AUBURN – Building on its longstanding history of local food purchasing from Maine farmers and expertise in understanding local food systems, and after years of research, Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine will be launching Harvesting Good, an innovative wholly owned subsidiary, for-profit public benefit corporation, this fall.
“The Food Bank first dabbled in local food more than a decade ago when it created Mainers Feeding Mainers, a local food purchasing program that pays Maine farmers to grow fresh crops to distribute throughout the charitable food network,” stated Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine. “The program quickly grew with the Food Bank investing nearly $1 million in more than 80 Maine farms that grew 2.2 million pounds of food just last year alone.”
While the impact of the program has been profound for farmers and Mainers experiencing hunger alike, its reach is restricted by Maine’s short growing season, which limits farmers’ opportunities and availability of products to all consumers, as well as the lack of appropriately scaled vegetable processing facilities that could extend the shelf-life of locally grown produce. These factors currently limit opportunities for farmers to scale their businesses beyond the fresh market and limit local product availability to all consumers.
“Identifying an opportunity to fill the void of mid-market vegetable processing in the Northeast and to capitalize on the agriculture potential in Maine and northern New England, Harvesting Good is a revolutionary business model that aligns food banks, regional farmers and processors, local retailers, and consumers to ensure local, nutritious vegetables are available to feed our neighbors the whole year through. To further its mission, 100% of the profit will benefit food banks in the Northeast,” said Matt Chin, president of Harvesting Good.
Good Shepherd Food Bank has invested the capital necessary to launch Harvesting Good through its $250 million Campaign to End Hunger in Maine. The mission of Harvesting Good directly aligns with the campaign’s priorities of increasing access to healthy, nourishing food for all Mainers while investing in the agricultural economy to support local businesses and create jobs that reduce food insecurity at its root cause. Specifically, a portion of the $25 million gift made by MacKenzie Scott to the Campaign to End Hunger has been activated to launch the business, including purchasing and installing the equipment needed to process frozen vegetables.
The company is entirely Maine based and will launch frozen broccoli florets as its first product in late 2022. Circle B Farms in Caribou is growing Harvesting Good broccoli, which will be flash-frozen by W.R. Allen in Orland and packaged by Jasper Wyman & Son in Cherryfield. Ultimately, the product will be sold to retailers and wholesalers throughout the Northeast, and, eventually, Harvesting Good will become a source of frozen produce for Good Shepherd Food Bank that can be distributed throughout the charitable food network in Maine.
For more information, www.HarvestingGood.com.
As the largest hunger-relief organization in Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank supports Mainers facing hunger by sourcing nutritious food and distributing it to nearly 600 partner organizations across the state, including food pantries, meal sites, schools, health care centers, and senior programs. The Food Bank also supports its partners with capacity-building and innovation grants that improve and promote equitable and dignified access to nutritious food across the state. In 2021, the Food Bank distributed more than 31.6 million meals through its network of partners, and strategically invested $4.4 million in grants to its network of partners. The Food Bank leads a statewide effort to combat the root causes of hunger by engaging in advocacy, nutrition education, and strategic partnerships and is currently leading a $250 million Campaign to End Hunger in Maine.