Food Insecurity in Maine

We have officially launched the 2016 Justice for Women Lecture Series at Maine Law with a very successful informational gathering on Tuesday, January 19th.

About 75 people braved the very cold weather to learn about the harsh reality of food insecurity in Maine. Many were astonished to learn that 25% of children in Maine and a total of more than 208,000 people in our state are food insecure.* In addition to children, single mothers and seniors bear most of the stress that comes with hunger and poverty.

Our speakers Senator Justin Alfond, Good Shepherd Food Bank (GSFB) President, Kristen Miale and Georgetown University Law Center 3L student Stephanie Littlehale shared their knowledge, ideas for change, challenges and experiences.

The effect was electric. The energy in the room was palpable and many of you asked, "What can I do? How can I help?"

Here are some immediate steps everyone can take to help reduce food insecurity in Maine:

  • DONATE FOOD OR TIME: At GSFB or your local hunger relief organization. Here are guidelines for what food gifts are best suited to food distribution networks in your area.
  • ADVOCATE: There is legislation in the works: LD 1472 To Enhance the Administration of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) by Creating Clear Guidelines for Organizations and Streamlining the Application Process. Sign up to be on the GSFB advocacy list; Call or write your local legislator to convey your concerns with food insecurity in Maine; Watch for additional legislation impacting food insecurity, hunger, healthcare, childcare and poverty.
  • READ AND SHARE: This recent feature story in the Maine Sunday Telegram covers critical details about persistent hunger in Maine. Share it with your friends.
  • UNDERSTAND THE IMPACTS: Food insecurity has a stunning effect on the community as a whole as covered by MPBN in this series on the link between childhood poverty and obesity.
  • SUPPORT: Attend JFW at Maine Law on March 24th featuring Dr. Lindiwe Sibanda and bring a friend. Please consider a gift to help week this program free and accessible to all. Give now!

* Source: 2014 USDA Food Insecurity Report

Good Shepherd Food Bank Kristen Miale responds to a guest's question. With JFW Founder Cathy Lee, Sen. Justin Alfond and Stephanie Littlehale.

Good Shepherd Food Bank Kristen Miale responds to a guest's question. With JFW Founder Cathy Lee, Sen. Justin Alfond and Stephanie Littlehale.

Our work is to advocate and help improve our broken food system. Mainers Feeding Mainers – recognizing that the ultimate solution to hunger is a strong economy that provides good jobs.
— Kristen Miale
Childhood hunger and poverty are hard issues for people and communities to openly talk about. The are many reasons, but a few big ones for me are:
• Mainers are fiercely independent and don’t want help.
• The real stigma around being a student who gets free or reduced meals
• People in need are often portrayed as a cheat or a taker.
— Sen. Justin Alfond
I’ve talked a lot tonight about the guilt; the shame; and the fear that I felt growing up. But I don’t want to forget how I felt in those moments that I was able to find food. First and foremost, I felt lucky that there were so many people out there who wanted to help me. The volunteers at the soup kitchen were my heroes.
— Stephanie Littlehale

JFW Week 2016

Standing before an enthusiastic crowd of more than 600 people in Portland on March 24, JFW speaker Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda of Zimbabwe used words of wisdom from her father as the opening line to the fifth annual Justice for Women Lecture.

“Every breath you take should be an opportunity to learn, and an opportunity to teach,” she said.

The phrase was the perfect summary of her weeklong trip to Maine. Dr. Sibanda, a global leader in the sustainable farming movement and the fight to end hunger and food insecurity, visited Maine from March 21-25 as the lecturer for the Justice for Women Lecture Series, hosted by the University of Maine School of Law.

An acclaimedscientist, farmer, and activist, Dr. Sibanda spoke to diverse audiences throughout the week, including students from several Maine high schools, colleges, and postgraduate institutions. She spoke about poverty, malnutrition, climate change, and strategies to combat the root causes of food insecurity. On the flip side, Dr. Sibanda spent much of her week learning from local farmers, food bank staff members, policymakers and others about approaches to those same problems in Maine. She said she looked forward to sharing those lessons upon her return to Africa.

Dr. Sibanda has been CEO and head of mission of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) since 2004. In that role, she coordinates policy research and advocacy programs across 17 countries in Africa, focused on food security, climate change, and advances in agriculture.

“We have so much more in common than I thought,” Dr. Sibanda said. “I’ve learned a lot and I’ve been touched by the community.”

Among the highlights of Dr. Sibanda’s visit to Maine:

●      She visited with students at Deering High School in Portland, and received a key to the city from Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling.

●      She visited Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, and St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston, for tours and discussions about food insecurity and agriculture. She also joined the Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn as it launched the state’s first Community Food Charter.

●      She spoke to Bates College students, faculty, and members of the community, on the importance of nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life.

●      She delivered the fifth annual Justice for Women Lecture, presented by Maine Law at the Abromson Community Education Center in Portland, to a sold-out crowd.

She participated in a policy discussion about agriculture, economic development, and food insecurity. The event was held at Pierce Atwood in Portland and moderated by Dean Danielle Conway of Maine Law. Participants included U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and many others including local farmers.



Kick-Off Event Speakers

Kristen Miale - President of the Good Shepherd Food Bank

Kristen Miale - President of the Good Shepherd Food Bank

Sen. Justin Alfond

Sen. Justin Alfond

Stephanie Littlehale - Georgetown University Law School 3L Student

Stephanie Littlehale - Georgetown University Law School 3L Student