DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Pastor Tom Bruce has routinely included a few words about the Living Word Community Food Cupboard in his oft-said prayers for the sick and needy.
Specifically, the pastor of the Living Word Assembly of God in Dover-Foxcroft said he would mention the ecumenical cupboard’s need for a permanent home from which to serve the hungry and needy.
Those prayers were answered recently, Bruce said, when the cupboard’s $40,000 bid on a tax-acquired building and property on Route 15 was accepted by Dover-Foxcroft town officials.
Since then, Bruce said, an application was made to USDA Rural Development for a $53,000 loan and a $35,000 grant for the purchase. He expects to learn within the next couple of weeks whether the application was accepted for funding. The closing on the property, which formerly housed Brigg’s Plumbing, is expected in the fall.
“We did have a vision for what we thought the food cupboard needed for its future, and we didn’t see it happening for all of these years, but today it is starting to come to pass,” Bruce said Saturday. “The ability to do more and different things to help the community out for us was a big plus.”
The loan, if approved, will come at a favorable interest rate, according to Bruce. Funds above the purchase price will be used to purchase equipment such as a forklift, a pallet jack, a freezer and cooler and some needed building renovations. Some extra fundraising will be needed to repair the driveway for wheelchair access and to replace the leaky roof, he noted.
Of the $40,000 bid, $20,000 was for back taxes owed to the town. Other liens placed on the property were paid off with savings the cupboard had salted away, according to Bruce.
The food cupboard has paid rent the majority of the 16 years it has been in business. It is leasing space in Central Hall for $500 a month. If the grant-loan is approved, Bruce anticipates that the cupboard will pay about $250 a month for the loan repayment, but it also will have insurance and utilities bills.
About 240 families are on the rolls at the food cupboard in the Dover-Foxcroft area and approximately 230 families are served in the Milo-Brownville area, according to Bruce.
“I’m signing up four or five new families every week,” Bruce said. In addition, he said, he is serving more individuals who have been affected by the downturn in the economy. At the same time, the economy is affecting the food supplies. He said the cupboard received $4,000 in federal funds this year to purchase food, compared to $6,000 to $8,000 in past years.
Over the years, people have stepped up and helped the cupboard with financial donations, Bruce said. Just recently, a fundraising drive netted $500 for the cupboard.
“We really do depend on the $25 a month donation or the $10 gift from those in the community,” he said. The volunteer help, such as a recent offer from a local plumber and electrician to help upgrade the new property, also is immensely appreciated, he said.
Bruce said it’s a daily struggle to keep the food cupboard in operation, but families rely on it so he doesn’t intend to let them down. The food cupboard has been there for the community, now Bruce believes the community will be there to help the food cupboard.
With a place to call home, Bruce said, he was “fairly optimistic” that more people will step forward to help others in need.
Donations may be forwarded to Living Word Community Food Cupboard Building Fund, 176 East Main St., Dover-Foxcroft 04426.