December 1, 2023

Windham Food Pantry prepares for a busy holiday season

By Masha Yurkevich

As the time nears for another holiday season, not everyone is fortunate enough to put a grand celebrational meal on the table. But the Windham Food Pantry doesn’t want anyone to miss out on a holiday meal and serves everyone from low-income families, single parents, senior citizens, unemployed individuals, disabled veterans, working poor, and anyone else that comes to the pantry.

The Windham Food Pantry is facing a dire
shortage of paper products such as toilet paper,
facial tissues, paper towels and cleaning
products such as dish detergent and laundry
soap. The pantry accepts donations of both
non-perishable goods and money to help
those in need. FILE PHOTO  
Colette Gagnon is the Social Service Admin Assistant at the Windham Food Pantry and says that at this time of year, they are double as busy as they usually are throughout the rest of the year serving families and individuals.

For Thanksgiving, the food pantry made Thanksgiving baskets to hand out to those in need, which typically consisted of turkey, canned veggies, stuffing (boxes), gravy jars, canned cranberry sauce, potatoes, pie, bread, rolls, milk, eggs, Jiffy corn mix, brownies mix, olives and cake mix with frosting. And while making Thanksgiving Baskets is over for this year, putting together and reserving Christmas Baskets has now begun at Windham Food Pantry.

“This Thanksgiving season we have helped more than 90 households,” says Gagnon. “And each year we hope to accomplish what we set out to aim for: Providing those in need a Thanksgiving meal and Christmas meal.”

The food pantry is always looking for help from the public, especially at this time of year and the need is great. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, food prices across America are now 13.5 percent higher than in 2022 and the continued increase is driving many who are food-insecure to visit food banks seeking help.

Data collected during the Covid-19 pandemic showed that Maine had the highest level of food insecurity in the entire New England region, with 6.9 percent of older adults in Maine at risk of hunger, and 18 percent of children in Maine living at or below the established poverty level.

But just as food pantries are seeing a greater demand, it happens to be a cutting-edged sword, as rising food costs also impact the amount of food that the food pantries can obtain.

Gagnon suggests that the community can help Windham Food Pantry by making direct donations.

“We accept donations to our food drives, donations of checks to Windham Food Pantry, 8 School Road, Windham, or donations of food directly to the Windham Food Pantry,” she said.

Some of the hardships that the Windham Food Pantry is facing right now is a dire shortage in paper products such as toilet paper, facial tissues, paper towels, and cleaning products such as dish detergent, and laundry soap.

In comparison to previous years, Gagnon says that this year food pantry volunteers have noticed that they do need more donated items than in the past.

As the Christmas season is here, the community can help prepare the pantry and serve the community. Donations are always welcome and encouraged either as donations of food directly to the Windham Food Pantry or donations of checks mailed to the Windham Food Pantry.

Gagnon said that the Windham Food Pantry also has a Toy Workshop for younger children as the Christmas season approaches.

If someone needs help this holiday season, the Windham Food Pantry has its doors open and serves anyone in need, Gagnon said.

Individuals and families seeking assistance are asked to call 207-892-1931 before Dec. 5 to let them know if you are in need of a meal for Christmas. <

The Windham Food Pantry thanks the Windham community for their generosity and for all that they do to help those in need. <

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