Steven Quackenbush presents a check for $10,000 to Kristen Wroble, second from right, Wednesday outside W.G. Mallett School in Farmington. The donation was for the Regional School Unit 9 Food Pantry and facilitated by the Tyngtown Club of Wilton. From left are pantry volunteers Robin Bragg, Katie Hallman and Meaghan Swan, Quackenbush, and pantry volunteers Debra Miller, Wroble and Chris Cox. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — The Regional School Unit 9 Food Pantry received a $10,000 donation Wednesday from Steven Quackenbush, University of Maine Farmington associate provost and dean of arts and science.

The pantry provides food to families of district students.

The donation is in memory of Quackenbush’s mother, Anita Louise Spencer, who died last November. The donation was facilitated by the Tyngtown Club of Wilton, of which Spencer was a member.

“I am beyond grateful for Dr. Quackenbush’s very generous donation,” Kristen Wroble, pantry coordinator said. “We are so fortunate that he chose to partner with the Tyngtown Club, and that they were kind enough to think of us.”

The donation was specifically for the pantry’s backpack program, which provides students with a bag of food to take home over the weekend.

Wroble shared with the Franklin Journal in May that while they had enough funds to finish out the program for the school year, there was serious doubt the backpack program would continue into the next year.


“Now we can not only continue to offer this program, but also continue to expand our reach, as we know there are many additional students who would benefit from extra weekend food,” she said. “We are also excited to announce that we are going to rename the RSU 9 Food Pantry backpack program to ‘Anita’s Hope’ in honor of Dr. Quackenbush’s mother.  We feel certain she would be proud.”

Spencer, who moved to Wilton from California in 2017, made helping others her life work. Using her background as a clinical psychologist, she formed a grief group when she arrived and quickly made herself an active member of the community.

Spencer was also a member of the Tyngtown Club in Wilton, a fraternal organization for women that has been active in the community for over 120 years. She was campaigning for the position of club president before her passing.

According to Tyngtown member Robin Bragg, Spencer was passionate about the issue of food insecurity, especially with children, and conversations on how the organization could tackle the problem had just barely begun before Spencer’s death.

However, the other members wanted to continue with the cause to honor her memory, and they looked at the backpack program at the RSU 9 Food Pantry as a start.

“We formed the committee and started looking into different programs,” Bragg said. “It was about a year of work to look at all the different programs, figure out what we could do, what we couldn’t do, and realize that the best fit for us was the backpack program.”


Bragg connected with Quackenbush, who knew better than anyone how ardent his mother was on social issues.

“She was always concerned about social issues and making the world a better place,” Quackenbush said.

He referenced her obituary, stating that her last book, “Crisis of Spirit: Our Desperate Search for Integrity,” provided an opportunity to comment on contemporary social issues in relation to her own experiences of loss and grief.

“So she always felt that our obligation is to do something good for our community,” he added. “With her, when bad things happen to you, you do something to make the bad good.”

Comments are no longer available on this story