Food Bank’s Farm-to-Pantry Effort Brings Fresh, Local Foods to Mainers Facing Hunger
Auburn, ME – Mainers Feeding Mainers, Good Shepherd Food Bank’s farm partnership program, has provided more than 1.5 million pounds of locally-sourced products for Mainers struggling with hunger since its launch in 2010.
Now, in the 2012 season, 10 local farms are participating in the program’s farm-to-pantry model, providing Maine-grown foods directly to 60 food pantries and soup kitchens across the state. Ten additional farms provide local foods to Good Shepherd Food Bank’s three distribution centers in Auburn, Portland, and Brewer.
The farm-to-pantry model has proven successful in creating local relationships between residents and farmers, while also reducing transportation costs.
“We strongly believe in the mission of the Good Shepherd and enjoy growing for the Mainers Feeding Mainers program, serving both the food pantries and soup kitchen,” says Richard Harrison of True North Farm in Montville. “We particularly enjoy the relationship we have with the Belfast Soup Kitchen staff and the direct contact we have with the guests there.”
The goal of Mainers Feeding Mainers is to acquire fresh, nutritious foods from Maine farmers for distribution to people facing hunger. The Food Bank’s 20 farm partners include Fields of Green, Friends of Aroostook, Jordan Farm, Tibbetts Family Farm, Cozy Harbor Seafood, Nova Seafood, and Pineland Farms.
Good Shepherd Food Bank purchases the locally-grown products, including potatoes, squash, tomatoes, carrots, strawberries, apples, and blueberries, in addition to high-protein fish, cheese, and meat. Many farms also donate surplus products to support the hunger relief effort. The Food Bank then provides the items to its partner agencies free of charge.
“We think it is important to raise awareness about the healthy benefits of local, seasonal food. Eating fresh produce packs the most nutrients into your diet. And the benefits are not only to our clients but to the local economy and locals farmers as well. It is a great help to receive fresh, local produce from Mainers Feeding Mainers,” says Abigail Perry, Executive Director of the Augusta Food Bank, a Good Shepherd Food Bank partner agency.
The Food Bank expects to distribute 700,000 pounds of local foods through the Mainers Feeding Mainers program in 2012. “While traditional Food Bank donations like canned vegetables are not as plentiful as they once were, we are trying to find ways to provide nutritious food so all Mainers can live healthy lives,” says Nancy Perry, director of Mainers Feeding Mainers at Good Shepherd Food Bank.
The Food-Bank’s Food Mobile, a mobile food pantry that travels to underserved regions of the state with emergency food assistance, has also been on the road throughout the summer, delivering local foods from Maine farms to people facing hunger across the state.
Mainers Feeding Mainers is made possible by the John T. Gorman Foundation, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, John Merck Fund, Sam L. Cohen Foundation, Sandy River Foundation, New Balance Foundation, the Betterment Fund, and other sponsors.
For statistics on poverty and hunger, photos, or interview requests, please contact Clara McConnell at (207) 761-0542 x2107 or email@example.com.
About Good Shepherd Food-Bank
The largest hunger relief organization in Maine, Good Shepherd Food-Bank provides for those at risk of hunger by acquiring surplus and purchased food and distributing that food to more than 600 partner agencies across Maine. Since 1981, the Food-Bank has partnered with individuals, businesses, and farmers to alleviate hunger and build community relationships. In 2011 the Food-Bank distributed 13 million pounds of food to families in need. Phone: (207) 782-3554; Website: www.gsfb.org; Facebook: www.facebook.com/feedingmaine; Twitter: www.twitter.com/feedingmaine.