How We got Started
Bon Appetit Community Meal Program began with a Christmas dinner in 1989 put on by members of the community who were concerned for those in need making it through the holidays. The meal has help at the Riverworks Restaurant on Main Street in Biddeford. Within a year the attendance grew from 25 to 65 dinners five nights a week. In September 1991, the program began looking for a new space. St. Andre’s Parish Council graciously offered the former credit union building on High Street as a temporary home for the kitchen. This site was used until November 1995. We were housed at the former Fremont club until our numbers outgrew the facility.
Who We Are Now
Today, Bon Appetit has partnered with Second Congregational Church and serves meals in their fellowship hall 5 nights a week between 4:30 and 5:30pm to an average of 75 people ranging in age from infant to 93. We receive food donations from the Good Shepherd Food Bank as well as local stores and restaurants. We receive additional financial support from the United Way, the town of Biddeford, local businesses and banks, individuals as well as Second Congregational Church. We have a full time director, Debie Gagnon, and many volunteers each week that make our program possible.
By offering opportunities to volunteer in our kitchen and learn more about the issues our guests face, our meal program is a way to develop understanding between our guests and our community. Nutrition is important, especially when physical and mental health issues are a concern for many of our guests. All of our food is made with fresh ingredients that include whole grains, fresh meats, and fruit and vegetables and we serve a complete meal from appetizer to dessert.
Because much of our food is donated to us by local gardens and grocery stores, we are able to keep our food costs to less than $1 per meal.
We served over 12,000 guests in 2010 and currently serve between 55 and 85 men, women and children each weekday.
How You Can Help
Bon Appetit is a 501c3 charity and appreciates any financial assistance you can provide. We also accept donations of non-perishable food. Contact Bon Appetit at 207.205.0995 for information on donations.
You can also help Bon Appetit by volunteering your time in a number of ways.
Help Serve Dinner Dinner volunteers help prepare and serve a healthy meal to our guests. Shift: Monday – Friday, 3 – 6 pm. Call 207.205.0995 to schedule a time to volunteer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What kind of volunteers are you looking for?
A: We’re looking for reliable volunteers who can commit to joining us at least once a month, preferably on a long-term basis.
Q: What should I do first if I want to volunteer at Bon Appetit?
A: Please call the director, Debie Gagnon at 207.205.0995.
Q: What should I wear when I volunteer?
A: Please wear comfortable clothing! Closed-toe shoes, long pants and a t-shirt/long-sleeve shirt are required. For your safety, sandals, shorts, skirts, dresses and tank tops are not allowed.
Q: Where should I go when I arrive at Second Congregational for my volunteer shift?
A: We’re located in the basement fellowship hall at Second Congregational. Please enter through the kitchen door located to the left of the main Church entrance door.
Q: How do I schedule a group to volunteer?
A: Depending on the size of your group, we may not be able to accomodate you (7 volunteers is the most we can accomodate at any one time). Please contact Debie Gagnon at 207.205.0995 to inquire about group volunteering.
Q: Do you have volunteer opportunities for children?
A: Yes, we can provide opportunities for responsible children 12 and older to assist with the various tasks at Bon Appetit. The student will need to follow directions and work independently under the supervision of Bon Appetit staff. Community service hours might be able to be accumulated based on your requirements.