Maine Food Pantry Lends Helping Hand to Area Restaurants

With restaurants struggling financially due to the coronavirus, Footprints in Kittery has decided to donate items like dinner rolls, pumpkin pies, cornbread

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Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a Maine food pantry is trying something new this year to help people beyond its clients.

With so many restaurants having a tougher time in 2020, Footprints in Kittery, decided it would try to help a number of restaurants who donate to the organization.

The result was roughly $2,000 in purchases of items like dinner rolls, pumpkin pies, cornbread and cupcakes from places like Popover's On the Square and Black Trumpet in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Lil's Café and the Blue Mermaid restaurant in Kittery.

"We had the funds available this year and it felt like a really good fit," said Megan Shapiro-Ross, the executive director of Footprints.

The gesture has been greatly appreciated by the restaurants who provided the sides and desserts.

"To have that extra sale on a Monday really made a big difference in our day that day," said Deb McCluskey, the general manager at Lil's Café.

While Lil's normally prepares pies and rolls for Thanksgiving, McCluskey told NECN and NBC10 Boston that the business had seen a slight decline in foot traffic recently, following a similar one that happened over the summer.

"We definitely did see a little bit of a drop off over the summer and now that the weather is getting colder, it's starting to drop off again," she said, calling the Footprints sale a great "boost" from a group that Lil's has donated leftover pastries to regularly.

In fact, many of the restaurants that Footprints partnered with this year are longtime donors of food.

"They actually started with us in the 1990s," said Roland Fernald, the president of Footprints' board of directors.

While the Thanksgiving baskets prepared by the food pantry last week have already gone out, there may well be another round of giving back to area restaurants in the near future.

Footprints has plans to purchase from them again for its December holiday meal preparation.

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