At the Bar Harbor Food Pantry building community is one of our core values. This means that our members are not the only ones who reap benefits from the pantry. We are a community where everyone keeps coming back: our volunteers return each week, staff turnover is virtually nonexistent, and board members are sad to see their terms end. Explore the tabs below to understand what each part of our community looks like while keeping in mind that these are by no means isolated groups.


We serve…


726 Members in 381 Households


…in the 7 months between January 2019 through July 2019



Mary


I grew up in Trenton, Maine, less than a quarter mile from where I currently live with my two children. Growing up, I struggled in school due to diagnosed anxiety and depression and the impact of multiple surgeries. Then, one month before my 19th birthday, I gave birth to my daughter. I had to learn to grow up quickly. I received TANF for the first year of my daughter’s life, after that working two, three, or four jobs at any given point. I was told that the odds were against me to graduate as a young mother, but I used this as fuel. Before my daughter reached six months old I had finished my GED. When she turned one and a half I enrolled part-time in college, balancing multiple jobs and motherhood with coursework. A year later I was pregnant with my son, finishing my semester two weeks early to give birth. 

“Before my daughter reached six months old I had finished my GED”

When my children were one and a half and four I was working three jobs, due to seasonal overlap, and attending classes. I would bring my coursework with me to my job at Robbin’s Motel, laying my math homework out over the washers and dryers while doing laundry and deskwork. When my son turned two I left his father, becoming a single mother of two kids. I put off school to refocus on my small children.

 

Again, I was working two or three jobs with little support from my family or my children’s father.

“During the summer I pay 80 dollars per week on childcare, but the DHHS calculates my childcare at just 19 dollars a week”

My children are now six and ten years old. When they started school last fall I began looking into what I needed to do to get back to school. I am currently working on a major in Mental Health and a Minor in Human Resource Management. I aspire to help reform the DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) systems that are in place. It is frustrating to see the way my benefits are calculated. For example, during the summer I pay 80 dollars per week on childcare, but the DHHS calculates my childcare at just 19 dollars a week. Another example? I live a minimum of ten miles from work, however my car related expenses, about 510 dollars per month, are not covered despite a lack of alternative transportation. I want to see a logical system, one that helps those who are helping themselves. I want to get off of benefits and give back.

I go to the Bar Harbor Food Pantry to supplement my income and food stamps. It has kept me afloat when I am not sure I will make it to my next paycheck. 

 


Kelly


Bar Harbor’s beauty is truly remarkable. From the awe-inspiring Acadia National Park to the bustling shops of Main Street, it provides millions of summer tourists every year with an escape from their own realities. But what about the residents? The job market is limited, dominated by seasonal work and so is the housing market. Small apartments, if you can find one that offers year-round residency, cost much more than most can afford. The people who call Bar Harbor home are strong-willed and independent. Every year they watch the island turn from a summer oasis to a ghost town. As the tourists go home and the hotels and shops close, the jobs go along with them.

“I had a very solid reputation. Then the wall came crashing down.”

When Kelly first moved to Bar Harbor, she was, in her words, living the life. A house, a camp, and a marriage that provided a level of financial security not many have. After having two children, things started to become increasingly stressful at home. “I had a really good footprint here, a very solid understanding of who I was, what I brought to the table, I had a very solid reputation. Then the wall came crashing down.” Kelly is able to say this with an amazing amount of strength, and respect of the hard times she has fought through. When it became time for Kelly to leave her marriage, the stress continued to pile on. 

Before finding the house she is in now, Kelly was property sitting, working 

in exchange for a place to call home for her and her boys, who were 3 and 5 at the time. With no kitchen, meals were either cooked in the toaster oven she had, or purchased from restaurants, taking up what money she did have.

“I had the life and I want somebody else to realize that if they have that life, they can turn to support like this.”

Kelly has now been coming to the Bar Harbor Food Pantry for 2 years and wishes she had asked for the helping hand sooner. “I needed the comfort and confidence to know I could come here, but it takes asking. If I had asked for help sooner, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” Kelly speaks with confidence and wants to share her story with others to help them understand that she is not the only one who has faced this kind of adversity. “I had the life and I want somebody else to realize that if they have that life, they can turn to support like this. You can message the pantry and talk to them. I want them to do that sooner than later, I think it is vital.”

Kelly’s story is her own and much more complex than captured here, but representative of many in Bar Harbor, and all across Maine. Food insecurity here is tricky, most Mainers are hesitant to ask for a hand up when they’ve been knocked down. One of Kelly’s biggest takeaways has been that “Asking for help, just for one thing, can help to relieve a lot of stress.”

 

We asked our volunteers why they choose to spend their time at the pantry. This is what they had to say...

Elise

“I’ve gotten to know a lot of people in my community”

– Elise
John

“It’s an opportunity to socialize with people who are very friendly.”

– John
Michael, Jodi & Jessie

“Volunteering helps me develop the social skills to live with my anxiety and stress disorder.”

– Mandy
Mandy

“I like that I’m able to just walk in and help”

– Karen
Karen

“I have noticed the great need.”

– Anna
Anna
Martha

“It feels good to be helpful in my community.”

– Martha
David
Tim
Mary
Muriel
Maaike
Sandi
Barbara B.
Barb S.
Marilyn
Carolyn

Our Staff

Our Board of Directors

Church Representatives: Julie Fulton-Kelly –  Holy Redeemer Nancy Patterson – The Message Church  Jim Vallette – St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church   Doreen Willett – Bar Harbor Congregational Church 

Farms and Vendors

Bahner Farms
Fisher Farms
Beech Hill Farm
The Bread Box
Local Growth
COA Community Garden

Organizations and Businesses

Mountain Sea Properties uses its resources creatively to support the pantry. Jen, owner of Mountain Sea Properties, (left) donates produce grown at her vacation rentals and gives everytime a renter leaves a review.