A FOOD REQUEST — Nonperishable food is needed now to stock the shelves at the new location of the Harrison Food Bank. The future food bank will be located in the Ronald G. St. John VFW Post 9328 at 176 Waterford Road — that is where donations can be accepted. (De Busk Photo)
Sweden food pantry opens doors to Harrison
By Dawn De Busk
SWEDEN — Resident Shirley Crowe knows the importance of being a good neighbor.
After all, like so many people in the Lake Region communities, she works at a food pantry. Crowe helps to operate the Sweden Food Pantry.
When she heard about the closure of the Harrison Food Pantry this fall, she knew that it would be a natural transition to offer food distributions to Harrison residents.
The food pantries in most towns are set up to serve only residents of that town.
“We don’t have any restrictions that way. We have people from Lovell, Stow, Stoneham and even Fryeburg. So, we are open to taking people from Harrison,” Crowe said. “That’s what being neighbors is about.”
The Sweden Food Pantry is located in the Sweden Community Church United Church of Christ, 137 Bridgton Road.
The Sweden Food Pantry is open twice a month, on the first and third Wednesday of the month. The pantry is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
People are allowed to do shopping from the selection of food laid out on the tables, Crowe said.
The church is easy to find, she said. “It’s right on Route 93, also called Bridgton Road,” she noted.
The next food distribution at the Sweden Food Pantry is Dec. 7.
“We do require a driver’s license, and one utility bill or another form of ID,” Crowe said.
“We use the program, Temporary Food Assistance Program (TFAP). And, we have to report to them,” Crowe said, explaining why there are ID requirements.
“We had four new people the last time we were open, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I don’t know if they were from Harrison or not,” she said. “We service between 40 and 50 people a month. We have at least 75 names on the list. Some come once, some once a month,” she added.
Crowe commented on the Catch 22 of working at a food pantry.
“You are open, hoping you close. But, I worked at a food pantry in Worchester for five years. So, I know there is a growing need,” she said.
At the previous food pantry, where Crowe volunteered, they “handed out maybe two grocery bags of food.”
People using the Sweden Food Pantry get a nice bounty, she said.
“What we do now, everyone gets at least two banana boxes full,” Crowe said.
By Dawn De Busk
HARRISON — The Harrison Food Pantry closed its doors in September, leaving a void for residents who depended on the bi-monthly food distributions.
Community members have been working hard to fill that void by setting up the future Harrison Food Bank, which will be located at the Ronald G. St. John VFW Post 9328 at 176 Waterford Road.
A former director of the food pantry that closed its doors confirmed a replacement pantry was in the making, and food donations are very much needed.
Barbara Merrill was the director of the Harrison Food Pantry until the end of 2015, she said. Merrill was not in the state of Maine at the time that she was interviewed.
But, she has been keeping in touch with volunteer Kevin Varney and both of them have been updating posts on the food pantry’s Facebook page.
“It closed at the end of September,” she said.
“We will be opening another one at the VFW hall in Harrison. It will be called the Harrison Food Bank,” she said.
“As soon as they can get everything ready” it will be open to the public, she said.
People have moved an extra fridge and a freezer into the space that will be used for the food bank, she said.
“Someone donated those brand new from Lowe’s” Home Improvement store, Merrill said.
“Someone is donating their service and time for building the shelves,” she said.
Merrill did not have handy a contact number for Varney, who is currently involved with setting up the food bank to remedy the closure of the food pantry.
Donations can be dropped off at the VFW Post, which is located at 176 Waterford Rd., or at the Harrison Lions Den, 46 Main St.
“We are in bad need of donations,” Merrill said.