The Waldoboro Planning Board, on Wednesday, July 8, approved the Waldoboro Food Pantry’s relocation to a barn on Friendship Street.
The food pantry relocated from 251 Jefferson St. to a barn at the Medomak House, 124 Friendship St., June 30.
The barn was formerly home to Epic Yarn and is across from the Friendship Street School.
Jeff Brown, director of the Waldoboro Food Pantry, told the planning board that three months of weekly drive-thru events at the municipal building illustrated the need to relocate.
“During that time we learned a lot of lessons, number one being that the previous food pantry, the one we were in, was totally inadequate for doing the level of service the town requires,” Brown said.
“It was very small, a third of the size of this room, and with the food in there, there could really be only one, maybe two, people working, to maintain any kind of physical distance,” Brown said. The meeting was in the meeting room at the town office.
For the drive-thru events at the municipal buildings, volunteers packed all the bags ahead of time, stored them in the fire station, and had a pit crew hand them to people each Tuesday.
“It was very efficient and we will try to do the same thing,” Brown said.
Brown said the new location at the Medomak House is on the ground level and can be accessed by a garage door. The new location offers more freezer and refrigerator space than the old one.
“There’s a cement floor and it is a lot easier to clean it and people can work in there without being in each other’s faces,” Brown said.
The property has a loop driveway, another benefit for drive-thru events.
“There is a drive-thru driveway utilizing the town right of way that goes up on the southern end of the property. We can check them in, get the food to them, and they go out the other driveway by the house. We have signage out by the road directing people, which is the entrance and which is the exit, and we have cones up to direct the traffic flow,” Brown said.
While the events at the municipal building occurred weekly, the pantry is going back to every other week.
“We are going to be on a first and third Tuesday basis, unless something drastic happens,” Brown said.
Board member John Kosnow asked where deliveries to the pantry come from.
According to Brown, in addition to products from Good Shepherd Food Bank, the food pantry purchases potatoes from northern Maine, eggs from Bowden Egg Farm in Waldoboro, and groceries from Hannaford Supermarket in Waldoboro and Main Street Grocery in Damariscotta.
Kosnow asked if the new location will allow the pantry to streamline its operations.
Brown said it will. “The customers don’t come in the food pantry. They stay right in their cars and we intercept them right in the parking area, take the food down, and put it aboard,” Brown said.
Scott Simpson, chair of the planning board, asked if the pantry is organizing boxes in the barn and if there is enough room in the new space to accommodate the work.
Brown said the room, which measures 30 feet by 30 feet, provides adequate space. The pantry has freezers on one side “and a string of tables down the middle,” he said.
Board member Sara Hotchkiss asked about the pantry’s nonprofit status.
Brown said the pantry is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Hotchkiss asked about use of the residence at Medomak House.
Brown said the pantry is mostly in the barn.
“There’s a carport that is attached to the residence and we are using that to store some of our cones and that stuff. We put the cardboard out there that we generate while we are breaking down our cartons,” Brown said.
Property owners Ron and Peggy Davis were in attendance.
Ron Davis said they recently bought the property, inspired by outreach work at Broad Bay Church.
“Through that mission outreach, we realized there was a lot of needs in Waldoboro that aren’t being met, need to be met, or would like to be met. We thought we hopefully could be a part of helping with those needs,” Ron Davis said.
Ron Davis said the new location provides the pantry with nearly 1,000 square feet as opposed to the 300 square feet it had on Jefferson Street.
“It is quite an improvement and we are very happy we could offer this space to them. It really seems to be working quite well,” Ron Davis said.
The driveway was barely passable when the couple bought the property, according to Ron Davis, who said there was only room for two parking spaces.
“We knew if we were going to do anything relative to community service, using the barn, we would have to improve that. That was our first priority, which we did,” he said. He said there is now room for about 18 parking spaces.