WINSLOW — For more than 60 years, the St. John Food Pantry has provided a meal to anyone who walks through its doors in the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

The pantry wants to spend many more years providing the service, but unless it can find a new location volunteers fear the pantry may have to close.

The church, at 26 Monument St., is not affiliated with the pantry and previously told coordinator Anne Hodgdon that the pantry has outgrown its 40-by-18-foot space and should look for a new location.

But finding one has proven to be hugely difficult.

“Our basic goal is to find a place that is handicap-accessible,” Hodgdon said. “If we don’t find a new location we’re going to end up having to close our doors, and that’s the last thing we want.”

She said the pantry does not have much money so finding a location has been a struggle. She had hoped someone would have space to donate to the pantry, perhaps as a tax write-off.

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The pantry wants a location that is on one floor so that unloading truck shipments would be easier for volunteers. The average age of those volunteers is about 63 to 64 years old, so lugging pallets from forklifts and up stairs can be a challenge, she said.

The intention is to stay in the Winslow/Benton area, and if a new spot is found the pantry would change its name to Winslow Helping Hands Food Pantry.

“We serve anyone, you can come from anywhere,” Hodgdon said. “We don’t just serve Winslow.”

The St. John Food Pantry is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month.

Volunteers are looking for new space that’s approximately 150-by-100 feet with available parking. The pantry is currently offering a drive-thru service because the church basement cannot accommodate many people while social distancing.

Hodgdon took over as coordinator in 2009 when her husband died of cancer at 47, which is the source of her devotion to the pantry. She needed something else to focus on.

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“It’s been a passion of mine to feed people forever,” Hodgdon said. “It feels good to help people. Feels good to give back to the community.”

The pantry each month provides food to 360 to 420 people. That food is provided by the Good Shepherd Food Bank and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, monetary donations and fundraisers.

Anne Hodgdon is the coordinator of the St. John Food Pantry in Winslow. The pantry is located in the basement of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Hodgdon has worked for months trying to find a new home for the pantry. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

On April 23 volunteers will participate in the Feed ME 5K Walk, a fundraiser put on by the Maine State Credit Union that helps the pantry with much of its funding.

The walk will take place at Capitol Park in Augusta.

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