When arriving at Footprints Food Pantry in Kittery, Maine, you are greeted with an array of fresh produce displayed at the front entrance. Like a farmers’ market, Footprints Food Pantry displays its fresh produce outside for neighbors to select what they’d like to take home. As one of our southern Maine partners, Footprints works to reduce the impact of hunger in the communities of Kittery, Kittery Point, and Eliot and to share resources and support the lives of those who have joined the Footprints’ community.
We were lucky to be able to visit the pantry on a market day, and third-year volunteer Tracy welcomed us. When we asked her why she volunteers at Footprints, she responded quickly, “The neighbors and other volunteers here are wonderful. Volunteering is a great social activity for me, and I love the exercise. It’s satisfying work.” Footprints currently has 72 active volunteers and over 26 on their waiting list. With various jobs, from greeting neighbors, packing boxes, stocking shelves, making meal kits, and delivery driving, all volunteers seem to bustle around the pantry with a smile and a willingness to help wherever they are needed.
Footprints Food Pantry was established in 1992 and has resided in the same small space, with little visibility, to individuals living in the surrounding towns, but are outgrowing the location. Although the area has served them well for the past 30 years, they started to dream big and search for a new space for their food distribution and a place to collaborate with local organizations aligning with their mission.
“The charitable food system has been serving individuals food in the same manner for years. The Emergency Food Assistance Program was designed for that, emergency food assistance. Yet, this has become an outdated model that has huge value to our society and has fed many but is not a long-term solution to ending hunger,” stated Executive Director Megan Shapiro Ross. “Footprints is embarking on a new, collaborative project to address a long-term solution to end hunger but also to eradicate poverty. We don’t believe they can be done separately, and we look forward to empowering individuals to actively participate in gaining independence.”
Footprints Food Pantry has been collaborating with Fair Tide, an affordable housing nonprofit, in designing Mainspring, a resource hub that will offer wraparound services – including housing a collection of social service agencies that will offer individuals a coordinated entry process and a one-stop shop for assistance. Footprints applied for and was awarded a Capacity Building Grant from Good Shepherd Food Bank, which helped them launch the capital campaign that will make this dream a reality. “I’m so excited! This is a start to helping people build the capacity to build their own lives,” said Megan.
The new hub will expand on its current offerings and programs. Currently, Footprints offers weekly shopping with a choice and packaging model. The pantry provides each neighbor with a piece of paper that has a menu of what’s available so they can select what they want and need. Then with the food sheet filled out, the menu travels inside the pantry and volunteers pack the box for the neighbor to take home.
This model will shift to a daily shopping model when the new hub opens, where neighbors have a grocery store experience and can visit more hours throughout the week. Along with their weekly shopping, Footprints also provides home deliveries and offers online ordering like Hannaford and Walmart to-go.
Unique to the pantry is its meal kit program. Volunteers prepare a meal kit in a bag each market day with a recipe and all the ingredients to make the meal. When we visited, the kit of the day was a pot roast. Inside the bag was the recipe with the exact portioned-out spices, beef broth, onions, carrots, and the roast. They also offer Phinn’s Pet Food Pantry for neighbors with four-legged friends at home. In the summer, community gardens with fresh-grown produce are in front of the building.
The Food Pantry is also home to the Community Support Fund. This new emergency fund is distributed by the pantry and is offered to anyone needing a little extra help. Neighbors apply, and funds get distributed as needed. The fund has supported hotel expenses, workforce support, etc.
Footprints Food Pantry is dedicated to ensuring that no member of the community is food insecure. They are working toward eradicating food insecurity in the community and looking at ways to provide individual support in all areas through collaboration with other community service agencies to best meet all needs of each individual and family. They are open three days a week for in-person, client-choice food shopping and deliver one day a week to homebound seniors and to individuals unable to access the pantry in person.
Tuesdays 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Wednesdays 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Saturdays 9:00 – 10:00 AM
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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