Food Pantry Receives 400 Jars of Peanut Butter and Jelly

Photo: The Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry and the 800 families it serves were gifted with a donation of over 400 jars of peanut butter and jelly by Bangor Savings Bank on Tuesday, June 20th. From left to right: Diane Hunnewell, David Sivret, Lisa Bird, and Leah Schneckloth. (Photo by Lura Jackson).

By Lura Jackson

 

More than 400 jars of peanut butter and jelly have been donated to the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry as part of Bangor Savings Bank’s annual Peanut Butter and Jelly Drive. The jars arrived at the pantry on Tuesday, June 20th. A few weeks earlier, 43 jars of peanut butter and jelly collected by the Calais branch were delivered, bringing the total amount up to about 450.

“This is going to be great for the summer,” said David Sivret, co-director of the pantry. “What we got today will be great for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids. Looking at the numbers, it’s a lot of families that will get some extra stuff this year.”

Over 800 families regularly utilize the Calais food pantry, which is the largest in Washington County. The pantry was expanded in recent years to allow for extra seating room; however, the new space is taken over completely by necessary stock. Sivret says that’s both a good and bad thing – good that there is stock to share, but bad that so many families are clearly in need. “I signed up two new families yesterday,” said Sivret, who said that the pantry is averaging two new families a week. 

The arrival of the peanut butter and jelly coincided perfectly with a donation of sliced bread, which Sivret says is always the first to go. Peanut butter is rarely received at the pantry outside of occasional deliveries by Good Shepherd and overstock donations or purchases from local stores. “This will last us a month and a half or so.”

Representatives from the corporate office of Bangor Savings Bank were surprised at how little time the donations would last. “We chose this area for a good reason,” said Vice President of Community Outreach Lisa Bird. “Washington County was the place to come this year.”

The Bangor Savings Bank’s annual drive began in 2012 and has since collected 45,000 jars for nonprofits around the state. This is the first year that the bank has made a delivery to Washington County. Three other pantries received deliveries: the Moose Island Food Pantry in Eastport, the Centre Street Congregational Church in Machias, and the Sawyer Memorial Congregational Church in Jonesport. Part of the bank’s campaign involves “Selfless Selfies”, during which people that bring a jar into a branch can take a selfie of themselves. If they do so, the bank donates two additional jars to the cause.

“We feel like we’re helping to feed our neighbors in need,” said Bird. “We wanted to help the county. It’s our way of giving back.”

While the peanut butter and jelly will go a long way for local families, Sivret said there are some things that the pantry is always in need of. “We’re always looking for eggs,” he said. Local fishermen are reminded that pantry clients always appreciate sharing in the catch. “One day somebody came in with a pail of white perch. We let people know they’d have to clean them themselves.” The fish went so quickly that “I had some people jumping down my throat when I ran out,” said Sivret. 

Donations of fresh vegetables are also always in need. “Anything extra that gardeners have, we’ll take it,” said Sivret. Within a few weeks, donations of fresh will be arriving from Friends of Aroostook. 

Lastly, Sivret said that he is looking for volunteers that would be willing to help move stock on Mondays from 3-5 pm. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Sivret at 214-4883.