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Good Shepherd Food Bank has raised nearly two-thirds of its campaign donation goal

Caitlin Troutman
Maine Public file
Volunteers at Good Shepherd Food Bank assemble boxes of food for food insecure seniors in Maine in Nov. 2019.

The Good Shepherd Food Bank says it has provided nearly 32 million meals to hungry Mainers during the pandemic, but that there's still a need equal to 8 million more.

The food bank's Campaign to End Hunger is working to raise $250 million in monetary and food donations by 2025 to address that need and the systemic barriers that cause Mainers to go hungry in the first place.

"Our biggest challenge is countering the public narrative that people who are hungry are hungry as a result of their individual circumstances," says Kristen Miale, Good Shepherd's president. "That they didn't work hard enough or made bad choices. That simply isn't true."

She says since January, the food bank has raised nearly two-thirds of the goal set for the Campaign to End Hunger.

Miale says government programs such as SNAP and the Child Tax Credit that put money in the pockets of low-income people have alleviated the spike in hungry Mainers during the pandemic. But she says there are still populations that need help in accessing those benefits — people of color and immigrants who don't speak English or feel comfortable working with the government.

"Many of them come through an experience that they don't trust going to government for help. We've partnered with Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center to do SNAP outreach face to face. They'll meet with members of their own communities," she says. "
It will be a trusted face."

Miale says this fall, SNAP benefits increased by 27%, and the Child Tax Credit was extended through next year.