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When the pandemic hit Maine, many of our partners sprang into action, altering their services to incorporate health and safety protocols. For some, the natural evolution was to expand their work to share food in different ways and with even more community members. This was the case for Deering Center Community Church, who hosts a weekly Wayside Community Meal in their space for community members every Thursday evening.  

It all started just by reaching out to some of the people who usually attended the Community Meal, which was temporarily cancelled due to the pandemic, some people from the congregation and some from the immediate Deering Center neighborhood. It turned out that many people did need some extra support.  

With Pastor Don Drake and his wife Peggy at the helm, a group of volunteers from the church and from Grace House, a nearby sober living and recovery residence for women, started sharing groceries and meals. Their numbers quickly doubled until they were sharing 60 emergency food boxes and 100 Cooking for Community prepared meals each week, all of the food coming from Wayside and being supplemented with purchased food from the church or donations from neighbors. “We’ve met a lot of new community members who are in need of food and also people who care about them. That’s why we want to continue reaching new people and sharing even more food,” says Peggy Drake. Many of the neighbors they have been reaching are affected by the pandemic in different ways, like being lonely and scared or have lost their jobs. “Even if we can’t change their situation, maybe we can change how they feel.”  

Starting today (7/16), take-away meals will be available every Thursday at the church (4 Brentwood Street) from 5-6:30PM as they start to transition back to their weekly community meals.