Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine’s largest hunger-relief organization, is embarking on an unprecedented $250 million campaign to end hunger in Maine by 2025. The organization’s leaders say the campaign goal is as extraordinary as the problem itself. Before the pandemic, the Food Bank estimated that 175,000 Mainers were at risk for hunger, and now that number could climb upwards of 215,000 — or 16 percent of the population — including 60,000 children.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a microscope on the devastating impacts of hunger, the resiliency of our 500 partners across the state, and on the willingness of Mainers to reach out and help their neighbors,” said Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank. “With a renewed public awareness about the prevalence of hunger, now is the time to build a movement and end hunger in our great state. The pandemic will someday fade away, but its impacts on hunger won’t unless we take action now.”
Through its Campaign to End Hunger in Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank endeavors to raise $100 million in cash and pledges and $150 million in donated food before the end of 2025, creating an overall fundraising goal of $250 million. The organization has raised $115 million in food and funds to date. Hannaford Supermarkets is the lead donor for the campaign, projecting it will contribute $120 million in donated food and financial donations through 2025.
“In the 40 years since Hannaford Supermarkets helped found the Food Bank, we’ve never seen a need like there is today,” said Mike Vail, president of Hannaford Supermarkets. “As an employer with stores throughout Maine, we have seen firsthand the negative impact hunger has on individuals and our state. From education and workforce development to health care and families’ ability to make ends meet, hunger affects every major challenge Maine faces. Let’s not let another generation pass us by. Let’s end hunger now.”
Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has also offered a national endorsement of the Food Bank’s work with a gift of $25 million. In addition, more than 43,000 donors have made gifts of all sizes since the Food Bank began the advance and quiet phase of the campaign. Supporters have repeatedly responded to the organization’s calls for help with unprecedented generosity.
“No one philanthropist or entity can solve hunger alone,” said Miale. “Thousands of Mainers have been helping us fight hunger for years, and this campaign’s success will be built on donations of all sizes from individuals, corporations, and foundations who believe in a better future for Maine.”
The goal of the Campaign to End Hunger is to ensure that every Mainer has access to enough nutritious food, when and where they need it, by 2025, and the primary measure for meeting that goal is meal distribution. Based on data from Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., Good Shepherd Food Bank estimates that 40 million meals are missing from the plates of Mainers this year. In partnership with more than 500 community organizations in its network, the Food Bank has grown its distribution from 10 million meals in 2010 to 27.2 million meals during its last fiscal year. This leaves a gap of nearly 13 million meals, which the Food Bank will work to close through its campaign by sourcing and distributing more meals. But food alone will not end hunger.
“I have no doubt we’ll be able to source and distribute enough meals to close the meal gap—already we’re on track to grow our distribution to 32.5 million meals in 2021,” Miale says. “My bigger concern is how we support our network of partners through this growth, and what we can do as a state to reduce the demand on our network, now and in the future.”
In addition to providing more meals, the Campaign to End Hunger in Maine will invest immediately and ongoing in the capacity of existing community partners through direct grants. Campaign priorities also include developing new partnerships and innovative models for community food access and advocating for public policy that improves food access for families, seniors, children, and all individuals. Across all of its strategies, the Food Bank will focus on equity for communities of color, which are disproportionately affected by hunger, and inclusion of community members who have lived experience with hunger.
“Hunger is part of a much larger systemic problem and is intertwined with the complex issue of poverty,” Miale explained. “And we are confident that when every neighbor has access to the nutritious and culturally relevant food they need, we will stabilize the lives of Mainers facing hunger, reduce the costly impacts of hunger in our state, and make Maine a stronger, more resilient place to work and live.”
For more information about the Campaign to End Hunger in Maine, visit feedingmaine.com/campaign.