New community market set to open in Belfast

Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 6:35 PM EDT
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BELFAST, Maine (WABI) - A new community market is set to open in Belfast.

“The community market is really a food pantry, but we don’t want to call it a food pantry because we are really trying to reduce the stigma,” Merrill said.

It’s an extension of the Belfast Soup Kitchen which serves an average of 140 guests, five days a week, not including other programs.

“We offer daily food pantry normally in the soup kitchen, but it has grown so much and the need has grown so much,” Merill said.

Executive Director Cherie Merrill says the market is another way to combat food insecurity in the area and surrounding towns.

“People can come and shop and access the food pantry once a week, and they can shop based on their household size, and we have a little size chart that utilizes plate servings so that when they shop for those three days, that they can make sure that they get healthy nutritious food,” Merrill

From fresh vegetables to packaged meat, as well as meatless options, Merrill says it is important to be inclusive.

“There are a lot of families who are having to choose between paying their bills, getting to work on time, and getting gas in their car and with the increase in price of everything, if you can’t afford food, there are other things you can’t afford,” Merrill said.

That is why they also offer hygiene products thanks to the numerous partners that support the program.

“We work with a lot of partners, Good Shepherd Food Bank, Hannaford, through the Fresh Rescue Donation Program,” she said.

They also receive monetary donations.

“It is just a blessing to be able to come in and be able to present checks for this organization, and I am thrilled to know that the company I work for stands behind the work that I do in the community.” Michelle Curtis, Treasurer of the soup kitchen, who presented a check to the organization on behalf of First national bank, the organization she works for.

The market could see its first shopper next week on April 24th.

“They are able to come in and do their shopping in a very normal fashion. It is a market. Everybody is welcome,” Curtis said.