The mission of the Bar Harbor Food Pantry is to provide a welcoming environment for the distribution of food and other household products free of charge to Hancock County residents in need of assistance. It is our ultimate goal to end food insecurity in our community.
The Bar Harbor Food Pantry has been serving under its name since 1996. Before that it had been run on an emergency basis in the basement of the First Baptist Church.
Today, with the support of local churches, community organizations and business, and individuals, we are able to help feed about 230 families, 400 individuals, across Hancock County each month.
The Bar Harbor Food Pantry was first established as an emergency agency for food in a Sunday School room in the basement of the First Baptist Church. It was largely a one-woman organization run by Mrs. Etta Paine, mother of David Paine of Jordan’s. Mrs. Paine continued this community service for several years until 1994, when she had to withdraw because of health reasons.
On March 1, 1994, Reverend Scott Records called a meeting of representatives from Bar Harbor’s six churches to establish an expanded program of food provision for the community. The Bar Harbor Food Pantry opened May 19, 1994, using the same facilities at the First Baptist with the six churches sharing volunteer duties. Food was supplied through church and community donations. Groceries were bagged and distributed to those who needed them. The Pantry continued in this capacity until 1998.
An interested and enthusiastic volunteer, Marianne Barnicle, came to the forefront in 1996 and became a key person in the organization. Beginning as a board member, then becoming a co-director until becoming the pantry’s executive director, Marianne saw the BHFP through many changes. She established many of the relationships and support networks that the pantry continues to rely upon. She also brought a spirit and enthusiasm to the organization that still resonates in its current supporters and clients.
Due to the greater demand for food and lack of adequate space for storage, the pantry moved to the basement of the YWCA in January 1999. This space had recently been vacated by Headstart, which moved to Ellsworth. The pantry remained a non-profit organization under the sponsorship of the First Baptist. Volunteers from Church of Our Father and the Congregational Church built shelving and storage space. Now food was being purchased from the Good Shepherd Food Bank of Lewiston at $0.14 per pound. The pantry also qualified for government support of 4 free shipments of food each year from the US Department of Agriculture. The six area churches continued their donations of food, money, and time, and were joined with generous outpouring from the community.
After many years of commitment to the Food Pantry, Marianne handed the baton to Sharon Smyth who then served as director for the following 2 years. In the spring of 2005, Sharon went to work full time at the MDI Hospital, at which time Paul Volnick stood in for a brief stint until an opportunity to move to Nova Scotia presented itself. Paul and his wife left the island that fall, and Kate Maginn joined the organization as their new director. Members of the BHFP are so grateful to each of these kind folks for their hard work and commitment to the members of this community.