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Farm Bill Update

Hunger-Relief Advocates Thank Maine’s Congressional Delegation for Votes on Bipartisan Farm Bill Agreement that Protects Food Assistance

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps one in seven Mainers keep food on the table

AUBURN, ME — On Wednesday, December 12 the House voted 369-47 to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill agreement, following the Senate’s 87-13 vote to pass the bill yesterday. Good Shepherd Food Bank commends Maine’s Congressional delegation for voting to support the bipartisan compromise, which protects the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and invests in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). These are vital programs that help millions of Americans put food on the table every day.

“After many months of negotiating, Congress has arrived at what we think is a positive outcome,” said Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank. “We are grateful that Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin all voted for this Farm Bill agreement to ensure Mainers have access to nutritious food.”

In communities across our state, thousands of our neighbors struggle to access the nutritious food they need to be healthy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 15 percent of Maine households are food insecure, meaning they lack access to enough nutritious food.

Good Shepherd Food Bank, through its statewide network of local hunger relief partners, distributed 25 million meals in the past year to combat hunger in Maine. While the efforts of the charitable hunger relief sector are vital, it’s estimated that for every one meal provided by a food pantry or soup kitchen in this country, SNAP provides 12 meals.

SNAP, also known as food stamps, is Maine and our nation’s most important and effective anti-hunger program. In 2017, SNAP empowered 180,000 Mainers by providing access to nutritious food and the opportunity to shop for food with dignity. This Farm Bill agreement will help ensure that SNAP continues to feed families with children, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, and many working people who are in jobs with low wages or inconsistent hours. As we head into another Maine winter, SNAP will help keep food on the table for the one in seven Mainers who participate in the program.

As the Farm Bill debate took place throughout the past year, it was clear to advocates and service providers in Maine that the charitable hunger-relief system would not be able to make up for the cuts and harmful changes to SNAP being proposed by House Republicans. Were those changes to become law, potentially tens of thousands of Mainers would have lost access to the crucial food assistance they need to make ends meet. We are grateful this final Farm Bill agreement rejected damaging changes and will maintain a strong SNAP program that provides a lifeline for Mainers struggling with hunger.

In addition, the final bill invests in TEFAP, which provides nutritious food to food banks and local hunger relief organizations across the country, so they can care for people facing hunger in their community. This funding increase will help the charitable hunger relief sector provide even more meals to the people in need in the coming years.

Good Shepherd Food Bank is the largest hunger relief organization in Maine, which 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 contributes to a statewide effort to combat the root causes of hunger by engaging in advocacy, nutrition education, targeted interventions, and strategic partnerships. In 2018, the Food Bank has distributed 25 million meals to families, children, and seniors in need throughout Maine.