AIO Awarded Grant Through FairPoint Connected Communities
Photos courtesy of Beth Birmingham of the Courier Gazette
FairPoint Communications is committed to connecting the people, businesses and communities of Maine. Launched in May 2017, FairPoint Connected Communities is a new initiative to celebrate FairPoint’s commitment to ‘connecting Maine communities’ and to honor Maine non-profit organizations that serve those communities.
FairPoint invited all Maine-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations to apply, and an astounding 156 organizations submitted applications.
FairPoint is excited to announce that Area Interfaith Outreach (AIO) of Rockland; Grahamtastic Connection of Springvale; and Sunrise Opportunities of Machias will each receive a $16,000 grant and a technology package customized to help advance its charitable mission.
Demand Prompts Food Pantry to Seek Larger Quarters
Sharply higher demand has led Area Interfaith Outreach to seek larger quarters to meet the needs of Knox County residents in need of food. The AIO Board of Directors voted last month to launch a fundraising campaign to buy a larger building for its food pantry. Last year, AIO served nearly 13,000 people. In addition, 310 children were served through the backpack program that sends food home with students on the weekends.
Four years ago, Cobb said, an average day saw about 25 people come into the food pantry located in an 1,800-square-foot building at the intersection of Thomaston Street and Broadway in Rockland. Each of the past two years has seen an increase of 30 percent in the number of people needing food from the pantry.
Village Soup May 2017: Demand prompts food pantry to seek larger quarters
AIO Food Pantry Report for last Fiscal Year
(October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016)
We keep records of food donated by how much it weighs (tabulating its cost would be impossible). The total pounds donated last fiscal year was 258,089 pounds (or 129 tons).
That includes shelf-stable food, bread (Atlantic Baking Company) and donuts (Willow Street), fresh produce from Walmart, Hannaford and local gardeners, deli products from Shaw’s, and frozen-before-sell-by-date meat from Hannaford and Walmart.
We also purchase food every month from Good Shepherd Food Bank at below wholesale, though varieties are often limited. When staples like canned soups, ravioli, mac and cheese, tuna, or peanut butter are unavailable for a while, we shop at local groceries, hunting for specials.
AIO Emergency Assistance last Fiscal Year
Other vouchers were for water, preventing eviction, transportation, and medication. A household can receive up to $300 per year. It’s not a lot but it often can feel life-saving.
We also suggest other places to get help.
Backpack Program news
300 kids. 17 schools. As our second school year ends, AIO’s Weekend Backpack Program is packing weekend food for 300 children in sixteen Knox County schools, plus stocking the shelves at an in-school food pantry at Medomak Valley High School for 20 teens who can “shop” the shelves and choose. [Expand to read more...]
Weekend Backpack participating schools are: Camden-Rockport Elementary School; Child Development Service pre-school; Cushing Community School; Friendship Village School; Gilford Butler School; Medomak Valley High School; Miller Elementary School; Oceanside Middle School; Old South Elementary; Penquis Pre-K; Owls Head Central School; Prescott Memorial School; South Elementary School; St. George Elementary School; Thomaston Grammar School; Union Elementary School; and Warren Community School.
Fresh produce. An arrangement through Good Shepherd Food Bank with the Waldoboro Hannaford is providing fresh produce to two of our schools - Medomak Valley High School on Thursdays and Miller Elementary School on Tuesdays. Volunteers sort and cull the fruit and vegetables, and arrange it on tables, and in both schools, kids can choose and bag their produce before heading home. (Note: Miller School is in Waldoboro, which is in Lincoln County, but Miller is in RSU 40 and sends its kids to middle school and high school in Knox. Therefore the AIO backpack program decided to adopt Miller.)
Listening Friend dolls. Throughout this school year, wherever we found people knitting or mentioning that they knitted, we jumped on them and asked if they’d make a few dolls for the backpack kids. The response has been heart-warming. We counted about 150 when we were done, enough for all the kindergarten through third graders in the backpack program. At the end of April, all those children opened their food bags to find a 9-inch cuddly doll, tied with a label – Listening Friend “A friend to talk to” and a note printed over a heart: “A nice lady who lives near here made this cuddly doll for you because she loves children. She hopes this doll will be your special friend.”
The army of knitters seem willing to keep going, so we’ll do this again next year, for the new kindergarten children and others who are new to the backpack program. Here’s the knitting pattern, for anyone who wants to help.