Auburn, ME – The Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) 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, which submitted a successful proposal to FAME in response to a recent RFP, 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.
“Our farm partners are providing us with top quality, nutritious food for our neighbors in need,” said Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank. “This funding will allow us to expand our work with Maine farmers, putting money back into local communities, and help us distribute healthier options to families that are having trouble putting food on the table. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
The funding, which comes from the Fund for a Healthy Maine, 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 Fund for a Healthy Maine (FHM) was created in 1999 in order to dedicate funds from Maine’s share of the 46-state lawsuit against the tobacco industry. Funds were to be dedicated to health promotion and disease prevention. In 2011, recognizing its place as the #2 driver of chronic disease, obesity was added as one of the categories funded under the FHM.
“The Friends of the Fund for a Healthy Maine are proud to support this effort to increase access to affordable, healthy foods in communities, especially among economically disadvantaged populations,” said Tina Pettingill, chair of the Friends of the Fund for a Healthy Maine. “Increasing access to healthy foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, can lead to increased consumption of these foods which has demonstrated impacts on not only hunger but also preventing disease and reducing obesity.”
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.
“FAME was honored to have been entrusted by the Legislature with conducting the RFP process and disbursing the funds. We consulted experts in the areas of food insecurity and farming, and all were impressed by Good Shepherd’s submission and plans for the money,” stated Bruce Wagner, Chief Executive Officer of the FAME. “We know how serious the issue of food insecurity is in our state and are pleased that Maine farmers will play an increasing role in addressing this need.”
The Mainers Feeding Mainers program was initially established with private philanthropic dollars. 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.
About Good Shepherd Food Bank
As the largest hunger relief organization in Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank provides for Mainers facing hunger by distributing nutritious food to more than 400 partner agencies across the state, including food pantries, meal sites, schools, and senior programs. Together with its network, the Food Bank leads a statewide effort to combat the root causes of hunger by engaging in advocacy, nutrition education, and strategic partnerships. In 2015, the Food Bank distributed 20 million meals to families, children, and seniors in need throughout Maine. Website: www.feedingmaine.org; Phone: (207) 782-3554; Facebook: www.facebook.com/feedingmaine; Twitter: www.twitter.com/feedingmaine.
About the Finance Authority of Maine
FAME is a quasi-independent state agency that expands business and educational opportunities to help Maine people and businesses succeed. FAME helps to lead the creation of good paying jobs by working at the nexus between economic development and workforce development. To learn more about FAME, please visit FAMEmaine.com