Spaghetti dinner to help local food pantries

What: Empty Bowl Dinner, a fundraiser for nine area food pantries

When: Monday, 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Crooked River Adult Education Building, off Route 11 in Casco

Cost: $10 per meal, cash only, includes meal and souvenir bowl decorated by area children 

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — A plate of spaghetti speaks volumes.

For some, it might conjure up the scene from the Disney cartoon, Lady and the Tramp, when the sharing of a single piece of spaghetti results in an accidental but romantic kiss.

For others, it is a part of the quintessential Italian meal, during which time the family gathers around the table with an abundance of food and offers compliments to the cook.

This Monday, a plate of spaghetti will help to buy much needed food for local pantries.

In addition to the meal, those folks who sit down for a community dinner at the Crooked River Elementary School will hear guest speakers talk about the issue of hunger in the region.

Some of the speakers include Michelle Lamm, with the Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative; John Woods, with Share our Strength of Maine; and a representative from Good Shepherd Food Bank.

In addition to those people employed in the field of social services, a recipient of food stamps and a client of the food pantry in Sweden will tell a first-hand story.

According to Bridgton resident Virginia “Tilla” Durr, who has volunteered for the Sweden food pantry for four years, some of the people who benefit from the pantry might be willing to briefly tell their stories as well.

“There are all kinds of people in the pantry who are geared up. A lot of them would like to participate,” Durr said.

“Everyone could quickly talk about their experiences,” she said.

Durr said it was important “to have as many people as possible come to the fundraiser.”

Not only is it imperative to raise money for pantry products and produce, but also “as a startup to get people taking” about food insecurity in their community.

Many households are one paycheck or one life episode away from needing assistance with food. It could be that one time that their vehicle breaks down and needs mechanical work — a major cost that wasn’t in the budget, or an injury that temporarily puts them out of work without insurance coverage, or getting laid off from a job.

“It’s scary when you think about how close some people live to being in line at a local food pantry,” she said.

The CrossWalk Community Outreach Director Joanna Moore said this fundraiser is vital to supplementing the expenses involved in keeping a food pantry stocked.

Pantries must pay for pallets and boxes of food plus the cost of transportation involved in getting food to the distribution site, Moore said.

“Our fundraising is ongoing. We are continually researching available grants, speaking to potential donors. We continually reach out to business owners and others in our community and to others in the Greater Portland community to share what we do in hopes that we will get their support to continue our mission,” she said.

“We also get some of our food from the USDA quarterly, and we take advantage of food rescue opportunities at Hannaford weekly and in Portland at Wayside Food Rescue,” she said.

“We often go to speak directly to farmers in our area to donate fresh produce for our pantry as well, so that we can continue to share fresh, nutritious food with our community members,” Moore said.

“Pantry leaders all over the Lake Region do this type of work for their communities to bring much needed food to those who need it most,” she said.

“We are not alone doing this work. There are hundreds of dedicated volunteers in our area donating hundreds of hours in serving in this capacity,” she said.

“It is an ongoing nonstop endeavor. The wheels never stop,” Moore said.

Hannaford of Bridgton is supplying the ingredients for the meal. The Bridgton Lakes Region Rotary Club will be serving the food, which will include spaghetti with freshly-made tomato sauce, a garden salad, bread or rolls, plus dessert. Under the direction of Kim Whalen Litchfield, school children in the Casco-Naples Before and Aftercare Program have painted the bowls that will be presented to participants as souvenirs to take home.

Tickets will be sold at the door for $10, and only cash can be accepted.

One hundred percent of that night’s proceeds will benefit nine Lake Region pantries, according to Moore.

So what is on the menu this Monday night?

It might be spaghetti, and a delicious opportunity to help out people in the community.


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