Does our region need to address food insecurity? Rotary says yes

Wed, 10/21/2020 - 8:45am

    Rotary is getting creative to address community needs during COVID-19 and beyond. First focus: food insecurity.

    Rotary applauds the service of Russ and Cathy Pinkham for managing our latest effort to garner support in addressing community needs in the time of COVID-19. Look for the Lighthouse Wishing Well outside the entrance of Pinkham’s Gourmet Market, where visitors and shoppers can make contributions to support the various endeavors Rotary supports, with the current focus on food insecurity in the region.

    This Wishing Well kick-off seeks funds from shoppers to address needs in our community as they arise and are featured at the Well.

    The Lighthouse Wishing Well at Pinkham’s was built by Rotarians Tom Churchill, Jeff Long and Vic Taylor. The project is the brainchild of Rotary’s Vision Committee led by Vic Taylor.

    The committee seeks input to find creative ways to serve our region during the pandemic and beyond. Rotarian Rebecca Weinstein volunteered to head up the wishing well effort.

    “Now is the time to get innovative and creative with our efforts in a variety of ways, while also learning from what has worked in other communities,” said Weinstein. “The Wishing Well concept to support projects and efforts has shown to be effective in other communities, and with other Rotary Clubs around the world. The Rotary Community Lighthouse is a fun way to represent the sea-faring identity of our beautiful coastal region. While sharing with our visitors and community members about ongoing projects in the community so many cherish, as home, as home away from home, or as a magical vacation experience, it offers a way to contribute to the well-being of our region, and that of the children and families who live here.”

    Fleet Davies, Rotarian and president of the Boothbay Region Food Pantry, said “Most families continued to come to the Food Bank but some decided to err on the side of caution and remained at home. Although we experienced, on average, a 12% decrease in visits, the amount of volunteer hours required increased significantly. Our food costs also increased, having to purchase food through Sysco and US Foods. The number of home deliveries to our families more than doubled.

    “We have already seen an increase in family visits this month (October) by 15%, with levels expected to return to more normal, elevated levels during these winter months. We have already doubled our pantry open hours required on Fridays. We also expect that without further stimulus funding and with more small businesses closing and people out of work, we may have to expand our pantry open hours again as well as increase our spending on food. We anticipate that the demands on the FP will increase this winter as Covid drags on and many benefits are ending.”

    One of Rotary’s most successful actions has been to collaborate in service with ongoing community programs. Rotarian John Welsh, chairman of Rotary’s Rotary Food Insecurity grant, said “The Rotary Club is pleased to have received a Food Insecurity grant and is working with the Food Pantry to offer this winter a new selection of diabetic and gluten free foods for those struggling with health issues.”

    If you have interest in joining us in our efforts, contact Linda Clapp, and learn how you can serve as a Friend of Rotary or as a member. You can reach her through Alice Mutch, 410-353-3861.