Maine Food Bank Gets 3 Million for Hunger Relief Throughout the State
The Finance Authority of Maine has awarded Good Shepherd Food Bank $3 million to purchase vegetables, fruits, and seafood from Maine producers to be distributed to hunger relief programs across the state.
Good Shepherd Food Bank will utilize the funds for its Mainers Feeding Mainers program. Through this program, the food bank purchases food from Maine farms and fisheries and distributes the items to more than 400 partner agencies across the state, including food pantries, meal sites, and schools.
Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank, says the funding comes from the Fund for a Healthy Maine and was made available as a result of legislation passed in the spring of 2016. The bill, titled Resolve, To Facilitate the Distribution of Food Harvested in Maine to Residents with Food Insecurity, was sponsored by Senate President Michael Thibodeau.
The law requires FAME to contract with an organization that will purchase, process, store, and transport fresh and fresh frozen fruits and vegetables and seafood harvested in the state in order to increase access to these foods for food insecure Mainers. Good Shepherd Food Bank has three years in which to spend the money.
The Mainers Feeding Mainers program was initially established with private philanthropic dollars. Milae says The Fund for a Healthy Maine award will allow the program to grow and will provide a stable source of funding for several years to come.
Good Shepherd Food Bank, which currently contracts with 50 farms across the state, plans to increase to 80 farm partnerships in the coming years. In 2015, the Food Bank purchased 840,000 pounds from Maine farms and fisheries. The organization plans to increase purchasing steadily throughout the 3-year contract term, bringing that number to approximately 1.3 million pounds purchased from local sources in 2018.
The Food Bank distributed a total of 24 million pounds of food to Mainers in need in the past year through its network of 400 local partner agencies across the state.
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