Employees at Aroostook County Action Program are preparing a birthday celebration in honor of Presque Isle and Houlton Community Cupboards’ first year helping provide food security to people in Aroostook County.

The public is invited to attend birthday bash celebrations happening concurrently at both the 771 Main Street in Presque Isle and the 91 Military Street in Houlton ACAP office locations on Wednesday, August 30 from noon to 4 p.m. In lieu of traditional birthday gifts, ACAP staff are encouraging people to bring donations of non-perishable food items to help stock the cupboards as we head into the fall season.

On Aug. 31, 2016, ACAP mounted a special wooden cupboard to an exterior wall near the front entrance of its 771 Main Street Presque Isle location. At nearly the same time, ACAP’s Houlton Center also launched their own version of the community cupboard, but opted to locate their project inside the lobby area of their Military Street facility. Since then, that cupboard in Presque Isle has served as a source of food for those who need it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while people can access the Houlton Cupboard by visiting the center during office hours. Some community members visit the cupboard to leave food items, and others take what they need so they will not go hungry. Before long, the project began to inspire other communities to follow suit.

With one in four Aroostook County residents facing food insecurity, the cupboards’ all-hours access seemed to fill a need in the community. In addition, the ability to access the cupboards privately, without having to provide names or financial information, appealed to many people who might otherwise avoid a traditional food pantry. The success of the project is evident by how often the cupboards are used.

The cupboards’ timely launch last year invited local gardeners and farmers to share their bounty. It’s become common throughout the harvesting season to find as many locally grown vegetables, like zucchini, cucumbers and squash available in the cupboard as it is to find more typical non-perishable food items. While ACAP staff primarily support the stocking of the Houlton Center’s cupboard, they do accept donations from the community. Staff also regularly bring in food to help stock the Presque Isle cupboard location, but the community is a primary contributor as well, and ACAP continues to welcome the donations.

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