By Rich Romero, Resource Developer and Housing Administrator

Thanks to a long-time partner agency and a generous donor, the Brewer Area Food Pantry finally has a dedicated vehicle on its 10th anniversary.

The $50,000 Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine Retail Capacity Building Grant funded by Feeding America allows the food pantry to purchase a vehicle capable of retail food donation pickups in Brewer, Bangor, and now Millinocket. According to Jessica Gibby, OHI Brewer Area Food Pantry co-coordinator, it will also be used for weekly deliveries of food to homebound people and others unable to go to the food pantry.

“We also hope in the future we can use the van as a mobile food pantry,” Gibby said.

The BAFP opened Nov. 11 with an open house. Its first distribution of food was Thanksgiving baskets just days before the annual holiday. As then and still now, the food pantry relies solely on grants and donations with an all-volunteer workforce.

“It might have taken 10 years to secure funding for a vehicle for the Brewer Area Food Pantry, but without our long standing and valued partnership with Good Shepherd it might have taken another 10 years,” said Mindy Ward, OHI president and chief executive officer. “We’re grateful to them and Feeding America. What a wonderful time for it to happen, too — during this time of giving thanks.

Ward and Gibby said the enhanced services this donation allows OHI and the BAFP to provide to the community fill a growing need for an aging population with food insecurity. “It’s also a much needed relief to our fantastic and dedicated volunteers who do the heavy lifting and transporting of donated and purchased food,” Ward added.

The stated goal of this Retail Capacity Building Grant funding is to build agency retail capacity to better serve the needs of food insecure Mainers, according to the GSFB memorandum of understanding. The (vehicle) purchased with funds from this grant provides needed infrastructure to support retail program growth. Gibby explained part of the retail program growth includes the BAFP doing retail food donation pickups in Millinocket.