Hunger Games Raises $700 for Food Pantry

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The students of Calais Middle High School's Student Councils and National Honor Society stand with Len Hanson of the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry to present a donation of $700, all of which was raised through the Hunger Games. The pantry's client list continues to expand, with more than 1,500 individuals now served. (Photo by Lura Jackson) See more photos and article on page 5.

By Lura Jackson

 

The students of Calais Middle High School’s Student Councils and National Honor Society raised $700 for the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry during this year’s Hunger Games on April 9th, bringing the total raised over the past six years to more than $7,000. The funds will offset the costs of the pantry’s various support programs, which are being increasingly utilized by a growing roster of clients.

The Hunger Games are designed to raise awareness of hunger, including recognizing that the term has been replaced in government reports by the less-impactful term “food insecure”. Guests that came to the event drew colored stones to determine what dining experience they would have for the evening, potentially landing in one of six tiers.

During his welcoming address, Dylan Carrier spoke to diners about what the “social-psychological event” represented. “How do you react when others seated next to you at work or at school do not have enough to eat? Do you share? Look away? Remove yourself from the situation? As you enjoy your meal, we would ask you to consider these questions. All money raised tonight will go directly to the local food pantry, because hunger does not take a vacation.”

Throughout the night, Kylie Donovan provided diners with facts about hunger, including how 13 percent of people in Maine don’t always have enough food to feed their families, and that 28.5 percent of Calais residents live below the poverty line.

The number of seats available in each tier was a percentage based on actual numbers pertaining to Washington County. As such, there were many more seats available in the lower tiers. At the top tier, six diners were provided with a gourmet meal from the St. Croix Regional Technical Center’s Culinary Arts students utilizing MELMAC funds. Their course included crab cakes with bacon jam, ribeye steaks, and cheesecake. In tier 2, 18 diners received chicken parmesan from the New Friendly Restaurant. In tier 3, 36 meals of lasagna from Nino’s were paired with éclair cake or a whoopie pie from Karen Hood and John Moody. In tier 4, Karen’s Corner Pub and Dawn McClure provided 18 meals of homemade mac and cheese, red hot dogs, and corn muffins, while at tier 5 Bell’s IGA supplied 24 meals of pizza. The lowest tier consisted of 12 meals of chicken nuggets, once again from Bell’s IGA. In every case, the meals were donated to the event.

Two certificates were presented during the evening in recognition of two individuals that have consistently provided meals to the Hunger Games for the past six years: Husa Egan, who has guided the culinary students of St. Croix Regional Tech Center through the creation of six meals for the top tier each year, and John Marchese, who came forward in a particularly generous fashion last year when he effectively provided half of the 125 meals served.

Guests were pleased with the event. “It was very nice, I’m glad I came,” said Maxine Palmeter. “Especially for the young ones, it showed them the differences in the meals they could get.” Palmeter was accompanied by Megan Lord, who concurred, “It was good.” Neither had attended the event before.

It was also Joan Perry’s first time attending the Hunger Games. “I lucked out and got the middle of the road,” laughed Perry, who drew tier 3. “I think it’s an excellent event and I really appreciate what they’re doing for the food pantry.”

The impact on the food pantry is particularly important as the organization has been continually expanding. Len Hanson, one of its coordinators, spoke to the crowd about its various projects, including an upcoming long term personal development shelter located above the thrift store annex. Through the pantry alone, more than 1,500 clients are now assisted – up from around 100 a mere fifteen years ago.

“This is the largest pantry in Washington, Hancock and Aroostook County, and it is larger than any individual pantry north of Portland,” Hanson said. “All of this is done with local donations and grant writing, with all of the work done by volunteers.”

 

Hanson praised the students of CMHS for their efforts in raising funds for the pantry through their various projects. “They have provided donations through the Turkey-a-thon, the Hunger Games, and JMG, all helping local families make sure there is food on their tables.”


 

The CMHS Jazz Band provided musical entertainment for the evening under the guidance of Christine Proefrock. Other entertainers included Cassidy Carr, Tristan Seavey, and Hannah Alley. (Photo by Lura Jackson)


 

Students served diners their meals throughout the night, with their attire appropriate for their associated tier. Here Kylie Donovan is serving chicken parmesan from the New Friendly Restaurant to a group at tier 2. (Photo by Lura Jackson)