BETHEL — For nearly 20 years, people in need of food or clothing have been able to get it at the District Exchange in the basement of the former Ethel Bisbee School.

But starting sometime this summer, the venue will change because the SAD 44 central offices will move to a site at the Norway Savings Bank.

Where the District Exchange will move to is the question.

Cathy Newell, an original member of the group that got the District Exchange going in 1992, said about two dozen residents met to brainstorm some potential options late last week, and came up with about a half-dozen possible sites.

“We’ve been lucky to have this space for a long time,” she said Monday morning. “Superintendent (David) Murphy is working with us for solutions.”

SAD 44 decided a few weeks ago to move from the century-old building into a more efficient, less costly space.

Newell said the cost to operate the food pantry, which serves about 50 families a month on an appointment-only basis, have been minimal. The Exchange pays for a telephone connection and splits the cost for a Dumpster with SAD 44.

“Our first priority is that there’s not a lapse in the food pantry,” she said.

People donate money to help run the Exchange, as well as clothing that is often sold to buy food for the pantry from the U.S.D.A. and the Good Shepherd Food-Bank.

Finding a space is difficult in Bethel, she said.

“There’s not a lot of space available here,” she said..

The clothing donated also helps out those who may have experienced a fire, or children who may be in need as identified by teachers, social workers, or nurses.

Others, such as high school students, use the clothing exchange for Halloween costumes or for the annual prom.

Donations are accepted for clothing, but they aren’t mandatory, she said. She said hundreds of people use the clothing exchange each year.

The District Exchange began in 1992 when then-town manager, Madeleine Henley, called together a group of clergy, social service organizations, and municipal representatives to learn what could be done to help people in need. Although the town does not appropriate funds for the Exchange, it does provide some in-kind services, such as accounting, Newell said.

The District Exchange operates under the nonprofit certification of the Northern Oxford Health and Service Council.

The District Exchange board works with Community Concepts. The food pantry is operated by David Bean. It is open on Mondays, 1 to 4 p.m., Thursdays, 4 to 6 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to noon.

The group will meet again at 6:30 p.m., March 3 at the Telstar Middle/High School library when some of the potential ideas will be weeded out and the next steps will be decided.

Newell said she hopes are that a new location will be nailed down by June.

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