The end of expanded food assistance benefits, coupled with rising food costs, has created an enormous challenge for Mainers trying to put food on the table. As schools let out for the summer, this is particularly concerning for children and families who will lose access to school meals until the fall.
To help meet those needs, the John T. Gorman Foundation has granted over $500,000 to 14 organizations that are working to address food insecurity throughout the state. These grants are in addition to the $1.5 million in grants to address basic needs, such as food security, through the Foundation’s Direct Service Grant Program.
“Maine people have been hit hard this year with high food costs and reduced support, as demonstrated by rising demand at food pantries across the state,” said Nicole Witherbee, president and CEO of the John T. Gorman Foundation. “This is especially concerning for children, who need nutritious food for their healthy development – they face a long summer ahead without the meals they would get in school. These grants will ensure that Maine people, particularly children and families, are able to access quality food at an especially vulnerable time.”
The funding will support partners in three key ways: raising awareness about the location and availability of summer meal programs across the state while piloting innovative ways to increase engagement at these sites; strengthening the efforts of Maine’s largest food bank to reach children and families; and offering targeted support to organizations in the five Maine counties with the highest rates of child food insecurity.
The grants have been awarded as follows:
Full Plates Full Potential: A $105,000 grant will support the piloting of innovative efforts at three summer meal sites to increase participation in the food assistance program. The grant will also pay for a statewide radio Public Service Announcement promoting hotlunchsummer.com, a website where Mainers can find their nearest summer meal site.
Good Shepherd Food Bank: A $150,000 grant will support the Youth and Family Initiatives program, which expands access to nutritious food for Maine children and families experiencing food insecurity, with a focus on meeting the nutritional needs of children during the time they are most likely to experience hunger: after school, weekends, school vacations, and during the summer.
Food pantries in Aroostook, Oxford, Piscataquis, Somerset, and Washington Counties. A total of $250,000 of funding will go to support food pantries in five Maine counties with the highest rates of food insecurity. In each of these counties, the rates of child food insecurity exceed 20%, and are the highest rates in New England.
Aroostook: $35,000 will go to Catholic Charities, $15,000 will go to Fish River Rural Health
Oxford: $15,000 will go to Bethel Area District Exchange & Food Pantry, $10,000 for River Valley Health Communities Coalition, $25,000 for the Food Pantry at Stephens Memorial Hospital
Piscataquis: $40,000 for Piscataquis Regional Food Center, $10,000 for Heart of Maine Resource Center
Somerset: $10,000 for Common Unity Place, $30,000 for Somerset Career & Technical Center (which has a food pantry that serves students), $10,000 for People Who Care Food Cupboard
Washington: $25,000 for Machias Area Food Pantry, $25,000 for Maine Seacoast Mission
“We’re excited to partner with the John T. Gorman Foundation to spread the word about Summer Meals to families and children across the state,” says Justin Strasburger, Executive Director of Full Plates Full Potential. “Without the meals provided during the school day, many Maine kids experience an increase in food insecurity during the summer months. Building awareness of summer meals is an important step to ensuring access to this critical resource.”
“We are grateful for the generous grant received from the John T. Gorman Foundation, which bolsters our Youth and Family Initiatives program and helps strengthen and expand food access across Maine,” stated Georgia Jenkins, Corporate and Foundation Relations Officer for Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine. “This support will make a difference in communities throughout the state. Working together with the Foundation and our dedicated network of partners, we can achieve our vision of a hunger-free Maine, where every individual has equitable access to nourishing culturally-relevant food and the opportunity to thrive.”
This is the second round of funding this month that the John T. Gorman has made to address food insecurity. The John T. Gorman Foundation recently made 29 grants totaling $488,500 to address food insecurity to organizations throughout the state, as part of its annual Direct Service Grant Program, which provides funding to non-profit organizations that address the immediate basic needs of people in Maine who are experiencing the adverse effects of poverty. Roughly a third of this year’s DSGP grants were dedicated to addressing food insecurity.
The John T. Gorman Foundation is an independent foundation based in Portland, Maine, with a mission of advancing ideas and opportunities that can improve the lives of people in Maine. To achieve the greatest impact, the Foundation has a special interest in strengthening children and families and helping communities provide them with the supports and opportunities they need to thrive. This focus on strengthening children and families reflects the recognition of our founder Tom Gorman that his personal success and achievement were largely derived from the support provided to him by his family and community, as well as his desire to help those with fewer advantages opportunities to succeed.
More information is available at http://www.jtgfoundation.org.