At Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine, we are asking the big questions as we continue to grow to meet the needs of Mainers facing hunger.
Climate change affects global food security. It affects every aspect of the agricultural industries and food supply. Severe warming, floods, and droughts reduce yields, livestock faces risks from heat stress from elevated temperatures and reduced quality of their food supply, and fisheries will be affected by changes in water temperatures that enable invasive species to thrive while shifting the lifecycle of certain fish species. These are just a few examples of what the food system faces. The results of the multiple disruptions to our ecosystems threaten food safety and food security.
Our Green Pledge: We are doing our part in mitigating the detrimental effects of climate change. Climate change directly impacts poverty and hunger as it adds to the preexisting circumstances our neighbors currently face.
Our Green Initiatives program substitutes our typical energy systems with efficient green technology systems to decrease our carbon footprint. Our main priority is to be good stewards of our resources.
The Food Bank works with Agri-Cycle Waste Recycling to dispose of non-edible products in a safe, cost-effective manner to save more of our resources to dedicate to our mission of ending hunger in Maine. Our relationship began in 2013, and Agri-Cycle’s system was designed to be energy efficient as it converts food waste into renewable energy and healthy soil. This very easy-to-use system has significantly impacted meeting our energy efficiency and sustainability goals.
Agri-Cycle’s system uses anaerobic digesters and composters that convert food waste into renewable energy and fresh soil. The process is very simple; we place the food waste in specialized totes, then trucks transport the totes to bio tanks located in Exeter, New Hampshire, and that waste is then converted into energy. All packaging is also sent to Agri-Cycle for recycling.
Although the Food Bank has been doing this for years, we are making plans and purchasing equipment to do more of this. Composting challenges for us are de-packaging the food waste within our facility. Food Bank team members are reviewing options to increase this low-cost method of recycling where appropriate.
Solar panels and tubes are an essential aspect of the Food Bank’s green initiatives program and provide so many benefits extending from supplying clean and efficient energy to our facilities to reducing C02 emissions that affect our surrounding environment.
Community solar investors, Fritz and Susan Onion, paid for the panels, which allows the Food Bank to purchase energy at below-market rates. This also helped the Food Bank realize energy cost savings immediately without an upfront capital investment. The Food Bank will have the option to purchase the panels at a depreciated cost to generate its own electricity for the long term.
The Food Bank has installed 895 roof top solar panels at our Auburn distribution center and 840 ground solar panels at the Hannaford Center, the Hampden distribution center. These solar panel units produce over 700 kWh annually, which is approximately 70% of our total energy consumption. The first-year estimated solar production in Auburn was 355,831 kWh and 359,269 KWh in Hampden.
Solar tubes have been installed in rooms and halls with no natural light. They are reflective portals that externally transfer natural sunlight to power light diffusers installed within the facilities’ ceilings. The solar panels absorb natural sunlight to power our facilities’ energy systems. The photovoltaic (PV) cell array collects sunlight and converts it to direct current (DC) electricity that flows to the inverter within the system. This inverter then converts the DC electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used to power common electrical utilities and appliances. Our energy costs have also declined significantly, allowing us to allocate these savings to acquire more efficient technologies and save even more energy.
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