BREWER, Maine — When the Brewer Christian Food Cupboard closed its doors in August 2012, the 350 people it served were left with few options, none that were within city limits.
Folks at OHI, a Hermon-based agency that supports people with mental disabilities and has an office at the Twin City Plaza, have decided to step forward and partner with the city and others to open another food pantry to try to fill the need.
“We internally started talking about the incredible need and the gap the closing of that food pantry would cause,” OHI project manager Brenda Leavitt said Wednesday.
OHI once operated a small food bank out of its office in Brewer and is working with the former operators of the Brewer Christian Food Cupboard on its new endeavor.
The food cupboard, which was started by Anne Piper and others in the basement of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church nearly three decades ago, moved to a larger, costly location two years ago and closed on Aug. 17, 2012.
Those serviced by the closed food pantry were directed to the Salvation Army or The Together Place, both located in Bangor, or the Clifton Food Bank.
“By sending them elsewhere, that just puts stress on other food pantries that are already stressed,” Leavitt said.
OHI started meeting recently about opening another food bank and invited the city and the members of the closed pantry’s board to attend. The Brewer Christian Food Cupboard was supported by food and monetary donations from eight area Christian churches and food donations from a number of local businesses. Money raised was used to buy food from Good Shepherd Food-Bank. Leavitt said the group hopes to tap the same sources and others to operate the new food bank.
“OHI will put some initial funding up to get it started, and we’ll look at every possible resource out there to keep it going,” she said.
“Right now we’re in the planning process,” Nicole Gogan, Brewer’s economic development specialist, said Wednesday. “We’ve got an advisory committee set up and we have an aggressive opening date of July 1.”
The group is currently looking for an approximately 4,000-square-foot location that is on the bus route, zoned correctly and reasonably priced, she said.
“That is the priority number one right now,” Gogan said.
“If any of your readers have a location to donate, we’d welcome it,” Leavitt said.
To find out more, contact Leavitt at her OHI office, 605-1208, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the OHI webpage, ohimaine.org.