Each month, members of Bowdoin’s athletic teams volunteer at the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP), a non-profit organization located in Brunswick, to help provide food for people in the area who cannot do so for themselves. For the last few years, coaches have called upon student-athletes to aid the MCHPP in unloading large shipments of food that are made available to over 1,200 families in eight different towns around midcoast Maine.
“Usually what will happen is that we’ll receive information from Midcoast Hunger about a large food delivery that is coming into Brunswick,” said Ashmead White Director of Athletics Tim Ryan. “Our coaches will then talk to their teams asking if they would like to help out, and that’s where we are able to lend a helping hand.”
“Our connection really began with [former trainer] Jeanne Mayo, who has been heavily involved with Midcoast Hunger Prevention,” Ryan said. “Her relationship with the athletic department started to foster interest in seeing what we could do to help. Our coaches and students have accepted that opportunity as a great way to provide service to our community.”
Mayo, along with former Bowdoin President Roy Greason, helped found the non-profit well over 20 years ago.
While on winter break in 1987, Mayo decided to work for the soup kitchen at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick. Upon arriving, she found out that St. Paul’s would soon undergo renovations that would leave many people they served without meals.
“We ended up deciding that we really needed to build a building to replace the soup kitchen,” Mayo said.
Together with a committee chaired by Greason and his wife Polly, Mayo “raised money, bought the land, and designed a building.”
Mayo also stresses the impact that the athletic department had on the MCHPP.
“We do food-mobiles every month and they are terrific,” Mayo said. “We feed over 200 people who come to these sponsored food-mobiles. The coaches in the athletic department are the people who staff these events, I just put out a request and all of a sudden I have enough students from [the basketball] team or the lacrosse team to work for the day. The athletic coaching staff and the students are incredibly helpful and deserve a huge thank you from the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program.”
Men’s basketball coach Tim Gilbride is one of the coaches most involved with the program, along with head football coach Dave Caputi, and values it both for the help it gives to the people of midcoast Maine, as well as the experience it provides for his players.
“I’d say me and Dave Caputi are probably the most involved and it’s because I believe that it’s a great thing that the Midcoast Hunger Prevention does,” Gilbride said. “Our players are always looking for good ways to be involved and it’s a real value for them to see that there are people right here in Brunswick who are hungry and unable to provide for themselves. The variety of people is astounding. There are people there who could have been working last week, and are now out of a job and out of money. It’s a very important program that holds value for not only those that receive food, but for our players as well.”
MCHPP’s soup kitchen, located at 84A Union Street in Brunswick, is across the railroad tracks from the McLellan Building. MCHPP sponsors a free meal for the public every weekday from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Individuals interested in volunteering for the program can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.