Volunteers bring food to Ruth Ann Dragon of Mexico on Wednesday at the GRAMPA food pantry behind the Mexico Town Hall in Mexico. It was the first drive-up distribution by the Greater Rumford Area Ministers and Priests Association. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — Volunteers handed out 10-pound boxes of food and other items to people at a drive-up distribution service Wednesday behind the Mexico Town Hall.

“People were lined up before we got here,” said Sue Byam, director of the Greater Rumford Area Ministers and Priests Association food pantry.

The pantry was set up at the Mexico Congregational Church but had to close because of the coronavirus pandemic. The association decided to do a drive-up distribution for residents of Mexico, Rumford, Roxbury and Byron.

Volunteers packed 125 boxes filled with canned goods, juice, pasta and sauce, and nuts, along with a smaller box supplied by Hannaford for single people. The pantry also handed frozen meat and items such as flour.

Volunteers followed state guidelines on distancing and masks as they loaded vehicles.

Ruth Ann Dragon of Mexico said the pantry is definitely important to her.

“This was very nice,” she said, adding she frequented the church pantry often before it closed.

Byam noted activity has been surprisingly slow since the start of the pandemic.

“I expected it to be a lot more,” she said. “Because the schools are giving out so much, it’s made a big difference.”

GRAMPA also distributes Hannaford donations to the public every Friday and Saturday from 9:30 to 11 a.m. in Mexico Congregational Church parking lot. In case of wet weather, it will be set up on the ramp by the elevator.

Byam said she believes GRAMPA will hold a second drive-up food distribution in June.

As she spoke, Aaron Allumbaugh, exalted ruler of Farmington Elks Lodge No. 2430, handed her a check for $675. Joined by members Debi Briggs and Sandee Welch, he said GRAMPA is one of three food pantries receiving a donation from an Elks National Foundation grant.

While the check was being presented, local businessman Clyde Wardwell, Jr. drove up and handed a volunteer a $20 bill.

To donate, send a check made out to GRAMPA, c/o Sue Byam, 36 Swett Ave., Mexico, ME 04257.

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