Barbara Ginley, who runs the new MaineHealth food pantry on Congress Street in Portland, is reflected in the glass front of a cooler. The food pantry will be expanding this year with the addition of a refrigerated food truck, thanks to federal federal funding. The truck will deliver healthy groceries to people experiencing food insecurity and to the homeless population. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

A Portland food pantry run by MaineHealth will expand its services this year, adding a refrigerated truck to deliver food to people who can’t travel to the city.

“The idea is to bring free healthy food to people who are food insecure, whether they are unhoused or have a difficult time affording food,” said Barbara Ginley, MaineHealth’s director of community health for Greater Portland. Ginley said some people who need help getting food can’t get to the hospital-run pantry, which is open Thursdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at 950 Congress St., the site of the former Greyhound bus station, because they lack transportation or have a medical condition that makes it difficult to stand in line.

“This gives us an opportunity to extend our reach and meet people where they are,” Ginley said.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, inserted a $119,000 earmark into the federal spending plan approved last weekend to pay for the food truck. The mobile model is used by other charitable organizations, including the Portland-based Preble Street Food Pantry, which also delivers free meals.

The MaineHealth Food Pantry at Maine Medical Center opened in January 2023, and the amount of food distributed is about triple what was anticipated, despite it being open just one day a week, Ginley said. The pantry distributed 688,000 pounds of food to more than 4,400 households in 2023.

“We saw exponential growth,” Ginley said. “There is such a need in our community.”


Ginley said the food pantry only accepts healthy food. It is stocked with protein staples like fish, chicken and pork, fresh fruits, vegetables and bread, and non-perishable canned goods, and the mobile van will deliver similar products. Workers are careful to distribute food that needs to be cooked only to those who live in places where they can cook.

“It’s really recognizing the things that impact health, other than the care received at a doctor’s office or a hospital,” Ginley said.

Barbara Ginley, who runs the new MaineHealth food pantry on Congress Street in Portland, stands amid shelves stocked with food. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

The van will likely begin operating in late summer or fall, Ginley said, and will deliver to public housing complexes, hotels, recovery centers, the homes of cancer patients and other places where people are likely to be food insecure. Exactly where the food truck will go has not yet been determined, but it will serve Greater Portland, Ginley said.

MaineHealth operates two other food pantries, at MaineHealth Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington and MaineHealth Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway.

“As the dedicated professionals at MaineHealth serve some of Portland’s most vulnerable residents, they know that food is medicine, and can improve the quality of life for many,” King said in a prepared statement. “This refrigerated van would serve as a one-stop food shop, working to remove distance barriers to nutrition – and cut down on food insecurity for those who need it most.”

The pantries are open at the following times:

• MaineHealth Food Pantry at Maine Medical Center: Thursdays, 10 3 p.m.

• MaineHealth Food Pantry at Franklin Memorial Hospital: Mondays and Wednesdays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Fridays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

• MaineHealth Food Pantry at Stephens Memorial: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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