Our Equity & Root Cause Approach
We recognize that hunger is rooted in poverty and reinforced by systemic inequities, including, among others, classism and racism. In Maine, we see the disproportionate impact of hunger across poor and working-class white communities and across all communities of color.
In order to end hunger in our state, we must include those impacted and elevate their voices in our planning and decision-making, listen to understand the diverse experiences and needs of Mainers at risk of hunger, and invest in and work alongside our partners and neighbors to create equitable access to nutritious and culturally relevant foods.
Historically, the charitable food system, including Good Shepherd Food Bank, has conveyed hunger as an issue that can be solved by charitable food distribution, supported by individual acts such as donating food, funds, or time. While our ongoing food distribution and the support of individual actions are critical and alleviate much suffering, we acknowledge that ending hunger for good requires an understanding of the historic, social, and economic forces that create and perpetuate the root causes of hunger and a collective societal response.
Understanding that we will continually learn how best to advance our mission while aspiring to center equity in our work, Good Shepherd Food Bank commits to:
- Incorporating work to address the root causes of hunger by centering racial, economic, and geographic disparities at the core of our approach.
- Deepening relationships and building trust with Mainers experiencing hunger.
- Closing Maine’s meal gap by improving access to nutritious and culturally relevant food and by centering Mainers experiencing food insecurity.
- Developing community understanding of the root causes of hunger and advocating and investing in collaborative, equitable, and community-driven solutions.
- Fostering an equitable and inclusive organizational culture where all people thrive.
Equity ensures the ways we operate as an organization are rooted in the awareness and recognition that power and resources are not distributed equally, creating advantages for those who have more and disadvantaging those who have less. Equity requires us to respond to these inequalities by using our influence to level the playing field and prioritize the reallocation of resources to our most vulnerable communities.
Diversity is the presence of differences within a given setting, such as a group of individuals who represent a range of different identities across race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, gender, ability, gender identity, religion, age, and socioeconomic status.
Diversity can also be applied to the presence of differences across values, ideas, and perspectives.
Inclusion actively invites the contribution and participation of all people while intentionally engaging members from underrepresented groups in a way that ensures these group members are seen, heard, and valued as part of the full group.