On a warm summer afternoon, we headed south from our Auburn distribution center to the small, quintessential coastal town of Kennebunk, Maine, to visit Community Outreach Services (COS). COS serves the communities of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel by providing food, fuel assistance, and other needs to community members. Their neighbors can come once a week to get the food they need, and each week COS sees 80-100 neighbors.
When stepping into their building, the welcoming atmosphere and community are present within the walls of this pantry. The walls are covered with bright artwork and inspirational quotes designed to greet neighbors.
Volunteers are like old friends here, ready to help neighbors make their way through the aisles of the pantry and open to conversation about what food they need, like, and dislike. On our visit, we met with Executive Director Mark Jago. He walked us through the process of visiting the pantry and answered all our questions about operations at COS.
Mark shared that when neighbors visit the pantry, they start by filling out a form to receive food. This form asks for minimal information to help them learn more about the community they’re serving. It also allows COS volunteers and staff to build relationships with each neighbor. To learn more about their needs and wants. Once the neighbor is checked in, a volunteer assists them with their shopping by bagging the food as they go along.
One of the first food items neighbors see is fresh produce. This produce is grown primarily by a local community garden. Growing local food helps to ensure that their neighbors get food at its peak nutrition. In the middle of the market, neighbors can pick from a variety of shelf-stable foods such as baking supplies, fruits, veggies, canned meats, breakfast items, pasta, and condiments. The back wall has personal hygiene products and pet food. The pantry has found that some people spend their money feeding their pets rather than themselves. So, COS provides options for pets so their neighbors can have more money to buy the things they need. They also have a freezer with meat and a cooler with dairy and eggs. There is usually a variety of meat so that neighbors can pick one from each kind of meat. Sometimes they have fresh salad and fruit.
COS has a particular area for those who need gluten-free products. They have a great assortment to help their neighbors get the food that meets their nutritional needs. The pantry has a section of donated items that are not food. Neighbors can browse this section to see if there is anything they need or want.
In addition to the in-person shopping model, COS delivers to 80 homes monthly. These home deliveries are for people who cannot come in person. A volunteer will call the neighbor to find out what the neighbor needs. Another COS program is Food4Kids. Food4Kids provides a bag of food to students in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Arundel. This bag is intended to supplement meals for a week. Each pack costs $20 to provide, and COS makes about 70 bags each week for students. Families can pick up the bags from the town office or at COS.
COS is committed to ensuring that its neighbors have what they need and that the food is healthy and nutritious. They rely heavily on community support to continue providing a variety of choices to community members. Any food that goes unused or is not safe to eat is picked up by chicken farmers (especially bread) or put in a compost bin! They make sure that there is almost no waste. COS Food Pantry Hours (by appointment only – see below)
Food Pantry Appointments
Request online – click here to request an appointment time
Call during pantry hours: 207-985-3844
Schedule in person during pantry hours: 19 Park Street, Kennebunk
With our partner agencies spread throughout the entire state, there will likely be help nearby if you need food. If you’re looking for help or interested in donating food or volunteering at your local food pantry, please visit our Food Map to find a pantry near you.
Good Shepherd Food Bank works in partnership with nearly 600 hunger-relief organizations, located from Kittery to Fort Kent, to help distribute food to community members in need. Our network of partner agencies includes food pantries, meal sites, senior centers, school programs, and healthcare facilities.
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