Houlton Rotary Learns about St. Mary’s Food Pantry
Posted By Fgrant
written by Scott Dionne – picture courtesy of Mike Clark
Mildred Madigan recently visited the Houlton Rotary Club to highlight the efforts of St. Mary’s Food Pantry. For over ten years, the pantry has been assisting local folks who struggle to find enough food to sustain themselves and their families. Madigan, who manages the program, claims, “No one ever asks personal questions of those seeking assistance, and religion and church is never discussed. The need for food is the only prerequisite for coming to the pantry.”
St. Mary’s program is engineered only to supplement the needs of individuals and families, limiting visits to once every six weeks. This approach encourages people to look for other, more long-term sources of support, such as food stamps. Many times a family will take advantage of the pantry’s service but once or twice a year to help get through hard times. When people look to St. Mary’s for assistance, care is given to maintaining their privacy; program volunteers strive to schedule food pick up times fifteen minutes apart.
The food given by the program per visit is enough to fill two large grocery bags. The bags contain cereal, juice, beans, pasta, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, and other items. The food makes it to the pantry from a variety of sources. Donations come from the USDA and Catholic Charities, along with those pooled by students from local schools who conduct food drives. Local grocery stores also give products. Shop-N-Save makes weekly donations from its deli, and County Yankee has been a consistent supporter of the program.
Though the generosity of community members and other organizations is great, Madigan does need to fill holes by using the monetary donations garnered throughout the year. She shops locally for many items, but also, whenever possible, takes advantage of a large food bank in Brewer. In Brewer, she can buy first-quality food for $.13 per pound. Able to purchase food for such reduced prices, Madigan stretches even the smallest donation into a meal for a needy family. St. Mary’s Food Pantry, under her guidance and because of the effort of many volunteers, assists over ninety-five different area families per month. Madigan and all the people who support the pantry truly understand Rotary’s guiding principle of placing service above self.