Maine has the highest rate of hunger in the northeast and, unfortunately, children and their families are among the vulnerable populations most affected by food insecurity. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect that 70,000 children will experience hunger in 2020 as a result of living in a food-insecure household.
Many of these children are supported by school nutrition programs, such as free breakfast, lunch, and afterschool snacks, which ensure they get the nutrition they need to thrive throughout the school day. Schools and hunger-fighting partners have done an exceptional job continuing their foodservice programs and innovating to meet the needs of their students during the pandemic. Still, these meals only go so far in supporting the household’s overall food security. This is where Good Shepherd Food Bank’s work steps in to support students and their families.
Through the Food Bank’s School Pantry Program, Good Shepherd Food Bank partners with over 210 public schools, early childhood centers, and college campuses to provide easy, consistent access to nutritious food for students and their families. Our school partners not only serve as food distribution sites in vulnerable areas, but also function as vital community resource hubs where families feel welcomed, supported, and safe.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools closed their doors in March, transforming the spring and summer months to an unwelcomed period of time because many Maine families with children lost reliable access to regular meals. Good Shepherd Food Bank, an essential service, continues to channel all of our efforts to be a strong resource to the state of Maine during these unprecedented times and supported our school partners’ efforts to maintain access to nutritious foods for the families in their communities.
This “Stories from the Road” piece showcases our school partners across the state and the tremendous work involved in pivoting their distribution models in the wake of COVID-19. The actions taken by our partners to safely distribute food ensured that Maine children and their families would have access to nutritious food throughout the summer months.