Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty speaks at a news conference in the State House, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, in Augusta, Maine. Liberty has agreed to purchase excess food from restaurants in counties where dine-in service is not permitted. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

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After delaying the opening of dine-in service at restaurants in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties earlier this week, Gov. Janet Mills is telling eateries they can sell their excess food to prisons to mitigate their lost revenue.

Mills said Saturday that Maine Department of Corrections commissioner Randall Liberty has agreed to purchase excess food from restaurants in those three counties.

Restaurants in those counties that purchased food prior to the governor’s Wednesday announcement that delayed reopenings may contact the MDOC about selling perishable and non-perishable food, other than dairy. Restaurants would first need to register as a vendor with the state. The purchase price for the food would be equivalent to the price paid for the same items through the MDOC’s food contract. The food will be served to both staff and inmates.

“I hope this move will provide some measure of relief to businesses in these counties as we work to protect public health, keep Maine people healthy and alive, and mitigate the spread of this deadly virus so we can safely reopen,” said Mills.

While restaurants in Androscoggin, Cumberland and York counties may still offer outside dining, dine-in service will continue to be suspended indefinitely. Dine-in service in 12 other Maine counties restarted on May 18, and will begin again in Penobscot County on Monday.

Inquiries may be directed to MDOC associate commissioner Karen Yeaton at by Friday with information on the type and quantity of food available, and its dollar value.

Watch: Testing at Maine correctional centers

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.