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Earth Day, Every Day

Earth Day, Every Day

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd each year, it’s a time to raise awareness and promote environmental protection and sustainability. Earth Day 2024 is the 54th anniversary of this global event, which was first celebrated in 1970. The Food Bank is taking action every day to reduce food waste, think big and green to mitigate the detrimental effects of climate change.

Climate change directly impacts poverty and hunger as it adds to preexisting struggles that individuals currently face. Food waste also contributes to environmental issues, such as greenhouse gas emissions and wasted resources like water and energy. When we waste food, we’re not only throwing away the food itself, but also the resources that went into growing, harvesting, and transporting it.

Our Green Initiatives program substitutes our typical energy systems with efficient green technology systems to decrease our carbon footprint. By growing and producing food with alternative methods that don’t harm the environment. Our main priority is to be good stewards of our resources.

We’re also exploring alternative methods of growing and producing food that doesn’t harm the environment. This includes initiatives such as sustainable farming practices, composting, and reducing food waste by rescuing surplus food that might otherwise go to a landfill. Donated and purchased food from farmers, retailers, and other sources that might not meet certain standards, such as being the wrong size or shape. The food is still good to eat and helps provide nutritious meals for Mainers experiencing food insecurity.

By adopting these environmentally-friendly methods, we aim to provide nutritious food to those in need, minimize our carbon footprint, and contribute to a healthier planet. We are committed to finding innovative ways to minimize waste, reduce energy consumption, and utilize sustainable practices in all aspects of our operations. This includes investing in energy-efficient equipment, utilizing renewable energy sources, and continuously evaluating and improving  processes to minimize environmental impact.

How can you help?

You can make a difference in reducing food waste and by lending a hand to help end hunger! Here are some simple ways you can help:

  1. Reduce Food Waste: Pay attention to the food you have at home and try to use it all up before it goes bad. Don’t throw away food just because it doesn’t look perfect – it’s still good to eat! You can also talk to your family about composting leftover food scraps to help reduce waste.
  2. Donate to to your local food pantry: If you have surplus food at home, consider donating it to your local food pantry. You can also organize food drives at school or in your community to collect food for those in need. Go here to find your nearest food pantry. 
  3. Volunteer: Many food pantries, including many of our partners, rely on volunteers to help sort and distribute food. You can contact your local food pantry and see if there are volunteer opportunities available for you to help out.
  4. Raise Awareness: Share what you’ve learned about food waste and hunger with your friends and family. Share how you’re making an impact on Earth day and every day on social media using #FeedingMaine, #EarthDay, or #InvestInOurPlanet. 
  5. Practice Sustainable Eating: Be mindful of the food you eat and where it comes from. Eating with sustainability in mind is a way to nourish ourselves during every phase of life and protect the environment. Find sustainable tips and simple, nutritious and easy recipes by visiting our nutrition website,

Frequently asked questions about our Green Initiatives Program

Where does non-edible food at the Food Bank go?

Agri-Cycle Waste Recycling

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.

Compost and 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.

  • Plastic is baled or recycled. The Food Bank has a plastic baler in our distribution centers.
  • Wood pallets, including wood boards, are recycled. A pallet vendor purchases excess and damaged pallets from us.
    Cardboard is baled and recycled.
  • All packaging is sent to Agri-Cycle to be recycled.

How is the Food Bank operating to reduce energy?

LED Lighting

  • All of our distribution centers operate under LED lighting. Rooms are equipped with occupancy sensors that will turn off lights when a room or warehouse aisle is not occupied. All exterior lighting is LED and utilizes dusk to dawn sensors.

HVAC Controls

  • The Food Bank utilizes schedules and designed our HVAC systems to be more efficient in cooling and heating our spaces. These schedules allow us to reduce cooling and heating during non-work hours. Controls allow us to monitor for malfunctions and deviations in temperatures. We can monitor this remotely and can oftentimes identify a problem prior to placing a service call.

Refrigeration Controls

  • Each distribution center uses variable speed compressors as refrigeration control. Using these saves 30% of energy vs. a typical fixed-speed compressor. We also utilize our controls to have different temperatures for our food storage areas in the distribution centers.

Why did the Food Bank install solar panels?

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.

Supplying clean and efficient energy to our facilities to reducing C02 emissions with solar panels and tubes. 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.

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.

Curious to learn more about Good Shepherd Food Bank’s sustainability practices? Visit our Green Initiatives page.