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Chellie Pingree Urges Congress To Fund Federal Food Programs

Kevin Bennett
For Maine Public
Intake Volunteer Debbie Loguercio bags bread along with other food items to be handed out to people in need at the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard in May.

Some federal food programs have already run out of money, and others will run out at the end of the year. Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine’s 1st District says continuation of those programs is a top priority.

One program that already is out of funding is the Farmers to Families Food Box program, which purchased fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, meat and cheese from farmers and had it packaged for distribution. Pingree says Congress must act to fund nutrition programs.

“On top of all the other challenges people are facing, there may not be enough food to put on the table. So, this is a huge challenge,” she says. “Forty percent of the people coming to food pantries today are making a first visit, they haven’t gone there before. It’s a growing problem and we hear about it from all the food pantries, so it is a serious concern.”

Pingree says the most important program is the enhanced food stamp benefit that has cost about $2 billion a month.

The compromise pandemic relief package being negotiated allocates $26 billion for nutrition programs, but it’s not clear which ones will be funded.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.