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Ecumenical Food Pantry seeing increase in clients amid pandemic

CARIBOU, Maine — The Caribou Ecumenical Food Pantry has been seeing an increase of two to four clients a week since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, according to Tim Sturzl, chairman of the Ecumenical Food Pantry Board. 

 

Sturzl said the pantry began offering curbside pickup shortly after the pandemic hit in March, and that so far it has been working very well. 

“We have increased hours since the pandemic started and reduced wait time between eligibility for food boxes,” he added. 

The pantry’s hours are now 8:30-11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, adding an extra hour to its former 9:30-11 a.m. schedule. 

Sturzl said only a couple of the pantry’s volunteers are opting not to work at the pantry during the pandemic, dding that the organization is not seeking any additional volunteers due to social distancing requirements.

Last year, the board discussed plans to merge with the Bread of Life Kitchen, moving from its current Herschel Street location into an addition that would be built onto the Bread of Life Kitchen’s facility on Collins Street. 

Since the pandemic hit, Sturzl said any meetings and plans associated with this project have been placed on hold until it is safe to proceed.

The pantry serves nearly 3,000 in Woodland, Connor, Wade, Perham, Washburn and Caribou every year. 

Since the pandemic hit, Sturzl said community members have been very generous with donations, and that he and other volunteers have received “very positive feedback.”

Those who obtain food from the pantry will receive one box containing non-perishable goods and another box with perishable items such as meat, pastries, fruits and vegetables.

Eligibility is based on federal guidelines of income and family size and that current COVID-19 guidelines allow clients to receive food once every four weeks, Sturzl said. 

Anyone in need, or who has questions about eligibility or curbside pickup, is welcome to call the pantry at 207-493-4860.

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