DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Pastor Tom Bruce is looking for a permanent home for the faith-based Living Word Community Food Cupboard.
Last week, Bruce pitched the idea of operating the cupboard from Central Hall starting January 2009 since the town plans to move its municipal officers to the former school on Morton Avenue, which will leave Central Hall vacant. Bruce said the cupboard would pay the utilities and heat.
“If we don’t get a building, I don’t know what the future of the food cupboard will be,” Bruce said. The roof of the privately owned building, which is now used rent-free, is leaking and sagging, he said.
Selectmen agreed to discuss the request in committee and report back at the next meeting. It was noted that the matter would have to be presented to the planning board since it would be a change in use.
Bruce actually hopes the town will follow the lead of Millinocket which, he said, deeded over the former armory to I Care Ministries for $1. “We’ve never asked the town for a dime for over 10 years,” Bruce said Friday. “With that we think it’s just time for them to come forward.”
More than 1,000 people depend upon the cupboard in Dover-Foxcroft to help stretch their meager incomes. At the same time, the food cupboard depends upon the generosity of those willing to share with their neighbors.
As the economy continues its slump, many of those givers are now finding themselves on the receiving end, which creates a large void, according to Bruce, who is the chief supervisor and fundraiser for the regional food cupboard. He said some people arrive at the cupboard weeping, saying they never expected to need help.
In addition to fewer donations, new food cupboards are opening in smaller communities because of the poor economy, so the food source is getting smaller, he said. “We’re all vying for the same can of corn,” Bruce said. The same food he paid 16 cents a pound for now costs 35 to 50 cents a can. In addition, supplies are limited because there are “so many people and so little product.”
What’s keeping the food cupboard afloat is the faithfulness of people who have been on board since the beginning, Bruce said. Those include the churches in the region, the Kiwanis Club, McKusick Oil, the Maine Highlands Federal Credit Union and the handful of individuals who donate $20 to $25 a month, he said.
“We’re always working uphill every single month,” Bruce said, adding that having a permanent home would be one less worry.
Bruce, who volunteers about 20 hours a week through the support of his church, the Living Word Assembly of God, said a satellite food cupboard will be opened next month in Brownville Junction to serve people who cannot afford the gasoline to drive to the Dover-Foxcroft site.
“I know it’s tough times for everybody, but sometimes we need to think about those who may just be a little less fortunate than us,” Bruce said.