Maine credit unions share the bread and the money

Posted June 08, 2009, at 11:44 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — The “bread” that was given away on Monday by an association of state credit unions during the group’s fifth annual Share the Bread event can be toasted and used to buy food.

Area food pantries from across the state received a loaf of white bread and a check for $500 as part of the Campaign for Ending Hunger, Jon Paradise of the Maine Credit Union League said inside the Good Shepherd Food-Bank’s distribution center in Brewer.

“Today we will have contributed $17,000 to end hunger in the state,” he said.

The funds were given to 33 nonprofit food banks all over the state with two pantries from each county in Maine getting checks. Good Shepherd, which supplies food to 600 food pantries around the state, also was given a $1,000 check.

Susanna Wright, social services director for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Food Pantry, said thank you twice after getting the loaf of bread and the check.

“It means a lot because we have zero funds to buy food beyond what we get from the USDA, so this will help immensely,” she said.

The United States Department of Agriculture provides “all kinds of vegetables and some frozen meat,” Wright said. The donated funds will be used to purchase bread, eggs, meat and dairy products, she said.

Amanda Sabattis, outreach worker for the Maliseets, said about 40 families are served by the pantry each month. She added that requests have increased recently and that she believes the bad economy is to blame.

The need to support food banks is especially important in the summer, when children are out of school, said Melody Dowell, spokeswoman for Good Shepherd.

“In the summertime when kids are out of school, they are not receiving the free and reduced lunches … and parents are paying for day care,” which cuts into the family food budget, she said. “In the summertime there is more of a demand.”

Dowell praised the Maine Credit Union League for its dedication to helping to end hunger in Maine.

“Maine’s credit unions are about ‘people helping people,’ and Sharing the Bread is an extension of this philosophy,” Paradise, governmental and public affairs manager for the Maine Credit Union League, said in a statement.

After giving out the bread and the checks, Paradise thanked those present, many of whom were volunteers, and said, “I’m sure you can put it to good use.”

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