Volunteers at First United Methodist Church on Essex Street distribute free take-out meals every Thursday. The free meal is one included on a new list of meals and food pantries in Greater Bangor compiled by Faith Linking in Action, an interfaith group made up of houses of worship. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

A coalition of Bangor-area houses of worship has completed an updated list of organizations offering free meals and hosting food pantries in the region, as faith organizations that serve meals or supply food experience heightened demand.

Faith Linking in Action in January made food insecurity its top priority as the rising costs of food, gasoline, utilities and other needed items have caused many in Greater Bangor who had never sought assistance before to seek help.

The group’s focus on food insecurity this year comes after churches that regularly served meals had to figure out how to distribute food differently during the pandemic. Some had to stop serving meals for a time, but the heightened demand for food hasn’t waned, prompting the group’s focus.

Some churches that offered monthly meals prior to the pandemic, including First Congregational Church in Brewer, no longer offer free meals.

Others, such as the First United Methodist Church, the Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor, Hammond Street Congregational Church and St. John’s Episcopal Church — all located in Bangor — now offer takeout meals. The First United Methodist Church, located on Essex Street, even installed a takeout window with direct kitchen access this year so the church is permanently set up to offer drive-through meals.

Gerald Karnes gets meals as they are handed out of the new takeout window at the First United Methodist Church in Bangor. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Columbia Street Baptist Church in Bangor continues to offer a free in-person meal each Sunday at noon with help from other local congregations.

The list is focused mostly on Bangor and bordering towns, but it includes information on food pantries in Hudson, Levant and LaGrange. It includes days and times of meals or when food is distributed, and indicates whether it is an in-person or a take-out program. Most entries include contact information for additional information.

View the list here.

“We plan on distributing the list to those community organizations that need them the most, such as shelters, churches and hospitals,” said Suzanne Kelly, co-chair of the group. “All of these organizations, including the free food providers, will get periodic updates via email so that an accurate list can be posted, including addresses, contact information, and the schedules and particulars of distribution.”

Organizations may direct people to Faith Linking in Action’s website, at faithlinkinginaction.org, or print off the list for distribution.

“Lists such as these are incredibly helpful as we can share them directly with clients who are in immediate need,” said Rindy Fogler, Bangor’s general assistance director. “It’s very time consuming for those in need to do their own searches for resources and, as we all know, resources can change frequently. The fact that Faith Linking in Action has provided this updated list will benefit a great many people.”

Founded in 2012, Faith Linking in Action is made up of houses of worship and individuals who address societal issues from a faith perspective. Since its founding, the organization has focused its efforts on child care, food access, home insecurity and public transportation.

In 2015, the organization joined with the Brewer organization Food AND Medicine to promote ridership on the Community Connector during the month of November. Members will continue to work on those issues while the organization emphasizes access to food.