The food pantry opened in March 2020 because the community needed it. As the epidemic spreads through Maine, that need continues to grow.
Winslow, Maine – The Good Shepherd Food Bank distributes food in pantries across the state of Maine that support community members. One of those pantries is the Winslow Community Cupboard 8
Located next to Winslow Congregational Church in Winslow, it is open on the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and from 4 to 6 p.m. Bottiglierie says volunteers are willing to make home delivery for those unable to find transportation in the pantry.
The pantry first opened its doors in March 2020 Bruce Bottigliri and another member of the Winslow Congregational Church opened it because they saw the need to do more to help those facing food insecurity. Bottiglierie said the only other pantry in their community is open for one hour every day for one day and that was not enough.
Bottiglierie said he originally intended for food shelves to serve the larger Winslow community, but as the epidemic progressed they began to help people across Maine who needed it.
He said they have started serving about 40 families. The pantry served 215 families last week. Last month alone, they distributed 50,000 pounds of food, Botiglyri said.
This pantry differs from the norm, it meets the needs and wants of its clients, he said. By doing this, they are limiting food wastage.
“We're just pre-boxing food and not giving it to anyone, because we don't know if we're picking up food or spoiling food that they don't eat or have allergies to,” Botiglyri said.
Rebecca Adam of Winslow said she was the sole supplier to her family during the epidemic. He said he first learned about the Winslow Community Cupboard through a friend who was a volunteer there.
“I really like this pantry because I don't feel like a number,” Adams said.
Adams said the volunteers always made him feel welcome and comfortable, and he appreciated the quality and quantity of food he was able to bring home as a teenager.
“As food prices rise, meat becomes more expensive whenever I go to the grocery store, and eating healthier costs a lot more,” Adams said.
Bottiglierie felt strongly about starting this pantry because he felt the growing food insecurity in New Jersey. As a child of single parents, he said they depended on the food bank.
“I remember the days when I ate a can of vegetables for dinner and had nothing in the pantry,” Botiglieri said.
Bottiglierie says they have nearly doubled the number of families they have served since last December, and about half of them are over 60 years old.
The drive-through operation works by first examining what clients need from a list of grocery options. The volunteers then begin work, filling in the boxes to complete their order. The boxes are then delivered to each vehicle.
Adams now says his children are teenagers, they care more about their image, so the money he was able to save to buy groceries, he was able to use those funds to help increase their closets.
“If we can save a family 20 20-30 that they can put extra in their oil tank or they can take their child out for an extra meal, we've done our job,” Botigliri said.
Bottiglierie On any given Thursday they are open, they have helped up to 25 volunteers. He said a large portion of the aid came from student volunteers at Temple Christian Academy in Waterville. Bottiglierie said the principal brings the students to the pantry, and they spend three hours loading the boxes and getting them out of the car.
The pantry relies heavily on donations, so any contribution helps.
For those in urgent need of food assistance, Botigliari said there is also a fridge next to the pantry or a free community fridge. It has a lot of food items so people can stop and if they can't wait for the pantry to open next Thursday, they will grab it.
The fridge is open from 3 to 6 a.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday. People can donate their food to the fridge if they don't want / need it and it doesn't expire.
Refrigerators are located around the world and there are three locations in Maine. To find the one closest to you, click here.
A soup kitchen next door to Winslow Congregational Church, also known as Stone Soup Cafe, is open several days a week. It is open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
To donate to the Winslow Community Cupboard, click here.