Inside the pantry are two different rooms where the food is stored. The first room contains freezers for frozen meats and bread and refrigerators for eggs and dairy. They were able to purchase these freezers with the help of the Food Bank’s Capacity Building Grants. Next to the coolers are shelves for shelf-stable food and stacks of food boxes ready for distribution. Each box has snacks, juice, milk, canned fruits and vegetables, cereal, and more.
The second room is where they keep the fresh produce and hygiene items. Almost all the produce comes from one of Good Shepherd Food Bank’s Mainers Feeding Mainers farm partners, Middle Intervale Farm. This helps to ensure that neighbors get the freshest and most nutritious produce possible, all while supporting a local farm. The pantry mainly receives potatoes but also get other produce too. Any produce that goes unused is placed in the compost bins outside. This compost goes back to Middle Intervale Farm! The pantry also has a program to connect other pantries in Oxford County with local produce from nearby farms. Participating farms include Middle Intervale Farm, Swain’s Farm, Sparrowhawk Orchard, Howe Family Farm, Chapman Brook Farm, and participating pantries include Andover Food Pantry, Woodstock Food Pantry, Progress Center Food Pantry, Old School Food Pantry, Peru Food Pantry, Stevens Memorial Hospital Food Pantry. Once the food is unloaded and put away, the volunteers help prepare the bags of produce and load the conveyor belt for when the first clients come.
On that day, the produce room was filled with fresh onions, potatoes, cucumbers, and summer squash. Dave had volunteers busy storing away the Food Bank order and some sorting through produce. Once the bags were ready to roll, they did just that! Bags were rolled up the conveyor belt and out the door into neighbors’ trunks. Cars continued to go through the line, happy they were leaving with two weeks’ worth of nutritious food for their family.
The pantry utilizes a drive-thru model for food distribution. They believe that this is more equitable in serving their community. Neighbors pull up in their cars to the side of the building, where a volunteer greets them. The volunteer checks the neighbor in on paper and fills out all the intake forms. Once they’re checked in, the neighbor’s car is loaded. Outside on the side of the building are a few carts of extra items. Dave calls these choice carts, filled with items that neighbors can select as extras to add to their food box.