COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Maine

Good Shepherd Food Bank and its network of 500+ agency partners—including food pantries and meal sites—continue to operate to meet increased need during the pandemic.

If you can help, we encourage you to make a gift to support our ongoing COVID-19 response.

If you need help, visit the “Find Food” section of our website to find a local resource, and be sure to check our continually updated list of food pantry updates and closures.

#MainersHelpingMainers makes all the difference.

An Update about Good Shepherd Food Bank’s Response to COVID-19

When our neighbors are struggling, Good Shepherd Food Bank is there—every day of the year—and we’ve been here for nearly 40 years. But, like you, we’ve never seen times quite like these.

Hunger across Maine is climbing due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study, which uses the most recent data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Census Bureau, food insecurity levels in Maine could increase by as much as 40 percent in 2020, depending on the sustained growth in rates of unemployment and poverty.

The needs and challenges of this pandemic are staggering and we continue to serve the state of Maine, as we always have, thanks to the support of generous donors. With support from more than 13,000 generous Mainers, we’ve responded to the pandemic in the following ways:

  • We distributed 11.6 million meals between March and June 2020 to our more than 500 partners across the state—including food pantries, shelters, meal sites, schools, and health care centers. We purchased $3.7 million worth of food during this period to meet the increased need at a time when donations from retail stores were down due to back-ups in the supply chain. All of this food was distributed at no cost to our partners.
  • A large portion of the food we distributed was packed into more than 45,000 emergency food boxes. During the height of the pandemic, L.L. Bean offered to help package emergency food boxes at its facility in Freeport with healthy shelf-stable food and local Maine produce. With L.L.Bean’s help, we were able to provide boxes to food pantries across the state. This shift in distribution model helped food pantries continue their services in low-touch models that didn’t require as many volunteers.
  • Recognizing that our traditional purchased food didn’t meet the needs of all Mainers, we granted $150,000 to 18 organizations doing incredible work to ensure Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities throughout the state could access culturally relevant food.
  • In addition, we re-granted about $1 million of donor support directly to our partner agencies to help reduce the strain on their operations. Our partners used the funds to source more food, buy cleaning supplies and protective gear, and purchase equipment to support safer distribution.
  • Our Youth and Families Initiatives programs helped 19,300 families in the last school year, compared to 7,000 the year before. With our support, schools continued to provide food to families throughout the pandemic—many even grew their programs to help meet the increased needs.
  • Cooking Matters, our nutrition education program, shifted to a virtual model. These hands-on cooking and nutrition classes offer people at-risk of hunger tools to create healthy meals and stretch their food budget.

How you can help:

We encourage Mainers to check on their neighbors and vulnerable community members to ensure they have a plan for accessing food, medicine, and other supplies. Should Mainers need help securing food, visit the “Find Food” section of our website to find a local resource.

We are also seeking increased and flexible funding to meet the needs of all Mainers who are struggling—children, seniors, families, and individuals who are most at-risk. Our response will serve all communities and will be coordinated with local partners and resources with the greatest level of efficiency possible.

Funds donated to support our COVID-19 response will be used for immediate needs and will help the Food Bank and its hunger-relief partners provide essential support in the months to come as we all recover from the economic impacts of this crisis. Our estimated COVID-related direct expenses through June are exceeding $6 million.

Your donations are needed to help:

  • Purchase food and distribute it at no cost to ensure supply in a time when food donations are lagging demand. The majority of pantries have moved to distributing our pre-packed food boxes, meant to help families stretch their food budget for one month. With food costs of $38 per box, this food represents the bulk of the Food Bank’s unanticipated expenses.
  • Hire temporary staff to work in our warehouses and support our essential employees with hazard pay.
  • Support our food pantries and other hunger-relief partners with grants to help them cover their emergency operating expenses.

Our neighbors need us now—please donate to our COVID-19 response today.