2018-01-12 / Front Page

Richmond food pantry dishing up ‘souper’ bowl

Times Record Staff

RICHMOND AREA FOOD PANTRY opens twice a month to help families in Richmond, Dresden and Bowdoinham. 
CHRIS QUATTUCCI / THE TIMES RECORD RICHMOND AREA FOOD PANTRY opens twice a month to help families in Richmond, Dresden and Bowdoinham. CHRIS QUATTUCCI / THE TIMES RECORD RICHMOND

The Super Bowl takes place on Feb. 4, but the Richmond Area Food Pantry will be getting an early start on the Souper Bowl of Caring weekend that typically takes place around the time of the game.

The food pantry will be hosting a Souper Supper at the Dresden-Richmond United Methodist Church from 4:30-7 p.m. on Saturday.

Food pantry director Janette Sweem believes the event works for the pantry in multiple ways. In addition to donations, it serves as a way to get the pantry on the minds of people in the community.

The Richmond Area Food Pantry is in its seventh year serving residents of Richmond, Dresden and Bowdoinham. It opens on the first Wednesday of every month from 4-6 p.m., and the third Saturday from 2- 4 p.m. The pantry serves about 120 families per month, according to Sweem, which is about 240 people total.

She praised the support the pantry has received from the community.

“At Thanksgiving we had families dropping off gift cards left and right,” said Sweem. “And people were even donating turkeys.”

That community support has helped the pantry take care of the needs of its clients. Sweem said she recently decided to give a survey to clients to see if their needs were being met. The survey asked if the three- to five-day supplement of food provided by the pantry was actually lasting that long. She was happy to find in some cases the supplement was lasting for two weeks.

In addition to community donations, volunteers have helped the pantry thrive. Volunteers range in age from high school students to 80 years old, according to Sweem. She has volunteers that hand out food, and some that drive to Augusta to pick up orders from the Good Shepherd Food Bank. Sweem expressed gratitude for whatever her volunteers are willing to do.

“Volunteering doesn’t have to take up hours and hours, it can be something simple,” she said.

Sweem said Saturday’s event takes about 15-20 volunteers from the community, but she has a list of about 40 people willing to help. Each soup is made by someone different who has volunteered their time and talents.

“The event is to let people know we are still here, and we’re going strong thanks to the community,” said Sweem.

All proceeds from the supper will benefit the food pantry. The Souper Bowl will include soups, stews and chili, served with bread for $8. The food is made by members of the community, who are all regular supporters of the pantry.

“We will have a dozen crock pots warming, filled with all different kinds of soups and chili,” said Sweem. “Tasting of all soups is encouraged, pick any that you like and come back to try another.”

The pantry is currently accepting names for the month of January to be entered into a raffle for a small cart. The idea to raffle off a cart was developed because of the number of people that walk to the pantry, and Sweem said she hopes to raffle off a cart each month.

The Souper Bowl of Caring weekend started in 1990. It’s a nationwide effort to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and those in need.

Saturday’s event will take place, weather permitting, and anyone interested in attending should check the Richmond Area Food Pantry’s Facebook page or website at richmondareafoodpantry.org.


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