BAR HARBOR — Several years after launching a new business venture to support their operations, Bar Harbor Food Pantry officials are reporting resounding success.
Serendipity, a used-clothing store run by food pantry volunteers, this year brought in $30,000 to the food pantry’s coffers, adding nearly 30 percent to the group’s annual revenue stream. The venture has allowed pantry officials to enjoy some stability in funding while also making a series of improvements for their ever-expanding client base, said Katie Freedman, a member of the pantry board of directors.
“We are incredibly proud of the success of the store and its ability to provide sustainable, foundational support for food pantry operations,” Freedman said. “It has given us some stability in our funding and the ability to make some improvements in the services that the pantry is providing for its clients.”
Serendipity is staffed by “a wonderful group” of nearly 30 volunteers, pantry director Kate Maginn Sebelin said. Some help seasonally, while others contribute all year round. All are vital to the operations of the store, she said.
During the first three years, income from Serendipity was used to pay back the startup loan needed to get it off the ground. Over the past three years, though, increasing profits, now totaling $70,000, have gone directly into the pantry’s account. This has allowed for improvements, such as increased access to produce, fresh foods and healthy items, as well as a planned increase in the number of days the pantry is open per month.
The number of Hancock County residents relying on the pantry for help has risen steadily over recent years. The pantry now serves an average of 155 families per month, which is 20 more than the average last year. The group’s annual budget of more than $100,000 comes from community, municipal and church donations. The pantry receives no state government or federal funding.
One of the original goals for Serendipity was to have it support the bulk of the operations of the food pantry. While the operation is not at that level yet, Sebelin said it is still a possibility moving forward.
“Each year, the profits have been a bit more than the last, so I’m hopeful that it continues on in that pattern,” she said.