A food pantry on the Washington County Community College campus at Calais

CALAIS, ME – Bernadette Farrar is passionate about food: growing it, cooking it,
and especially sharing it. She is even more passionate about fighting

Farrar manages The Caring Cupboard, a food pantry on the Washington County
Community College campus at Calais, in her role as WCCC’s Student

“If I have anything to do with it, no student will go hungry here,” Farrar said
this week. “For some college students, it comes down to feeding themselves or
their family, or staying in school.’’

A recent nationwide
study found that 36 percent of college students experienced food insecurity in
the past 30 days, The Still
Hungry and Homeless in College

report states college students are cutting the size of their portions or
skipping meals due to lack of funds. Feeding America, a national food bank
network, estimates that 16.3 percent of Washington County people are food
insecure and that 79 percent of those people fall below poverty program

Farrar said WCCC is committed to fighting those statistics.

Donna Mutty of Whiting, who hopes to graduate next May, is one of those students
who needs the help Farrar provides.

“I was laid off from work in 2019 when my job was outsourced to another
country,” Mutty said, adding that as a full time student who also works part
time, “Sometimes the budget gets tight and I struggle to make ends meet.” She
said the Caring Cupboard has been an invaluable resource. “I can get staples
like rice and beans, fresh fruit and produce when it’s available, eggs and milk,
and canned goods as well as personal care products, dish detergent and laundry
detergent, and more. The Cupboard helps stretch my food dollars.”

“Feeding people is a passion of mine,” Farrar said. WCCC’s Caring Cupboard last
year passed out five to seven thousand food items, and Farrar expects the need
and WCCC’s response will be even larger and more vital this year.

As part of the US Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Program,
Farrar this week hand delivered food boxes provided by the Good Shepherd Food
Bank and the Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry of Calais. Each was filled
with milk, half and half, eggs, hot dogs, cheese, potatoes, cabbage, apples,
onions and more.

“The need among college students is deep,” Farrar said. “It is very significant,
and WCCC has had a long history of providing food.” Beefing up the Caring
Cupboard became even more important once self-serve options at the school, such
as The Sharing Shelf and the PB&J Corner, had to be closed due to COVID-19

Not getting enough to eat can have a dramatic effect on academics. Hungry
students often make lower grades, have lower test scores, and have a lower
chance of graduating. Those experiencing hunger are less likely to attend and
perform well in class and are more likely to withdraw from courses.

Farrar said at least a quarter of WCCC students use the Cupboard, which is
located in Riverview Hall. Shelves are filled with neat rows of pasta, sides,
canned tuna and chicken, seasonings, fruit and vegetables, rice and the college
staple, Ramen noodles. A refrigerator/freezer is filled with cheese, butter,
eggs, apples and plums. Another section focuses on personal items, including
soap and shampoo.

Farrar said the food pantry on campus has become almost a lifeline for some
students. It has been assisted by grants through Hannaford and Machias Savings
Bank, and has spurred cooking classes, offered by Healthy Acadia, and food
drives by both faculty and students.

“Donations are always welcomed,” Farrar added. For more information regarding
donations, contact Tina Erskine, Director of Human Resources, at