Food Bank Staffer Named Food Sourcing Leader of the Year
Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger relief charity, has named Good Shepherd Food Bank staffer Nancy Perry the Food Sourcing Leader of the Year for the Eastern Region.
Nancy is the Food Bank’s Food Sourcing Manager and the Director of Mainers Feeding Mainers, our farm partnership program.
In 2010, we created Mainers Feeding Mainers, a local food purchasing initiative designed to increase the amount of local, fresh, and healthy products available to our partner agencies. Not fully knowing what we were getting into, we knew we needed someone to own this new initiative. Nancy was asked to lead the program and jumped right in. Her willingness to listen to farmers and make the project work for them was key – she engaged the farmers from the start and treated them as partners.
We were warned that paying for food from farmers would reduce donations; thanks to Nancy, just the opposite happened. She formed such strong, trusting relationships with our farm partners that they think of us whenever they have surplus crops. Last year, we purchased almost 500,000 pounds of local produce from our farm partners and they responded by donating the same amount.
For many years, it was assumed that food banks were priced out of the local foods market. Our job was to access as much food as possible at the lowest imaginable price – so you might think that locally grown products would be off limits. But Nancy has spent the past several years demonstrating that supporting local agriculture and improving food access for Mainers in need can be parallel goals.
Thanks to Nancy’s hard work with Mainers Feeding Mainers, in addition to her management of our overall Food Sourcing operations and her guidance in implementing the Food Bank’s Nutrition Policy, the perception of our organization is shifting. We are no longer thought of as the last stop for food before it’s thrown out. We are now at the table with sustainable agriculture groups, farmers, and food industry leaders in discussions about building a stronger food system in Maine.
Great job Nancy, this award is very well deserved!