On the southeastern coast of Maine, community, programs, and dignity grows at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP). Nestled in the heart of Brunswick is MCHPP, a nonprofit that envisions a community where quality, nutritious food is available for all.
Within their doors in downtown Brunswick, they operate a soup kitchen and food pantry where they meet the needs of the community by offering access to healthy food, serving delicious ready-to-go meals out their door curbside, and offering an online ordering system where neighbors can select the items they want and need, and a box will be ready to pick up on their choice of day and time. MCHPP also offers mobile, school, and satellite pantries across Cumberland, Androscoggin, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox, and Waldo counties. They are meeting neighbors where they are and breaking transportation barriers. MCHPP is also known for celebrating the differences of their friends and neighbors, they aim to remove barriers to healthful meals for all community members in need regardless of race, color, age, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. They are committed to creating an environment of inclusion.
Due to the pandemic, in 2020, MCHPP transferred to a curbside model for health and safety. With the increased need, they quickly started to outgrow their space. In 2022, they opened a new warehouse facility to store more food and for their administrative office. They are currently refreshing their pantry and soup kitchen to open their doors for a shopping model. The new warehouse facility gives them more breathing room to make the pantry space inviting and fresh.
On our visit, we met with Executive Director Karen Parker and Deputy Director Hannah Chatalbash. They gave us a tour of the new warehouse and introduced us to a few busy volunteers, staff, and community members, making food in the community kitchen and sorting through produce. One volunteer, John, has been volunteering with Midcoast Hunger Prevention for about three and a half years. He was boxing and sorting because it was a Thursday, but he also shared that he volunteers with his wife, Deb, in the kitchen on Monday and Wednesdays. “I come for the people,” he explained that he started before the pandemic serving food to neighbors when there was indoor seating and enjoyed shifting to new tasks during the pandemic. “We love the staff at Midcoast, and it is a pleasure to be associated with such a great group of people.”
In addition to the extra space for food, the new warehouse has a community kitchen where the MCHPP staff prepares meals with excess produce, ensuring that nothing goes to waste. “Extending the life of fresh Maine produce so our neighbors can enjoy fresh all year long, and it’s local, that’s the best part,” stated Hannah. For example, in the fall of 2022, Whatley Farm donated nearly 500 pounds of second carrots. MCHPP went to the drawing board and decided to make a delicious Curried Carrots Coconut Soup and then freeze batches of it into individual packages for distribution to neighbors in the winter. The recipe can be found on our nutrition website, http://www.NutritionForME.org. Other nonprofit organizations and community members also use the community kitchen. “It’s a creative space, and we’ve enjoyed seeing what the community does with it.”
MCHPP’s Merrrymeeting Gleaners program is led by a staff coordinator who organizes volunteers to visit local farms and harvest surplus produce from fields for distribution across the region. Another summer program is the Summer Food Service Program, where the pantry partners with camps, libraries, and more to provide lunches during months when students aren’t in school.
MCHPP strives to offer dignity and empowerment by providing all community members with access to healthy food.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Fridays – 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tuesday evening – 4 to 6 p.m.
Saturday – 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
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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