BANGOR, Maine — Since it began its walk-in service in the fall of 2007, the Seeds of Hope Food Pantry has operated out of the basement of the Beacon of Hope Church of God at 1612 Ohio St.
As the economy — and local families — continue to struggle, however, pressure on the program is mounting.
“I’d say we’re easily serving about 150 families a week,” Isaac Mann, the food pantry’s director, said in an interview this week, adding that the program also provides blankets, knitted items, personal care items and pet food, among other things.
Because of the growing need, the pantry’s current space — the 30 by 35 basement that also houses the church’s Sunday school and other programs — is no longer adequate.
Each Thursday, when the food pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers must first clear out the Sunday school equipment and supplies and then set up the pantry operation. After the pantry closes, they have to put the Sunday school back in order.
Another issue is that the church hopes someday to expand its sanctuary, which precludes its being able to devote more space to the food pantry.
To fulfill the pantry’s needs, Mann said he is seeking a larger space, one that the pantry program can use long term and preferably for free or at a nominal cost. Such a move, he said, would enable pantry volunteers to serve those in need more easily.
“We don’t have a building. I’ve called, I’ve begged,” Mann said. “The best thing would be if someone donated one to us or if we could pay for utilities.
“There are buildings all over the city that are just sitting there,” he said. “We’re even willing to look at older buildings. We’re willing to put in walls or partitions ourselves.”
As it stands, Mann must store much of the pantry’s goods and equipment in his own garage in Corinth. The lack of space also means the pantry is not yet in a position to accept some of the items that area businesses have offered to donate.
“My belief is that there’s a building out there somewhere for us,” he said. “We desperately need this.”
According to Mann, the church’s food pantry began several years ago as a small operation that served primarily members. The pantry expanded to serve the larger community in late 2007, after Bangor Federal Credit Union donated $2,000 to help the pantry become a member of the Good Shepherd Food-Bank.
Anyone who has space that might accommodate the pantry may call Mann at 745-2952.