Skip to content

Letter From the Food Bank

Dear Friend,

As spring turns to summer, many of us — and our kids — start to think about summer vacations, swimming pools, grilling out, and travel. It’s a great time to take a break from the routines of the school year.

It’s a great break, that is, unless you have children who rely on accessing free meals at school. Many families are trying to figure out how to provide enough food for their children during the months when those free breakfasts and lunches are no longer available, while often juggling added expenses for child care, too.

That’s why this issue of our Helping Hands newsletter features children and the people who are working to help them. We’re addressing summer hunger in Maine, and how we can all work together to help more Maine families.

Of course, summer hunger affects more than just children. For many Mainers, food insecurity is a year-round issue. In fact, recent data from the USDA shows that Maine has the highest food insecurity rate in New England, which means people in our communities just don’t have enough food.

Thanks to the kindness of our neighbors, we know we will meet this challenge of increased need. Remember, every $1 can help provide two meals! Thank you.

With gratitude,

Heather Paquette
Heather Paquette

Story 1: Making a Difference

Making a Difference

Wherever Jaliscea goes, she lives to serve: “I just love helping people.”

That’s why she joined the Army, following in the footsteps of many of her relatives. Now a sergeant, Jaliscea volunteers her free time at a veterans center.

She recently helped out at a food distribution for veterans, military members, and their families. They handed out produce, meat, and other groceries to hundreds of people — more than half of them veterans, but also many active-duty military families.

As many as 160,000 active-duty military members faced food insecurity last year, according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Jaliscea says a lot of them need help, but “they’re afraid to say it.”

But Jaliscea isn’t afraid to say it. She and her husband have a blended family that includes seven children ranging in age from 1 to 13. They also care for her father, so their limited income doesn’t stretch very far.

“I don’t make a lot,” she says. “After I pay my bills, I’m pretty much done.”

At times, she wonders, “How are we going to eat this week? Or how are we going to eat next week?”

Fortunately, the food distributions at her local pantry in the Feeding America network make a difference.

Jaliscea says the fresh produce and nonperishable food help keep everyone eating healthily. Her kids are especially excited about the fruit. “They love bananas, apples, oranges, strawberries. They love it all.”

There are many families like Jaliscea’s right here in Maine. Your support of Good Shepherd Food Bank helps put food on the table for veterans and military families.

“Coming here helps us a lot,” Jaliscea says. “Thank you.”

Because of you, veterans and military families are getting the help they deserve. Thank you!

Jaliscea’s story is representative of the people we serve in Maine.

Story 2: Filled With Gratitude

“Thank You, Thank You, Thank You”

Chelsea has always believed in helping others at every opportunity.

So when her sister needed a place for her and her two kids, Chelsea’s family welcomed them in.

Chelsea and her husband have four kids of their own and have managed just fine. But now that there are nine people under one roof, it’s taking a toll on the family budget.

“I can’t put into words how immensely this place helps with my grocery bill,” Chelsea says of the help she receives at Machias Food Pantry.

Chelsea’s family is just one of nearly 200 families who visit the pantry. Since the pandemic, the pantry has seen a continuous uptick in need, and it’s not letting up.

Pantry co-director Nancy Lewis (pictured above), a retired educator, says higher food prices have been a big contributor as well as the seasonal economy of the area. “Employment is tough in Washington County,” she says.

Machias Food Pantry recently moved to a choice model, allowing families to “shop” and choose the foods that best suit their needs. That means families like Chelsea’s can get the foods her family needs most. Your support helps ensure there’s plenty of healthy, culturally relevant food available when Chelsea visits the pantry.

“Our partnership with Good Shepherd Food Bank is amazing,” Nancy says. “We couldn’t do it without them.”

Thank you for caring about Maine neighbors — and for doing all you can to help build a future where all Mainers are food secure.

Story 2: Filled With Gratitude

A Family Affair

Phil started volunteering at Machias Food Pantry a few years ago and couldn’t stop talking about his experiences with his wife, Vicki.

“He loved it so much that I had to come see what it was about,” Vicki says. Now, a year and a half later, Vicki is a fixture at the pantry, too.

“I love it here,” Phil says. “The people here are doing a great service to the community. Now Vicki understands what I was feeling, and she’s hooked, too.”

The couple even got their 15-year-old grandson Phillip involved, too!

“In our family, we teach this is what life is all about — doing what you can to help others,” Vicki says. “It’s a blessing to be able to help.”

Phillip is grateful to share the experience with his grandparents. “I really enjoy it,” Phillip says. “I really enjoy helping people.”

Phillip says the community members they help are appreciative, and he wishes more people would come volunteer, too. “Places like this need more help — we could use more volunteers,” he says.

If you’d like to get involved, like Phillip and his grandparents, and help your community, visit to find a local partner. Together, we can create a hunger-free Maine!

Story 4: Filled With Gratitude

Cooking Up Love

Anwar loves cooking for his family of six and works to make sure they all have what they need.

When Anwar lost his job at the gas station where he worked, he pivoted to become a driver for Uber. But the work isn’t as reliable as his previous job. High gas and grocery prices make it harder to stretch his budget like he used to — especially with six people to feed.

Thankfully, a local partner of the Feeding America network held a food distribution at his children’s elementary school. Anwar went with his sons, 5-year-old Muhammad and 7-year-old Ibrahim. He was especially excited to learn that the pantry was distributing meat, which can be difficult to access on a limited budget.

Supporters like you, and volunteers, make these school pantries possible, and that helps neighbors like Anwar!

“Food is really expensive right now,” Anwar says. “All of this helps.”

The Food Bank partners with nearly 230 school pantry programs across Maine. Your support helps make programs like these possible.

Anwar’s story is representative of the people we serve in Maine.