USM Campus Food Pantry Expands with Gift from Martin’s Point Health Care

November 21, 2020

Story courtesy of USM Office of Public Affairs

A $5,000 donation from Martin’s Point Health Care will help address an urgent need for many students at the University of Southern Maine (USM): food insecurity. The gift has enabled USM to open a new food pantry location on its Gorham campus, where students can pre-order online and pick up their food and supplies in person. 

Food insecurity is an everyday problem for many USM students who experience it on many levels–from not having access to affordable, healthy and nutritious meal options, to not having affordable access to a sufficient amount of food at all. The Campus Food Pantry, now with locations on both the Gorham and Portland campuses, is a resource to help.

According to USM Dean of Students Rodney Mondor, “The economic insecurity caused by COVID-19 has impacted many of our students. A new location on our Gorham campus means critical food pantry services will be accessible to more students closer to where they live. Martin’s Point has been an invaluable friend to the University over the years–and a hero during the pandemic. They are helping our students stay focused on their studies by providing peace of mind to those worried about their next meal.”

“As a health care organization, we see the dire impact food insecurity has on our community, especially during the pandemic. Students—who are often challenged to balance the costs of food, housing, and other essentials at the best of times—are a particularly vulnerable group. One of the most direct impacts we can have on their health, well-being, and, frankly, on their education, is to help provide access to a reliable source of no-cost, nutritious food. Supporting the opening of the Gorham Campus Food Pantry was one very tangible way we could help,” said Dr. David Howes, Martin’s Point President and CEO.

Photographed at the USM Campus Food Pantry in Portland are (L-R, Front Row) Madeleine Lutts ’20, USM Graduate Assistant; Liz Trudel ’21, food pantry volunteer;
(L-R, Back Row) Russ Phillips, Manager, Marketing & Community Engagement, Martin’s Point Health Care; Tracy Rayner, Patient Service Representative at Gorham Health Care Center, Martin’s Point Health Care

Martin’s Point Health Care, a long-time partner with the University, has supported the well-being of USM students in many ways during this pandemic. The $5,000 gift that launched the Gorham Campus Food Pantry was part of a larger $20,000 commitment made earlier in the spring when COVID-19 shut down the USM campus. Over the summer, USM worked on a logistical plan for the Gorham Food Pantry and it opened in September.

“When COVID closed our campuses, our friends at Martin’s Point immediately recognized that many USM students were struggling to meet essential needs like food, rent, and medical treatment. They stepped up with a significant $10,000 contribution to the Student Emergency Fund, a fund they helped establish in 2019, and which has aided an unprecedented number of students in 2020,” said USM Foundation President and CEO Ainsley Wallace.   

Martin’s Point also made a gift of $2,500 to support the Senior College at USM’s Lewiston-Auburn College (LAC). The money helped purchase IT equipment and support that will enable them to offer their classes to more seniors online as a way to help tackle the senior isolation challenge.

Martin’s Point Health Care has planned an employee food drive during November to help keep the USM Campus Food Pantry shelves stocked with food and supplies. Food Pantry offerings include ready-to-make meals, packaged food and kitchen staples, personal care items, fresh produce, and more.  The USM Portland and Gorham Campus Food Pantries operate on a self-assessed need basis. There are no eligibility requirements. 

Students who wish to pick up food and supplies at the new Lower Brooks Food Pantry in Gorham need to pre-order online by Monday for same-week pick-up on Friday from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. The Portland Campus Food Pantry, which will be moving to a new location at 102 Bedford St., is open for both pre-order pick-up and in-person shopping on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

For more information on the USM Campus Food Pantry, including hours of operation and pre-order forms, email campusfoodpantry@maine.edu or visit the USM Food Pantry website, usm.maine.edu/foodpantry, where you can also make a gift to the Campus Food Pantry Fund.