Good Shepherd Food Bank and its network of 450+ agency partners—including food pantries and meal sites—have been classified as an essential service. As the largest hunger-relief organization in Maine, the Food Bank will remain operational throughout the duration of Governor Mills’ Stay Healthy at Home Mandate.
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. You can also ask our agency partners in your community what their critical needs are right now. 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.
An Update about Good Shepherd Food Bank’s Response to COVID-19
Good Shepherd Food Bank (GSFB) is the largest hunger-relief organization in Maine. We are channeling all of its efforts to be a resource for the state of Maine, including expanding hours of operations and reallocating internal resources for planning, preparation, and response. We are committed to working with national, state, and local partners to deliver critical services that ensure that Mainers have access to food.
We are actively working to develop and implement a plan for emergency food distribution in partnership with Feeding America; Maine Centers for Disease Control (CDC); Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and county-level emergency management agencies; Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF); Maine Department of Education (DOE); and Maine’s Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).
On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, Governor Janet Mills issued a series of substantial new mandates to protect public health and safety. These measures take effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 2, 2020, and the order will last at least until April 30, 2020.
One mandate, called the Stay Healthy at Home directive, requires people living in Maine to stay at home at all times unless for an essential job or an essential personal reason, such as obtaining food, medicine, health care, or other necessary purposes. Details can be found here.
An essential job definition can be found in Governor Mills’ March 24 Executive Order.
Good Shepherd Food Bank has reached out to Governor Mills’ office and received confirmation that the emergency food system is considered an essential service. However, this designation of essential does not obligate any pantry or meal program to stay open if it cannot comply with the distancing protocols outlined by the Governor in her Stay Healthy at Home mandate.
Summary of Key Challenges of COVID-19
We are planning and assessing:
Like you, our Food Bank and our partners have never faced a challenge quite like this. Below are the key steps we are currently taking to assess the situation and make a plan of action:
We are taking action
We are shifting our distribution model. Our Food Bank is ready to meet evolving needs head-on, shifting our food sourcing and distribution to keep as much nutritious food flowing as possible statewide while reducing the burden on community food pantries and meal sites. To this end, we announced on March 24 that L.L.Bean and its employees are helping us to pack approximately 10,000 emergency food boxes per week at its fulfillment center.
We are now working on a plan to distribute those boxes through community and regional drop sites. These drop sites will likely be a combination of existing food pantry partners and new locations. We are working closely with county-level emergency management agencies, school districts, and other state and local partners to determine where these sites could be established. Emergency food boxes will be distributed through no- or low-contact grab-and-go (or drive-up) methods for the safety of all.
We are securing more food to fill the emergency food boxes. Food donations from retailers generally account for 70% of the food we distribute—we are expecting that number to fall to zero during this time when retailers are struggling to keep up with the demand caused by hoarding activities. On March 21 we placed orders of shelf-stable food totaling $600,000, as well as crops from Maine farmers—such as potatoes and apples. We are also working with the Department of Agriculture to capitalize on increased flexibility in federal food.
We are identifying communities in need. We are tracking food pantries that are temporarily suspending their services or changing their distribution schedule to identify communities that have a gap in food access. In collaboration with the Maine Department of Education, we are identifying school districts that are unable to provide meals during school closures. We will work to ensure that these communities receive extra food to feed vulnerable families.
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.
Your donations are needed to help:
Our neighbors need us now—please donate to our COVID-19 response today.
Our agency and program partners are the backbones of Maine’s hunger-relief system. We all must be operational and ready to act, especially when our state may be facing extra challenges. Please scroll down for updates from our partner agencies.
What You Can Do Now
Having an emergency response plan is, and always has been, important – for bad weather, an unforeseen power outage, a disaster at your site (fire, flood), or any event that impacts your community or agency. While you have time now, consider how you would be able to continue to provide assistance to your community in an emergency.
Please be in touch with any questions or concerns, especially if you think you will need to change your distribution times or style. Your Community Resources Representative is available to provide resources.
Our distribution centers are open, and we’re taking precautions above and beyond those recommended by the CDC to be sure that we’re providing a safe working environment. The Food Bank could use your help now more than ever as we prepare for an increase in demand. If you experience symptoms of the virus or have been in contact with an individual who experiences symptoms of this virus, we ask that you refrain from volunteering for a period of 14 days.
Please visit our volunteer page or contact Beth Tatro, volunteer manager, (207) 782-3554 ext. 1169 or email@example.com.
If you need food assistance, visit Food Pantry Closing and Changes.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Maine-specific Coronavirus Webpage
Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC)
Maine Schools Providing Meals to Students During Closures
Maine Council on Aging’s Volunteer Guidance on Safe Deliveries
New Mainers List of Community Resources
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has developed interim guidelines to help answer owner and employee questions about essential agriculture, horticulture, and animal care operations
Maine Equal Justice is providing regular updates and resources to help people understand what government programs they may be eligible for and how to apply: https://maineequaljustice.org/people/covid-19-resources
In Maine? Call 211 for up-to-date information.
Director of Facilities and Safety: Sam Michaud, firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-576-2023
Fundraising Contact: Erin Fogg, email@example.com or 207-240-3029
Partner Agencies: Kathy Helming, VP of Community Partnerships, firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-782-3554 ext. 1119
Media: Jessica Donahue, marketing and communications manager, email@example.com or 207-991-7630