Teamsters’ food drive sets record

12 years ago

Teamsters’ food drive sets record

By Kathy McCarty

Staff Writer

    A statewide effort by members of the Teamsters Local 340 and the Women’s Committee, businesses and citizens —beginning in Kittery and concluding in Fort Fairfield — has resulted in the largest collection of non-perishable food and monetary donations to benefit food pantries served by Catholic Charities of Maine’s Caribou office, through its Feed the County program. The annual food drive, which took place July 20 and 21 in conjunction with the Maine Potato Blossom Festival in Fort Fairfield, found organizers scrambling to find an empty spot in the Teamsters’ tractor-trailer truck as it made its way along the parade route.

    “We collected 34,500 pounds of food and $3,000 in cash donations. Our truck was full. This is the best year yet. We far surpassed past efforts,” said Traci Place, spokesperson for the Teamsters Local 340’s Presque Isle office.

    Place said through the Feed the County program, Catholic Charities supplies food to 24 food pantries in Aroostook County, maintaining their own food bank to do so. While the collection may sound like a lot, it takes about that much food to fill the needs of the two dozen pantries each month.

    Place said despite being out of the area served by the donations, Teamsters from across the state, businesses and individuals stepped up to the plate, generously donating of their time, money and through contributions of a variety of items, including non-perishable and fresh products.

    “We had 15 cases of milk from Gaerlick and other products delivered direct. B&M beans donated several cases, Kellogg’s snacks were donated. Locally, Country Farms Market made a nice donation, as did several other organizations and individuals,” said Place.

    Organizers began to wonder if they’d have enough room on the truck to make it the full length of the trip, with volunteers having to rearrange items packed in the trailer when they got to Medway.

    “The truck was so full at Medway, we had to rearrange to jam everything in. We thought we might have to get another trailer to haul everything. But once we moved some things around, we were able to make it up to the County,” said Place. “Then we had to do some more rearranging during the parade. The truck was filled to capacity.”

    Place said in the long run, organizers couldn’t have asked for more.

    “We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout and payoff. Membership gives to the area every year, even though a lot of them don’t even live here,” said Place. “They know the donations benefit their neighbors, friends, family and all who’ve fallen on hard times. Teamsters realize that, given the state of the economy, it could easily be them that’s out of work and in need of help to feed their families.”

    Place wished to thank all who made this year’s event such a huge success.

    “I can’t begin to express how much this means to me, as well as Dixie Shaw at Catholic Charities. This year’s collection will go a long way in aiding many families served by the 24 food pantries,” said Place. “I had someone come up to me during the parade and tell me, ‘Now I know what the ‘team’ in Teamsters is all about.’ I couldn’t have said it better.”

    Shaw, director of Catholic Charities, is grateful for the statewide support.

    “I want to say thank you to all who made this possible. This is such a great gift for the people of Aroostook County. Thank you so very much!” said Shaw.