Recipient Stories

south portland food cupboard client interview
Client Interview


(The names and some details have been changed in order to protect identities)


Alice is a single mother of three daughters.  The oldest just turned thirteen.

The young father is in jail charged for drug possession…again.  This time, the street drugs are more than the “gateway” drugs he started with three years ago.

He tried.  He promised.  He tried again. The rent money “disappeared.”  He sold his car to support his habit.  He lost his job.  He is now in danger of losing his family.  There is no income, no child support.  Food insecurity in their temporary housing is an everyday-problem for Alice and the girls.  Along with minimal support from family, this young mother is hoping to find a part time job when the girls return to school.  Suddenly, this national epidemic has landed squarely on her shoulders.

It could happen in any family.  We don’t judge, but we do our best to see that they leave with bags of healthy groceries.


Family of 6

A family of six spent two years in refugee detention camps waiting;  three adults and three children who fled  the terror of life in Iraq.

The children have witnessed the brutalities of war, the death of family and friends and the misery of food insecurity.  They sought and were finally granted legal “asylum” status, arriving here with very little except for the clothes on their backs and hope for a better life.

The family is grateful for the assistance they receive from compassionate friends, churches and local government agencies but still need additional help.

We do our best to provide them with food to lessen their fear of hunger.

Sometimes, the grandmother represents them when she comes to see us with her grandson on her hip.  She is awestruck by the selection of fresh vegetables we offer!  Her gratitude is evident by her tears of joy and toothy grin as she leaves with bags of healthy groceries for her family.



A blended family with a teenage son and a 5 year old live in a small basement apartment of a relative for the time being.  After surviving two deployments to Iraq, Leon’s marriage fell apart.  He is still receiving treatment for PTSD.  He receives a military benefit but is still unable to work.  His girlfriend and her young daughter also share the space. She receives food stamps.  She would like to look for work but is uneasy about leaving her five-year old with Leon during the summer.  Her daughter is due to start kindergarten this September when she hopes to seek employment.




Imagine the desperation of a father who schemes to bring his frightened family to the border of his war-torn country.  His three children and partially disabled wife have lived in constant fear. He stays behind to hide their disappearance for as long as possible. The mother and children survive the long and arduous journey through refugee detention camps and eventual arrival in Maine.  They seek and are granted legal “Asylum” status. There is still no word about the father’s safety or survival.  The family is grateful for the assistance they receive from compassionate friends, churches and local government, but needs additional help to survive.  Imagine living in a climate that is entirely different from their sub-tropical origins and still fearful of their strange new surroundings.  They strive for a better life. We do our best to provide them with food to lessen their fear of hunger.



Carla hasn’t been here for awhile.  Things were going better for her and her 2 daughters.  Now they are not.  She still works, but only on an “as needed” basis.  Her employer doesn’t call her often enough.  She will be having knee surgery next month which will prevent her from working at all during her six-week recovery period.  Both girls will be returning to school before long and Carla struggles to provide them with the basics–let alone the “extras” that middle-school girls would like to have.  The food she chooses from our Cupboard helps her keep them healthy.  We share the contacts we have with other sources for clothing and school supplies.



Stanley never married and has just turned 61 years of age.  He has worked all his life.  He has a long list of various jobs he’d held over the years. He lived modestly and put away some funds regularly towards his anticipated retirement.  There would be no company pensions, but between his Social Security and his savings, he was confident that he would be able to continue to live independently and maybe enjoy a few of the perks of life in a few years.  This past March, Stanley was diagnosed with leukemia and his dreams seem farther away than he had hoped.  Technically, his income is $120 over his eligibility to come to the Cupboard, but his current medications put him well below the poverty line.  We could not–and did not turn him away.



Jamie is motivated to finish school and graduate.  So is her younger sister, Britta. We consider them “short-timers” here at the Cupboard.  They seem much older than their dates of birth indicate.  Both have part-time jobs and share a room in off -campus housing near the local community college.  They have seen the devastation that drugs and alcohol can do to a family and are determined to have a better life.  Their share of the rent for the apartment amounts to half of their current income. We offer them protein, vegetables, fruit and much more.  We also applaud their goals and aspirations.