Michelle Williams of Mexico, standing, chats with people Dec. 1 at a fundraising supper for the weekly soup kitchen she is opening Thursday at the Calvin Lyons Meeting Room downstairs at Mexico Town Hall. The public meals and accompanying programs are open to anyone in the River Valley area and are an effort to address hunger and health issues. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

MEXICO — Community volunteer Michelle Williams is leading a team to provide a public soup kitchen starting Thursday in the Calvin Lyons Meeting Room downstairs at the Mexico Town Hall. The meals are open to anyone in the River Valley area.

“We, as a community, are trying to help better the situation and ongoing community issues,” Williams said, including hunger and substance use.

The town has donated the use of the kitchen for Williams and other volunteers to serve a hot meal from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays, except holidays and school closings. The meal is free but there will be a donation bucket to help pay expenses.

“Right now, we’re in the red because it takes a lot to get this started,” Williams said. To help with costs, she would like to have a fundraising meal every other month, she said.

Williams, who resides in Mexico, noted that unfortunately, in the past, the soup kitchen at the Town Hall had to be closed due to behaviors of some. Therefore, she has set the following rules that must be followed:

• Noise must be kept to a minimum because there is town business being conducted upstairs.


• Smoking by the building is prohibited.

• Disrespecting staff and volunteers will not be tolerated.

• Any suspicious activity or ideas of drug use on the property will result in a ban from the meals indefinitely.

• Only service animals will be allowed inside.

“I, as a private citizen, do reserve the right to refuse service to anyone that has to be spoken to about these rules and the abuse of them,” Williams said. “If you have to be asked more than once about something, you will be asked to leave for the day. If you return on another day and the same issues occur, you will be banned from the program.”

Williams said this may sound harsh to some, “but we are getting you out of cold temporarily, feeding you, sending you out with brown bag lunch if needed and hopefully having volunteers there to help you with community programs available to you. Let’s make this work for all of us because if it becomes a problem like before, I will not blink twice and shut it down.”


There schedule for outreach programs during meals, so far, is:

• Dec. 28 — Larry Labonte Recovery Center will do Narcan training.

• Jan. 4 — Med-Care Ambulance will do frostbite checks and other health monitoring.

• Jan. 11 — Glenn Gordon, an OPTIONS liaison substance use professional.

• Jan. 17 — Courtnie Lovely-Young of Rumford Group Homes.

The menus are as follows:


• Dec. 28 — Chili, cornbread, cookies, fresh fruit.

• Jan. 4 — Corn chowder, biscuits, granola bars, fresh fruit.

• Jan. 11 — Beef barley soup, bread and butter, cookies, fresh fruit.

• Jan. 18 — Chicken and rice soup, crackers, cake, fresh fruit.

• Jan. 25 — Beef stew, biscuits, cookies, fresh fruit.

• Feb. 1 — Beans and hot dogs with buns, cookies, fresh fruit.


Williams also will offer a food pantry on an emergency basis by appointment. Call (207) 418-1265 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and leave a message and a contact number.

Items needed for the pantry include hams, turkeys, canned vegetables, pasta, instant potatoes, pasta sauce, stuffing, gravy mixes, cranberry sauce, apple sauce, pancake mix and syrup and oatmeal.

There are several ways people can donate to the soup kitchen and the food pantry.

Food donations can be dropped of at the Town Hall, 134 Main St., or at 20 Maple St. in Mexico.

Cash donations can be given through Pay Pal and Venmo @mainiacmom67. Call (207) 418-1265 to process debit or credit card via Square; or donate through Town Manager Raquel Welch-Day at the Mexico Town Office.

Volunteers for the soup kitchen or events may call Williams at (207) 418-1265 to be placed on a list.

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