AUBURN – While the nation as a whole has continued to make progress against hunger, a new report released this week from the US Department of Agriculture found that Maine is moving in the wrong direction. Maine’s rate of food insecurity grew between 2015 and 2016, based on the new data.
“While this new data is disheartening, it’s not surprising,” said Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank. “Over the past several years we’ve seen people struggle to make ends meet while policies that restrict access to programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have been put into place. The result is that more Mainers are going hungry.”
In Maine, 16.4 percent of households are food insecure compared to 12.3 percent nationally. Last year in Maine, the food insecurity rate was 15.8 percent. Maine has dropped from 9th worst in the country to 7th worst, dropping two spots in the national ranking. Food insecurity in Maine is 25 percent worse than the national average and is worse now than it was during the height of the Great Recession.
According to USDA, being food insecure means that a person or family does not have reliable access to a sufficient amount of affordable, nutritious food.
“We see the impact of public policies every day as families line up for food boxes at our pantry and for hot meals at our soup kitchens,” said Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street, a social service agency based in Portland. “We can’t meet the growing need. Our state must do more to improve access to nutritious food for low-income Mainers. The fact that hunger is getting worse in the state is shameful.”
USDA measures food insecurity across the United States annually. More information about this research can be found on the USDA Economic Research Service website.
About Good Shepherd Food Bank
As the largest hunger relief organization in Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank provides for Mainers facing hunger by distributing nutritious food to more than 400 partner agencies across the state, including food pantries, meal sites, schools, and senior programs. Together with its network, the Food Bank leads a statewide effort to combat the root causes of hunger by engaging in advocacy, nutrition education, and strategic partnerships. In 2016, the Food Bank distributed 21 million meals to families, children, and seniors in need throughout Maine. Website: www.feedingmaine.org; Phone: (207) 782-3554; Facebook: www.facebook.com/feedingmaine; Twitter: www.twitter.com/feedingmaine.