Thomaston food pantry serves Knox County for 20 years
Thomaston — The Interfaith Food Pantry in Thomaston has served residents of Knox County for 20 years, and currently provides food for 300 people. "We've been busy," said volunteer Jim Smith.
The food pantry was started by Jim McCamant of the Thomaston Federated Church and other church members in town to combat local malnutrition.
Gwendolyn Ranquist, who turns 90 this winter, was involved with the pantry from the "day it opened its doors." She said she thought it was a good thing to do to occupy her time and mind. "It was a good experience. I met a lot of nice people and it's a good thing to help people. What you put in you get back."
Ranquist said when the interfaith pantry started, there were a lot of people involved because it was one of the only food pantries in the area.
Country Kitchen donates bread and Smith said Oceanside High School and the Boy Scouts are affiliated with the pantry, holding food drives to provide additional support. Four times a year the pantry receives federal assistance, receiving cases of items such as meat and vegetables.
Food donations as well as coupons are always appreciated and in demand. Volunteer Karen Wincapaw shops for the pantry using coupons. "She's a whiz," said fellow volunteer Janice Ifemey.
Wincapaw can buy $100 worth of groceries and spend only $2 or $3.
It costs the pantry about $1,000 a month to supply food for people in need of assistance.
"The cost of groceries has gone up, so it's a challenge to keep our shelves stocked," said Smith.
The Thomaston Baptist, Episcopal, Federated and Assembly of God parishes are involved as well as the Catholic Church in Rockland to maintain the pantry. About 12 volunteers staff the operation along with regular visits from Bongo the cat.
"Without the food pantry, a lot of people would be hurting," said Smith, adding that some receiving assistance have eight members in their family.
"It's supplemental to food stamps," said volunteer Nancy Terrio.
At Thanksgiving the pantry provides holiday baskets to Thomaston residents supplied by the town office.
"It takes a whole community to help support this," said Smith. "It amazes me how we can help so many people and there are so many people now that need it."
Smith said community involvement is imperative to the pantry's function and donations are always appreciated. The food pantry is open each Tuesday and Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Watts Hall on Main Street. Checks can be sent to Thomaston Food Pantry, 192 Main St., Apartment 306, Thomaston, ME 04861.
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or by email at JLaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com