Back to Fort Fairfield Journal      WFFJ-TV      Contact Us


Friends Helping Friends Food Pantry Closing its Doors


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, May 8, 2019


   For the past twelve years, Friends Helping Friends Food pantry has been assisting the elderly and others in need in the Fort Fairfield area with food and spiritual resources to better their lives.  However, founder and director, Steve Lewis has announced the pantry will be closing this month, with the last food give-out day on May 20.

   “My wife and I have come to a new season in our lives, our children are all grown up and moved on in their lives,” said Lewis, who is originally from Missouri.  “Our last surviving parent lives 30 hours away and we had to come up with a decision that we know is right for us.  My wife and I will be moving back to Missouri to live, sometime this year.”

   Steve and his wife, Barb have lived in Aroostook County since 2002 and have become an integral part of the community.  Over twelve years ago, Lewis started Friends Helping Friends with the assistance of Shawn Murchison and Jeff Armstrong.  The pantry’s home was in the back warehouse of the Armstrong Engineering building on Presque Isle Street until it moved to its new location behind Celebration Center, on the Houlton Road a few years ago.

   “We truly enjoyed our time here, made lots of friends, worked side-by-side with many wonderful people and shared many meals, laughs and fun,” said Lewis.  “But it’s time for us to go and be with my Dad and the rest of my family.”

   Over the years, Friends Helping Friends has grown exponentially, enlisting the help of many volunteers of all age groups.  Nourishing the body, as well as the soul, was the primary mission of the food pantry as Lewis sought to both provide food to those in need as well as the good news of Christianity.

   “I have enjoyed serving the town of Fort Fairfield, running Friends Helping Friends and will never forget all the wonderful people who teamed up with me over the last twelve years to be a blessing to those in need.  It is a bittersweet moment because I will miss you, but I am also looking forward to being with family, and that is very important.”

   While the pantry will close, the support system it has built up over the years will remain in place under varying capacities.  “I will be working out some things with Dixie from Catholic Charities as well as a local church group in town for food emergency situations.”

   “I have been blessed to have run the pantry for twelve years and enjoyed the experience of being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in our town with the help of many.  Dixie and her crew will be bringing the Senior Commodities to town still, and also will be dropping off senior Commodities to Stacey and her crew at Fields Lane, Hillcrest Estates and the Meadows.”  All other recipients will be able to pick up their food at the Catholic church on the designated day.

   “The purpose of the food pantry is for emergency situations from time to time.  The plan at the moment will be for emergency only situations, the town office can be contacted and you will be referred to whichever church in town takes on the role of having an emergency food pantry.   Everything will work out fine and the transition will be very smooth so please do not panic.”

   After the pantry closes the building will returned to Celebration Center.  “The majority of the material donated to build the building came from Celebration Center for their ministry school.  At the time, they offered it to me with the agreement that if I ever step down from the ministry the building would have to be returned to them.”

   “Thank you to all of you who have given of your finances, your time, your prayers and resources over the past twelve years.  Like I always said, Friends Helping Friends is a ‘We Thing, not a Me Thing!’  What a great team I have been blessed with over the years!  We will be operating until the end of May as we finalize things and then will be working hard to get the building emptied so it can be returned to Celebration Center.

  As a 501 c(3) non-profit corporation,   Friends Helping Friends has been sustained over the years by voluntary donations both of food and money but that support is no longer needed.  “Thank you all for your financial donations and as of right now, you can stop sending your support.”

    Lewis will be sending out a newsletter the end of this month outlining the changes and food locations after they are finalized.

   “For those of you who pray, please pray for Barb and me as we work on get our house ready to sell; that God will send us a motivated buyer for our home; that there will be no stress and everything will go smoothly so we can go be with our family, especially my father.  Thank you for your support and prayers.

June 5, 2019 Update:  Steve and his wife, Barb have decided to remain in Fort Fairfield.  The last day of Friends Helping Friends Food Pantry’s operations were May 20, 2019.