hoping that they do find a place."

According to Bormet, the town of Searsmont has offered its community center to serve as a distribution center, but would not be able to accommodate the group's refrigerators, which are needed to store perishable food that is collected daily.

Bormet said the pantry, now in its fifth year of operation, has grown steadily. In total, the pantry serves 34 towns and, as of August, helps out 1,162 individuals and 409 families, she said. "A lot of families depend on us," she said. "We've received many messages, worried about what's going on."

About 60 families per week, roughly 120 to 130 people rely on the pantry for food, according to Bormet. "We're one of the few pantries that are open weekly. We do seven pick-ups in a week from different stores, and sometimes more. That's a lot of food with no place to store."

The group applied for and received a grant to purchase a vehicle for deliveries, which has helped, she said.

The pantry also has a small thrift store section where everything is a quarter. All the merchandise is donated or "out of our own pockets," Bormet said.

The all-volunteer group operates only on donations. “There is no funding,” Bormet said.

They have help from the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center, with four to six Reentry Center men assisting each week. "Without the Reentry guys, I don't know what we would have done," Board Assistant Director Rapunzel Bergeron said.

Board member Kenna Dufresne added, "They are amazing."

The pantry also hosts people on the Fedcap program, a state-assisted work-for-benefits initiative.

Bormet said, ideally, they are looking for someone to "volunteer" a suitable place; their organization is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and the donation of a space could be tax-deductible.

The pantry would like to remain in the Searsmont, Morrill, Montville, Liberty and Belmont area. The pantry feeds people throughout Waldo and Knox counties.

“We don't turn anyone away," Bormet said. "We're just hoping that there is a space out there for us."

To contact the No Greater Love food pantry, call Bormet at 299-2093.

 

The No Greater Love food pantry has outgrown its current space at the Abundant Grace Ministries Church, shown here Oct. 3. (Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
(Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
(Photo by: Fran Gonzalez)
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