Since Good Shepherd Food Bank kicked off our Food For All campaign in May 2018, we’ve heard from many donors who didn’t realize food is being distributed from Kittery to Fort Kent and everywhere in between. That’s a 35,385 square mile area served by partnering with food pantries, soup kitchens, and programs all over Maine. In Aroostook County, the most northern county Maine, we have the privilege of partnering with Catholic Charities, the only food bank north of Bangor.
To shed some authentic, unfiltered light on our long-term relationship with Catholic Charities, and how our new 40,000 square foot distribution center in Hampden will help them, we went straight to the person who knows best – their long-term, incredibly passionate and remarkably colorful Director of Hunger and Relief Services, Dixie Shaw. Dixie has worked for Catholic Charities for 31 years but “I’ve had my nose stuck in the food bank since 1990.”
Dixie oversees the operations of two Catholic Charities warehouses (located in Monticello and Caribou), which distributes to 24 food pantries throughout Aroostook County. In 2018, the warehouses combined to distribute nearly 1.6 million pounds of food helping 21,260 people. When we asked her how she expected to benefit from our new distribution center in Hampden, Dixie didn’t mince words:
“It’s shrinking the state. We won’t be so far away anymore.”
Dixie went on to talk about how every hour saved on a trucker’s distance saves two hours of driving time that is all regulated. “Ninety percent of the food we get from Good Shepherd comes out of its Auburn warehouse, which adds two hours to the trip. Once Hampden is fully operational and we start getting all our food from there, it’s going to allow their trucks to make more frequent trips to our warehouses, which means more fresh food for us to send to the 24 pantries we serve. It’s going to make everything so much more accessible for the northern part of Maine,” Dixie concluded.
While we had her on the phone, we also asked Dixie what else she gets out of her partnership with our organization. “It’s like having my own on-call consultant. If I’m having trouble recruiting or training volunteers, if something breaks that we can’t fix or I have a food safety question I need help with, I call Kai Loundon. If Kai can’t help me, he calls Feeding America for me. Thanks to Good Shepherd, I have an army of food banking specialists behind me at all times and not just for me, but for my 24 food pantries too.”
As you can see in the photo above, the much-needed repaving project of our Hampden facility got underway just last week. We still have nearly $1 million to go in order to fully fund this $5 million renovation project of the former printing facility of the Bangor Daily News. As Dixie pointed out, this new facility will enable us to receive produce directly from local farmers, store it at the proper temperature in industrial size coolers, and then ship it to Catholic Charities and other partners throughout Downeast and northern Maine.
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