The Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine recently partnered with Somerset Public Health and community leaders throughout the county to identify and propose solutions to ending hunger in their communities.

The food bank’s Community-Driven Strategies to End Hunger Initiative works with local communities to identify and invest in solutions to the area’s unique food access challenges.

“We appreciate that the food bank recognized the need to hear from, and work with, local stakeholders who know best the challenges that contribute to hunger in our communities, as well as the unique assets that will help solve it,” said Kristie LeBlanc, assistant director for Somerset Public Health, according to a news release from the Auburn-based food bank.

As part of the third cohort of the food bank’s Community-Driven Strategies program, Somerset Public Health and community leaders selected the following ending hunger strategies to invest in:
• Common Unity Place — website;
• Common Unity Place will help sustain and strengthen the ability to continue to provide free nutritious meals from September 2022 through May 2023;
• Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets — website;
• To increase the number of households participating in and regularly using the Maine Harvest Bucks program at the Skowhegan Farmers’ Market, the Kennebec Valley Farm Store, and an additional farm stand in rural Somerset County;
• SEARCH (Seek Elderly Alone, Renew Courage & Hope) — website;
• To increase outreach to the community, enroll more seniors, and recruit and train more volunteers to support the seniors in need;
• Skowhegan Backpack Program — website; and
• To expand the school pantry and backpack program by turning a school outbuilding into a food-safe storage facility to store monthly deliveries and pack weekly bags.

“The food bank’s Community-Driven Strategies work focuses on engaging regional stakeholders in a deeper way than ever before,” stated Vice President of Community Partnerships Shannon Coffin. “We lean into their expertise and knowledge of their community’s unique assets to develop strategies to close the meal gap in their local areas.”

Each year, Good Shepherd Food Bank focuses on two to three of the 27 regions of Maine. These regions are largely based on the former Healthy Maine Partnerships’ territories. Local experts then come together with the food bank to identify solutions to the area’s unique food access challenges.

Previous cohorts included the locations of Lewiston, Portland Suburbs, Northern Penobscot, Washington County, Lincoln County, Northern Kennebec County, and Somerset County. The food bank has started work in Piscataquis County and the Biddeford area but has not yet completed the projects.

For more information, visit feedingmaine.org.

 

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