“We are used to cooking for ourselves, using culturally relevant food,” said Crystal Cron, the founder of Presente, a food program that has grown from a small back yard project at Island View Apartments on Munjoy HIll into a major program that is currently housed at Gateway Community Services, 509 Forest Avenue. The large space became available at The Gateway because of the pandemic – leaving a parking garage and program space available for Presente to occupy until September 2020.
The group of volunteers began serving the Latin X culture – a group of people who are not citizens and so don’t get benefits such as food stamps from the government. The need is so great these days that the program has expanded to be available to anyone in need of food. Part of what distinguishes Presente from other food programs is that it serves 15 different ethnic communities in the Greater Portland area – bringing with it the unique needs of each ethnic community.
Today volunteers were sorting and packing food to be delivered to 55 families in downtown Portland by Cron and her partner Ramirez. Today’s route is the largest of the ten different routes served by Presente.
To finance the expanding program, Cron has written numerous grants and been successful in receiving funding from them. Some sources of funding include Haymarket, Cumberland County Food Security Council, Maine Women’s Fund of New England, Good Shepard and Maine Initiatives.
None of the funding received goes toward salaries Cron said. No one gets paid and everyone, including Cron are volunteers. More volunteers are needed she said. A volunteer graphic designer is needed to help with the website in particular. To volunteer, email: email@example.com
“We care about getting food to people. That’s what we do,” said Cron, said Cron who grew up in poverty in Portland. “We don’t celebrate the Fourth of July like others do. We don’t have the luxury to relax, because our lives are a daily struggle.”