Lions Team Up with Food Pantry to Help End Hunger

Presenting a donation of $300 to Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry coordinator David Sivret (left) are Lions Ben Knowles (center) and Ron Hanbury. The Lions are actively working with the pantry to rally resources to combat hunger. (Photo by Lura Jackson). See story on page 2.

By Lura Jackson

 

The Calais Lions Club is donating its resources to the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry [ICEFP] to assist the organization with its task of feeding more than 1,000 local families who are at risk of not having enough to eat. The Lions Club has made cash contributions and are exploring ways to garner additional support in the form of volunteers.

The ICEFP began humbly in the mid-1990s in the basement of the Immaculate Conception Church in Calais. It moved into its own space a decade later when Ruth Brogan donated her home on Main Street with the understanding that it be used for food distribution to the needy. At that time, there were about 100 local families on the client list.

Over the past 15 years, the number of families accessing the Calais food pantry has increased tenfold as a result of a downturn in the economy and the closure of two other food pantries in the county. The pantry has continued to expand to meet the need through the efforts of volunteers and through the acquisition of grants, but the need is constant. Families assisted by the Calais pantry come from as far away as Perry, Wesley and Danforth – and all points in between.

For Ron Hanbury of the Calais Lions, hearing about the number of families needing assistance in the area compelled him to want to do more. “There’s poverty, there’s hunger, there’s food insecurity everywhere,” Hanbury said. “When you think about 1,000 families in this area – and this is not a huge area… I wish a lot of organizations like the Lions would take a stand and help. Every little bit helps.”

The Calais Lions Club is an active supporter of local families through fundraising and donations, aligning itself perfectly with the international Lions Club’s vision of ending worldwide hunger.

The ICEFP relies on a network of volunteers and support organizations to accomplish its mission. They are assisted occasionally by volunteers from the school, particularly the JMG program, and AFS international students have routinely volunteered. Lion Ben Knowles expressed that he felt he could bring in more youth volunteers for what he recognizes as a very valuable community operation. “It’s incredible here,” Knowles said while visiting the pantry. “I knew you were doing a lot, but I didn’t know how much.”

Along with providing food to clients who come to the pantry, the ICEFP maintains a secondary program for school children. Dozens of backpacks are sent out at the end of each week, all of them bearing foods that will ensure a child has some food for the weekend regardless of their home situation. Backpacks are sent to Charlotte, Woodland and Princeton as well as to Calais and Calais Alternative School.

Volunteers are requested to help with the constant work required to pick up donated goods, transport them and store them at the pantry. Pickups from Wal-Mart and Shop and Save are made from Monday through Saturday. Two major deliveries come on Wednesdays from Good Shepherd, and help is always appreciated in unloading and storing the incoming food.

The pantry is currently seeking financial support for two major costs. It is seeking to acquire a second upright freezer at a cost of $3,700, which may come from grant funds. Additional assistance is needed to offset necessary repairs required by its primary transporting truck, which had manifold issues and a leaky transmission. Repairs to the truck will cost $5,000.

“People say, ‘What can one person do?’ One person can do a heck of a lot,” said ICEFP coordinator David Sivret. “There are plenty of stories about that.”

 

To contact the ICEFP and find out how you can help, contact David Sivret at davidsivret@irenechadbournecommunityprograms.com or call 214-4487 and leave a message.