A worker packs food boxes at Good Shepherd Food Bank. Good Shepherd Food Bank photo

AUBURN — The people of Good Shepherd Food Bank are thrilled to say the least. 

Slated to receive a chunk of a $4 billion donation from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, Good Shepherd organizers say the funds will help them get more food to more people who desperately need it. 

How will they use the money? 

“We are quickly convening our board of directors, leadership team, and other stakeholders,” President Kristen Miale said, “and working hard to ensure that the philanthropy entrusted to us will help more Mainers access more nutritious food equitably and efficiently — now during the crisis of COVID-19, and for the long term.”  

It’s not clear exactly how much Good Shepherd will receive. The Food Bank expects to receive its gift early in 2021 and plans to share details at that time and how it will be invested across Maine’s charitable food network. 

“MacKenzie Scott’s investment in Maine is a vote of confidence in the work we are all doing together to end hunger in our great state,” Miale said. “From our more than 500 community partners and our food donors to all the individuals, businesses and foundations that support us with financial contributions at every level — we should all feel proud to receive this national and international recognition.” 

Scott announced the donations Tuesday via a blog post on Medium, with many of the recipients serving vulnerable populations that have been hit extra hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Good Shepherd, the announcement comes as Maine is in the midst of an unprecedented hunger crisis. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine had the 12th highest food insecurity rate in the nation with 180,000 Mainers relying on Good Shepherd Food Bank and its statewide network of partners. Today, that number approaches 215,000 people, at least 60,000 of whom are children, with households of color experiencing disproportionately higher rates of hunger. 

Based on data from Feeding America, the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., Good Shepherd Food Bank estimates there are around 13 million meals missing from the plates of Mainers this year, on top of the 27.2 million meals the Food Bank and its partners are providing. The organization aims to close this meal gap by 2025. 

Good Shepherd Food Bank recently published data demonstrating the impact of its network’s work in the past year. Despite significant food sourcing challenges during the height of the pandemic, the Food Bank distributed two million more meals year-over-year while increasing the amount of locally grown and produced food by 25%. To help bolster the statewide effort, the Food Bank granted more than $1 million to food pantries, meal sites, schools, and other partners across the state, including grants to organizations led by and serving communities of color for sourcing culturally relevant food. 

“The philanthropic investment from MacKenzie Scott will be an accelerator and amplifier as we work toward the goal of ending hunger in Maine, but the problem is bigger than what any one philanthropist can solve,” Miale said. “Ending hunger and its devastating effects in our great state is within our reach when we all come together and contribute to the solution. With this investment and the continued generosity of all Mainers, together we can end hunger.” 

For more information, visit feedingmaine.org. 

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