“We’re ready,” said Pam Edwards, as she and a team of seasoned volunteers prepared for Waldoboro Food Pantry Distribution Day on November 16. The carts that roll into the waiting cars.
According to volunteer Janet Lee, the store was also providing an extra batch of vegetables — several local farms brought in end-of-season produce to be distributed to residents facing food insecurity.
“I come home drenched in generosity. He told me it was rewarding to be able to give this to people. I am so grateful for all the giving.”
Even as the cars lined the long driveway of the Midomac’s house on Friendship Road, the donors were still pulling in and dropping off more food. A couple walked down the long aisle with a turkey to donate. A truck stopped to unload the winter squash. And with all that, this constant stream of carriages kept rolling.
Pantry vice president Nancy Lieber manned the front of the queue, asked each driver how many families to feed, and sent a number to Lynne Lakoff, the “cart master of the day,” who put a colored flag with that number on each cart, and sent it to the staging area.
There Edwards, Lee, Sherry Gallas, Ted Bean, and Carol Brazier loaded them with bags of apples, loaves of bread, milk, eggs, and an array of non-perishable food items.
Brazier started volunteering at the Waldoboro Food Pantry in March 2018. She said it’s better than sitting at home sticking her thumb. “It feels so satisfying to feel that the audience is being served and it helps a little,” she said.
The wagons were pulled by Lenny Ryan, Dale Turner, Andrew Lakoff, and Mayer Drabkin. Scott Spaulding dropped a turkey in the wagon bed. Emmet Tate added potatoes.
Lynne Lakoff directed them down the driveway—to the red pickup truck, the white Ford, or the Toyota tan—waiting for food that would help support families for the next three weeks until pantry day came again.
Lynn Lackoff has been volunteering since February 2020. She retired and wanted something to do and decided to do it.
“It’s fun,” she said. “They really are a great group of people. And when you see all the different pieces, the coordination, it’s amazing.”
Maurita Lord, who has volunteered to deliver food since early in the pandemic, drove in a pickup truck. Within minutes Ryan and Andrew Lackoff helped her load food for 18 families at Sproul Apartments, people who don’t have the means to pick up food themselves.
Store opened at noon. By 12:06, Lieber called Waldoborough Police to control traffic as the line of cars spilled onto the street. Normally a volunteer would be able to manage the flow of traffic, but with the increased demand for holidays, cars were piling up.
When the vehicles moved to the head of the line, Lane Danes offered them additional items that were donated in limited supplies. She had bars of soap, almond milk, cat food, extra root vegetables, and donated pumpkins.
One car accepted her advice to stock up on soap, not knowing when it would be available again. Another car took a pumpkin to make a pie. Another asked if there was any dog food available, but Dains said not this time.
Stuart Campbell paused in a red knit Santa hat his wife made for him. Campbell takes on the role of Santa Claus during the holiday season and saw the opportunity to help a family in need as an extension of that role. Dane handed him a large head of cabbage to add to his brine.
On November 16, Waldoboro Food Pantry volunteers distributed food to 124 families, totaling 307 people, including 86 under the age of 17 and 61 over the age of 65. There were 10 new families in need of assistance.
The Waldoboro Food Pantry has served the greater Waldoboro area from a variety of locations since the 1980s, helping curb hunger in anywhere from 60 to over 100 families.
When the pandemic hit, he began working as a drive-through from the city office parking lot, with the help of city officials and emergency personnel in Waldoboro. But a more permanent site was needed.
In June 2020, the store was moved to Medomak House on Friendship Road where owners Ron and Peggy Davis provided the property’s large barn as a base of operations.
The large building and long corridor were ideally suited to the needs of the store during the pandemic. The recent addition of a large cooler enabled the pantry to accept and store more food donations, and increased the efficiency of the entire volunteer team.
The cooler costs about $4,000, plus installation, according to operations manager Jeff Brown.
The Davis family contributed the cost with a number of other donors. The pantry is 100% powered by donations of food products, essential goods, and cash from individuals, local businesses, churches, community organizations, and the cities it serves.
The pantry’s annual appeal will be in mailboxes in December, according to Treasurer Natalie Maas. It desperately needs a pickup truck to replace the current practice of using volunteer cars, which Maas has described as “unsustainable”. Several local businesses have already applied to help but more money will be needed.
The truck will allow the store to get more food and distribute it to the community, not only at the physical location on Friendship Road, but also by providing pop-up food stores in mobile homes or apartment complexes, and serving outside the store’s regular distribution hours.
“We have to start moving food stocks into the community to keep and increase our customers,” Maas said.
The Waldoboro Food Pantry is located at 124 Friendship Street and is open from noon to 3 pm every first and Tuesday of the month. The store serves the communities of Waldoborough, Bremen and Nobleborough. We always welcome new customers who are food insecure.
Donations can be mailed to: Waldoboro Food Pantry, PO Box 692, Waldoboro, ME 04572 or submitted online at waldoborofoodpantry.org.
For more information, search for Waldoboro Food Pantry on Facebook, or call 520-5100.