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Bath Housing Serves 6,830 Freshly Made Meals Since the Covid-19 Pandemic Began

April 15, 2021

Bath Housing Serves 6830 Freshly made Meals During the Covid-19 Pandemic

April 20 Marks One Year Anniversary of “Cooking for Community” in Bath

BATH—Over 6830 nourishing meals, including shepherd’s pie and meat loaf, have been served to the families and older adults living at Bath Housing apartments in the last 12 months of the Covid pandemic, in partnership with Portland-based Cooking for Community. In the last year, the organization has provided over 100,000 hot meals around southern Maine. They raise funds to pay restaurants and their staff to provide freshly made meals to service agencies like Bath Housing.

As the Covid-19 lockdowns commenced in Maine last spring, and as Cooking for Community was getting organized, Bath Housing Executive Director Debora Keller was concerned about a variety of issues facing Bath Housing residents, largely comprised of families, older adults and people with disabilities. One issue was food.

“One morning I had this idea to deliver hot soup to everyone,” she said. “It was March, it was cold, and everything had abruptly shut down, leaving residents scared and isolated.” Luckily, Keller quickly found Cooking for Community, and a partnership was struck. Monique Barrett, of Mama Mo’s Handcrafted Soups and Comfort Foods in Yarmouth, began providing nourishing meals at Bath Housing, the first one on April 20, 2020. 

 “I started out making 140 quarts of soup for Bath Housing,” Barrett said. “Soup turned to things like shepherd’s pie and other comfort foods... 140 meals a week! I've had the pleasure of delivering meals up to Bath a few times and getting to meet some of the folks there who are so appreciative. I love that the food I make brings comfort to people.”

 “I love your meals,” Bath Housing resident Denise Bussiere told Barrett on a delivery day last year. “They’re nutritious, and delicious! Each one is better than the last, and I really look forward to them.”

Locally sourced produce for Cooking for Community is provided by farms like Wolf’s Neck of Freeport and Stonecipher of Bowdoinham, and by Merrymeeting Gleaners, a volunteer gleaning group that shares local surplus harvests all around the greater Bath/Brunswick area.

With the pandemic winding down, and restaurants striving to return to normal business, the status of Cooking for Community is uncertain. They are committed to serving their partners into June, with several possibilities for the future being considered.

“Shots in arms, relief funding, and relaxed restrictions mean the pandemic’s impacts are in flux,” said Cooking for Community co-founder Ellie Linen Low.  “But, for now, the crisis continues. We are making a strong push to continue to support our partnering restaurants and feed the most vulnerable until the need for our work diminishes.”

“When checking in with residents we have heard that a prepared meal being delivered is about so much more than the food itself,” Keller said. “These meals have provided a sense of community, helped folks to feel less isolated, and the nostalgia of these comfort foods providing a much needed lift to spirits.”

Though weekly meals at Bath Housing may not continue, the possibility of quarterly, monthly, and holiday meals is being explored, as are on-site food pantries at each location.

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