ACAP cereal tree


December 16, 2019
Sherry Locke, Development and Communications Manager
(207) 554-4130
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Cereal donations will help feed children in Aroostook County this winter

PRESQUE ISLE –This year marked ACAP’s fourth year of participating in the St. Apollonia Dental Clinic Festival of Trees in an effort to both raise awareness of food insecurity in Aroostook County, and to collect cereal boxes to distribute to children who attend their early care and education centers, as well as stock Community Cupboards across Aroostook County. This year ACAP staff donated 577 boxes, which was matched with over 700 additional boxes graciously donated by local grocers, totaling over 1,300 boxes. A Huge Thank You to: Andy's IGA, Aroostook Foods, Caribou/Houlton Hannaford Supermarket, Caribou/Presque Isle Save A Lot, Country Farms Market, Ellis Family Market, Graves' Shop'n Save, Jerry's Foodstore, John's Shurfine, Mike's Family Market, Oakfield Thriftway, Paradis Family Shop'n Save, Presque Isle/ Houlton Walmart & Star City/Hillside/Mars Hill IGA.

“Food insecurity is a very real issue in our communities. Our staff across Aroostook County work with individuals and families to provide comprehensive services and meet multiple needs, including addressing hunger issues,” said Jason Parent, ACAP Executive Director. “The Community Cupboards are helping people meet their immediate food needs when other resources are not accessible or available. The cereal collected during this annual drive helps stock the shelves of these cupboards, many of which are located outside, during the cold winter months when other food products would freeze.”

Several weeks leading up to the Festival each year, staff at ACAP host an internal cereal drive, bringing in hundreds of boxes of nutrient fortified cereal. During the Festival of Trees at Northern Maine Community College the first weekend in December, volunteers use those boxes to construct a large “tree” display. While most of the trees on display at the Festival invite participants to place tickets in buckets for a chance to win the display, ACAP’s Community Giving Tree has a unique twist. Instead of winning the tree of cereal, participants show their support for ending hunger in Aroostook County by placing their tickets in the bucket understanding that local grocers have pledged to match tickets collected with additional boxes of cereal. This year we collected 1,024 tickets and were proud to share that with the help of our local grocery store partners, we were able to exceed the donation!

ACAP Family Coach Heidi Rackliffe first spearheaded the project five years ago. The inaugural year was a resounding success that far exceeded expectations. Star City, Hillside and Mars Hill IGAs, had pledged to match up to 250 tickets collected with cereal boxes. Rackliffe said they were hopeful, but unsure how many they would actually collect, and ended up with nearly 1,200 tickets. That prompted the organizers to invite all Aroostook County grocers to pledge a donation the following year in hopes of matching even more of the tickets. Now grocers from Houlton to Fort Kent have participated for the past four years including:

"Our Community Giving Tree is an opportunity to start a conversation about hunger and express empathy and compassion for others at a difficult time of year,” said Rackliffe. “I watched parents come by our display with their children and read the sign we placed in front of it explaining the tree's purpose and then those kids placed one or more of their valuable tickets in our bucket. Watching young children make a conscious choice to help others just warms my heart."

Again, this year, Shannon Hill, of ACAP’s Energy and Housing staff, coordinated the Community Giving Tree project both within the agency and with the local community. “The idea was to feed even more people by making this year’s cereal tree bigger than ever before,” said Hill. “The more cereal we collect, the more people benefit. Once again, our community made this event a huge success. Another great example of neighbors helping neighbors.”

ACAP will distribute the cereal boxes to each of the children who attend their early care and education programs as they leave for the break between Christmas and New Year. The remaining boxes will stock ACAP’s community food cupboards during the winter months when people are most vulnerable to hunger.


ACAP provides the people of Aroostook County with services and resources that help individuals and families achieve greater economic independence. As a leader, or in partnership with others, ACAP provides guidance to the community in responding to emerging human needs in the areas of community health, early care and education, energy and housing, and workforce development services. For more information on ACAP, or to make a tax-deductible contribution, please contact the agency at 771 Main Street, on the web at, or by calling 764-3721.