Avesta partner provides groceries to food-insecure residents

Inflation hits lower-income populations the hardest. When the price of groceries increases dramatically, people who are already struggling to buy basic necessities are in danger of going hungry. Avesta Housing has formed partnerships with numerous food banks to help ensure that residents who are food insecure receive the help they need. One of the oldest and largest of these partners is Wayside Food Programs.

An Avesta staff member collects food from Wayside Food Program’s warehouse to distribute to residents during a summer barbecue for Pearl Place and Unity at Bayside in Portland.

A nonprofit founded in the 1980s, Wayside salvages edible food that is not sellable for cosmetic reasons, packaging imperfections, and/or inventory levels from grocery stores, wholesalers, farms, and other food establishments. That food is then redirected to soup kitchens, food pantries, and other social service agencies across southern Maine.

Wayside distributes community meals at two Avesta family properties: Brick Hill in South Portland and 409 Cumberland in Portland. It also provides food to our senior properties and at events held by property management teams for residents.

Many of the volunteers who assist with the distribution live at Avesta properties or in the surrounding communities, which typically contain the same economic demographic.

Avesta has been a great partner for us, because it’s such a perfect fit, said Wayside Executive Director Mary Zwolinski.

Unlike some food pantries that have designated pick-up times at a permanent location, Wayside operates as a mobile food provider. The concept is simple but effective: Bring the food to the people who need it.

“Wayside thinks outside the box,” said Nicholas Kjeldgaard, resident service manager with Avesta Housing.