The Maine Sunday Telegram has published about the high demand at Maine food pantries.
The number of Mainers struggling to feed their families and turning to food pantries for help is rising to new heights as coronavirus cases spike and the state faces its worst loss of jobs in any recession in 50 years.
Food pantry directors say they have stockpiled enough food to meet the need for now, but the volunteer efforts are straining and more federal relief will be needed to address poverty and hunger as the pandemic wears on.
“There is a desperate need out there,” said Don Bisson, executive director of the Biddeford Food Pantry, where there has been a 25 percent increase in clients since this time last year.
News Center Maine reports that the City Council has extended the outdoor dining provisions through the winter to May 10th.
The Portland City Council voted unanimously Monday night to extend outdoor dining to May 10. The extension is part of the City’s emergency proclamation.
“This is not just for business owners, but for folks who work in one of our largest industries,” City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau said.
The City extended outdoor dining on public sidewalks and parking spots in October. That was set to expire Monday.
The Boston Globe has published an article on the impact the pandemic is having on the Portland restaurant scene.
Across the city, Portland’s restaurateurs are asking the same question. Battered by pandemic restrictions, the city’s once-thriving dining scene is now in depressing straits, contracting in ways that were unthinkable before the virus hit in March.
One-quarter to a third of the restaurants in the Portland area have closed after a sparse tourist season and might never reopen, industry observers said. And for those that have survived — so far, at least — revenue has shrunk to a small fraction of its pre-pandemic total, the workforce has been reduced to skeleton crews, and hopes for a turnaround next year are guarded, at best.
The Portland Phoenix has published an article about how food trucks have fared during the pandemic.
Falafel Mafia and Portland’s other food trucks have taken a hit like businesses in almost all other industries this year. But with more flexibility and a business model that already incorporates social distancing, they have also been able to cook up more opportunities.
“Food trucks are really built for what’s going on,” Joshua Dionne, owner of Korean-Mexican fusion truck Tacos Del Seoul, said last week. “It’s the whole culture: takeout.”
The monthly Eat Drink Lucky Tea Towel subscription service got a shout out in the Ruth Reichel holiday gift guide.
If you have a friend who is equally reluctant to let go of aging objects, they’d probably be thrilled with this extremely unusual monthly tea towel subscription. Each one is handmade by a Maine artist, and each is different. Best of all, they’re so lovely that even the most ardent collector would be embarrassed to store them in a drawer filled with tattered old rags. .
Governor Janet Mills has announced a $40M aid program to benefit the hospitality industry.
Governor Janet Mills announced today an economic recovery grant program to support Maine’s tourism, hospitality, and retail small businesses. Backed by $40 million in Federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), the Tourism, Hospitality & Retail Recovery Grant Program is focused specifically on supporting Maine’s service sector small businesses, such as restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, lodging and retail shops, which have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and now face additional challenges with the coming winter months.
Applications open on Wednesday.
The application portal will open Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. on DECD’s website and will remain open until funds are depleted. The application is expected to take about ten minutes to complete. Funds must be committed by December 30, 2020 per guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department.
Update: Opening of the application process has been delayed to 9am on Thursday December 3rd.
This week’s Portland Phoenix talked to Wayside, Good Shepherd, Preble Street, Full Plates, and Project FEED about the increased demand for assistance they’re responding to during the pandemic.
Additionally, according to Full Plates Full Potential, 43 percent of Maine’s public school children rely on school meals to get the food they need.
Portland’s increased need for food assistance has also been evident at Preble Street Food Programs. Joe Conroy, senior director of food programs and facilities at Preble Street, last week said his organization “has provided record amounts of food” to local people in need since the pandemic began, and is on track to provide 1 million meals in 2020.
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The city has announced a grant program to help businesses with costs for outdoor operations during the pandemic. The application deadline is December 9.
The City of Portland’s Winter Business Sustainability Grant Program (WBSG) is being launched today, November 19. Offering grants of up to $10,000, the Program’s purpose is to assist Portland businesses with the cost of maintaining a portion of their operations outside through the fall and winter, due to the pandemic. The program’s main objective is job retention.
Grant funds can be used for a variety of items including furniture, equipment, heaters, coverings, platforms, lighting, signage, barricades and other things needed to extend outdoor business operations as the temperatures goes down. Items must be purchased after November 19, 2020 to be eligible for grant reimbursement.
see program guidelines | download application
Governor Mills has announced a new measure intended to help curtail spiking Covid numbers by implementing a 9 pm curfew November 20th through December 6th.
Beginning tomorrow, Friday, November 20, 2020, through Sunday, December 6, 2020, all outdoor and indoor amusement venues, movie theaters, performing arts venues, casinos, and businesses that provide seated food and drink service, including social clubs, restaurants, and bars and tasting rooms currently open for outdoor service, will close for the night by 9:00 p.m. This limit on hours is designed to limit extended gatherings at a time when many students and family members are returning to Maine and at a time when social gatherings are more common, both of which will likely lead to more COVID-19 transmission.
The Coastal Enterprise Institute has provided grants to several restaurants, bars and other hospitality business to help them in efforts to winterize their businesses.
Recipients of the CEI Women’s Business Center Outdoor Dining Grants are: Chaval, Tu Casa, Cocktail Mary, LB Kitchen, Solo Italiano, Coffee By Design, eighteen twenty wines, Maine Oyster Company, and Anoche.