2014-11-21 / Community

Pantry gears up for holiday

By Jason Glynn
Contributing Writer

The South Portland Food Cupboard is gearing up for Thanksgiving, and is seeking community support. The pantry, located at 130 Thadeus Drive, is open for distribution every Thursday from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Families with income that falls below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Level are allowed to use the pantry once a month after a quick interview. Due to its once-amonth distribution model, pantry workers are starting to give out food for Thanksgiving this week.

Sybil Riemensnider, the director, founded the food pantry 18 years ago. The reasons she founded it were clear.

“I love helping people,” she said.

Riemensniderwasnameda6WhoCareaward winner by WCSH6 on Oct. 28, an award given to honor exceptional service in the community. Her goal is to “lower barriers preventing people that need help from getting it.” She added, “If people need food, they need food.”

The cupboard has more than 50 volunteers who package and prepare goods for 60-plus families weekly, Riemensnider said.

Assistant Director Anita Taylor has been volunteered at the cupboard for eight years.

“Probably 99 percent of clients really need the help … [and] I like what I do,” Taylor said.

The pantry is partnered with Good Shepherd Food Bank, but seeks personal and business donations for most of their inventory needs.

“For the holidays we try to give everyone what they need for a great dinner,” Riemensnider said.

This is complete right from “a pie crust and pudding to be used as filling.” Many clients are in local facilities, so they are offered half a turkey, which can be delivered if needed. Taylor said they deliver the second Wednesday of the month to about 15 South Portland residents.

Although slightly more than half of the pantry’s clients are from South Portland (57 percent), many come from surrounding communities. Clients are interviewed upon arrival; they fill out a shopping list, then roam around selecting from breads, meats, and vegetables while volunteers in an adjacent room gather the items on the list, Riemensnider said.

If you can’t make it inside due to a disability, that’s OK. “We even do car service,” Taylor added.

Food is not all the cupboard will be giving out this year; each Thanksgiving the South Portland Lions Club donates 175, $25 gift cards to be given to South Portland residents, Riemensnider said. The cards are good for shopping at Legion Square Market for anything but cigarettes and alcohol.

Riemensnider said most of the food is purchased in bulk from local suppliers Native Maine Produce and Legion Square Market, and the pantry receives donations from Scratch Bakery, Mill Creek Hannaford, and others.

The South Portland Food Cupboard always accepts donations, especially during the holidays.

“We are asking for monetary donations and turkeys – with your help, we can help many,” Riemensnider said. To help, contact the South Portland Food Cupboard at 874-0379.

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