Laura Griffee ’17, with help from June Guo ’16, formed a new student baking club last year. Its members gather weekly to mix and bake ingredients, share recipes and eat homemade treats together.
The club stuffed apples in the fall, made cupcakes at Easter, and decorated cookies around Christmas time. But while all this was sweet and good, Griffee said she wanted to “grow and expand the club,” and attract new members.
When club member Lucy Luo ’16 told Griffee that she had volunteered as a cook at the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, which runs a food pantry and soup kitchen in Brunswick, the bakers got inspired.
Luo approached MCHPP to ask whether the club could volunteer its services every other Friday afternoon to bake goods for the people the agency serves.
Ethan Minton, MCHPP’s program director, said the baking club’s interest came at a perfect time. MCHPP had just launched a food pantry at Brunswick High School, where students who need extra food can grab a sandwich, a piece of fruit, or other food. One of the requests by the high schoolers was for more granola bars.
The baking club took on the job of making granola bars from scratch. They’ll make other items when needed. On a recent Friday, some of the members convened at MCHPP’s industrial kitchen to make 5 pans of granola (240 bars), using Rice Krispies, oats, honey, graham crackers, pretzels, brown sugar, chocolate chips and butter. MCHPP had been buying granola bars for the high school pantry from the grocery store, but Minton said the homemade ones are less expensive and healthier. “And it’s made with love,” he added.
Evan Montilla ’17, one of the volunteer bakers, said he joined the effort because volunteering at local soup kitchens was something he had done growing up, with his church. Griffee and Jaques said they, too, had volunteered with their churches to help at food pantries and soup kitchens.
As Minton worked around the students in the MCHPP kitchen, tending to a roast, he said that volunteers are critical to the organization’s mission. “We need 175 volunteers a week to keep us afloat,” he explained, adding that the organization served 4,200 meals in March, a record number. “And we get thousands of hours of volunteering from Bowdoin students every year.”