Deborah A. Jean, second from left, selects a head of cabbage Wednesday as Jodi Waterhouse of Catholic Charities of Maine, right, assists at Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church at 273 Water St. in Skowhegan. The event is organized by the Winslow Community Cupboard. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

WINSLOW — A food pantry based in Winslow received a grant in the fall that allowed it to buy two refrigerated trailers and expand its efforts by traveling to several communities each week to deliver fresh produce and groceries to people free of charge.

The Winslow Community Cupboard received a grant of more than $86,000 in October from Good Shepherd Food Bank, its partner organization based in Auburn.

Since 2020, the Community Cupboard has served hundreds of families from Winslow and neighboring communities every two weeks at the Congregational Church at 12 Lithgow St., but the grant has allowed it to extend its reach.

Operations Manager Bruce Bottigliere said the pantry was able to buy two refrigerated trailers with the grant. Using data he collected on the people who most often use the pantry, Bottigliere mapped out which towns were most in need of the Community Cupboard’s services and brought the food pantry to them.

Brenda Whitney bags fresh produce Wednesday while helping other volunteers as food is given away during the Winslow Community Cupboard’s visit to Skowhegan. Fruit and vegetables were given to 120 people who stopped at the parking lot at Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church at 273 Water St. About a dozen volunteers are helping with the event. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Already this month, the Community Cupboard has visited Clinton, Fairfield, Oakland, Skowhegan and Vassalboro, and three locations in Waterville. By the end of the month, it will have visited most of those towns twice.

Bottigliere said the pantry served 918 households last month, which breaks down to 2,436 individuals who were fed. The busiest locations, he said, were Clinton, Skowhegan and Waterville.


A food pantry usually serves its own community. There is often a residency or income requirement to pick up food. This is a reflection of how few resources many food banks have, Bottigliere said. Most do not get weekly deliveries of food so they must prioritize serving the neediest in their own community before helping others, he said.

But with money provided by Good Shepherd and donors, including Kennebec Valley Federal Credit Union, the Waterville Rotary Club and Brookfield Renewable Partners, the Community Cupboard has been able to do away with residency and income requirements and take its services on the road.

Fresh produce lines a trailer Wednesday as food is given to anyone who asks at Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church at 273 Water St. in Skowhegan. The event is organized by the Winslow Community Cupboard. Organizers say 120 families benefited from the event. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

“I don’t want barriers,” Bottigliere said Wednesday. “If someone needs food, they come get it.”

He said in each community the Community Cupboard visits, he is mindful of where to set up. He often relies on a local team of volunteers to find a spot in a low-income area to which people can walk.

In Skowhegan, the pantry has partnered with Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church at 273 Water St.

The Rev. James Nadeau said he was happy to lend the parking lot in front of his church. Nadeau runs a soup kitchen Thursdays in the church basement, so he said any leftover produce is happily used up there or given to parishioners in need.


To advertise where the trailers will be each week, volunteers at the Community Cupboard rely on word of mouth, flyers and social media.

Two women who came Wednesday to the pantry in Skowhegan for the first time said they appreciated the atmosphere.

“It’s amazing. It’s so comfortable,” Donna Gozdek said. “And they offer it without questions. However much you want to take.”

A sign directs people Wednesday to the parking lot at Notre Dame de Lourdes Catholic Church at 273 Water St. in Skowhegan as food is given away by the Winslow Community Cupboard. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

On Wednesday, visitors to the food pantry moved along the buffet of fresh produce and could fill bags with sweet potatoes, watermelon, summer squash, carrots, mangoes, cucumbers, radishes, onions, apples and lemons. Also available: knitted hats, diapers and dog food.

Gozdek and friend Jessica Schiaffino said they appreciated that healthy options were available.

“A lot of food pantries, they’re great, but they give out a lot of bread and pastries,” Schiaffino said. “It’s good to have a variety.”

A full schedule of the communities the Winslow Community Cupboard is scheduled to visit in January and February is available at its Facebook page.

Bottigliere said the pantry has scheduled a yard sale for Feb. 4 at its main location on Lithgow Street in Winslow to raise additional funds.

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