About The Pantry
Union and Western Knox County are under-served areas of coastal Maine. Located 16 miles from Rockland, it is its own community center. Lack of transportation, distance, time, weather and family situations all lend itself to becoming isolated from the coast and the services available there. Many people travel to Rockland once a month. Union’s town center offers a grocery store, gas stations, and general merchandise in small stores, but social services are limited.
A visible food pantry and hub reflects on the values of the community. A healthy caring community shows inclusion, equity, and healthy sustainable food access to all. It shows a capacity to help those in need and help each other: neighbors helping neighbors.
By bringing the food pantry into a visible location, our new home at 27 Common Road in Union, our values become front and center to improve the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors, friends, and family.
Our commitment to our neighbors must be unwavering in guaranteeing that every person has access to good, fresh, healthy food.
Equity and Food Justice
Every person will be treated with dignity and respect. The voice of the recipient and lived experience will focus our awareness to provide equity for all.
Foster collaboration to uplift community voices and offer engagement in all areas of the food system from growing to distribution.
Our vision is to create a pantry space that is welcoming, providing respect and compassion in a dignified way to our neighbors in need. We will provide good healthy food in a client choice shopping area with space to meet people, learn and takeaway information and ideas that will improve their health and quality of life.
A community kitchen will provide opportunities to educate, Cooking for Community programs, share nutritional information and recipes, basic cooking skills and food safety. Partnerships with Knox County Gleaners, collaborations with the SNAP program and local chefs will provide ready to heat and eat meals using fresh vegetables and food available in the pantry.
Outside areas will be dedicated to community use, walking paths, grow to give and garden spaces, utilizing our land and local sources for seeds, gardening and healthy activities. The Union Farmer’s Market is utilizing our field for the summer farmers market.
We will become the Western Knox County food hub distribution point with space for extra refrigeration, a root cellar cool-bot container, and a commercial kitchen. It will be a place to gather for food and agricultural activities and emergency food distribution with equitable access for all!
About Our Neighbors in Need
A veteran living in the woods of Union during the winter told us “I didn’t know there was a food pantry in Union, had I known I would not have gone hungry on many days. I hitchhiked to Rockland to get food at AIO when I could, about once a month”.
A father who became homeless with two teenagers began living in a camping trailer in Union. He was thrilled to learn about our pantry. A volunteer assisted him in making good choices for his kids that he could cook in a crockpot, his only cooking device. The pantry was able to provide toiletries and other goods needed to get him started in his new living situation.
Testimony from a lived experience advocate: “You are not just filling bellies, you are growing lives. You are talking about feeding programs, I am that person.”