Good Shepherd Food Bank marks success of ambitious campaign and prepares for future challenges
AUBURN, Maine—Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine distributed a record 33.6 million meals in its last fiscal year, exceeding a target it has been working toward since 2015. This milestone comes as a result of the Food Bank’s recently completed $250 million Campaign to End Hunger in Maine, which helped the state’s largest hunger relief organization rapidly scale distribution through donated food and funds.
“In 2015 we set a bold goal to grow our meal distribution from 19 million meals per year to over 30 million, which is in line with the estimated need we’ve seen in Maine over the past eight years,” said Erin Fogg, vice president of development and communications for the Food Bank. “Not only have we exceeded our original target, but we’ve distributed more nutritious and culturally relevant foods, and increased access to food through new and expanded partnerships.”
Good Shepherd Food Bank credits its growth to the partnership of many, including the network of more than 600 hunger relief organizations across the state that continues to be a lifeline to Mainers experiencing hunger, and the more than 50,000 donors who helped raise $105 million in funds and $162 million in donated food over the past four years, for a total of $267 million raised for the Campaign to End Hunger.
Of the $267 million raised, more than $226 million has already supported communities across the state in the form of food distribution and grants to community partners in the last four years. All told during the four-year campaign, the Food Bank worked with partners to source and distribute more than 120 million meals and granted $12.7 million to community organizations to increase access to food.
Additional campaign funds have helped expand more equitable access to food through partnerships with schools, health care centers, and organizations led by and serving people of color. The organization has also grown its advocacy efforts, created Harvesting Good, a subsidiary of the Food Bank dedicated to processing local produce, and built a modest endowment to strengthen sustainability and support continued innovation for the future.
Despite the Food Bank’s growth, the organization, statewide partners, and communities are feeling the strain of increased food costs, inflation, and a reduction in pandemic-era public benefits that temporarily reduced rates of food insecurity in Maine.
“Many of our partners across Maine are reporting that they are seeing a need that is higher now than it was during the start of the pandemic,” says Shannon Coffin, the Food Bank’s vice president of community partnerships. “We’ve grown food distribution to a scale that aligns with the estimated need, and now we need to maintain that scale while fine-tuning our understanding of needs at the community level, particularly for communities and populations that are disproportionately impacted by hunger.”
“Our Campaign to End Hunger in Maine was unprecedented in many ways, being among the largest campaigns for a human services organization in our state, and the feeling at the finish line is equally unique,” noted Fogg. “Generous food and philanthropic donors have helped us reach a critical milestone on our journey to end hunger and together we are alleviating suffering and reducing the devastating impacts and costs of hunger across Maine,” said Fogg. “But we don’t have a ribbon to cut or a moment to celebrate; communities are counting on us to maintain this level of food distribution while we partner on root cause solutions that reduce demand on the charitable food network.”
Food Bank leaders have been advocating in recent months to reinstate COVID-era SNAP benefits to address increased rates of food insecurity across the state. The Food Bank is also partnering with community organizations and the state of Maine on its Roadmap to End Hunger by 2030, which is aimed at reducing rates of food insecurity.
Heather Paquette, the Food Bank’s newly named president, is helping lead the organization on the next leg of its journey.
“There are many lessons we’ve learned as we’ve grown our food distribution, and the biggest lesson is the importance of partnerships,” shared Paquette. “Our growth has been in partnership with community organizations, businesses, foundations, and individuals, and our future growth will require new and different partnerships in addition to those valued relationships so that we can all work to end hunger for good.”
The Campaign to End Hunger represents the Food Bank’s largest fundraising endeavor to date. Hannaford Supermarkets, a founding partner of the Food Bank, led the campaign with donated food valuing nearly $75 million. In addition to a $25 million dollar grant from MacKenzie Scott in 2021, more than 50,000 unique individuals, businesses, and foundations contributed to the campaign.