As Maine students go back to school, many will do so malnourished. Tens of thousands of our state’s children face hunger — yes, even in 2023.

“One in six children in Maine is food insecure. Whereas the child food insecurity rate is about 10% in Cumberland County, historically more-impoverished counties like Piscataquis and Somerset experience child food insecurity rates of 20% or more,” Jim Lemieux writes. Silvia Moraleja/Shutterstock

In Maine, more than 144,000 people are facing hunger — about 10% of the state population. Even worse, nearly 37,000 of them are children. One in six children is food insecure. Whereas the child food insecurity rate is about 10% in Cumberland County, historically more-impoverished counties like Piscataquis and Somerset experience child food insecurity rates of 20% or more.

Many children are desperate to find food at school, with 43% of students relying on school meals every day. Maine’s hunger problem is serious, and it’s up to us to solve it. But how, you may ask?

Of course, money matters. People facing hunger in Maine are estimated to need nearly $100 million more per year to meet their food needs. From businesses large and small to local nonprofits and statewide charities, fundraising to end hunger will make a significant difference in the lives of children and other Mainers.

In addition to fundraising, the organizations dedicated to fighting hunger need to spend their money wisely and in a targeted way, making sure that programs are directly benefiting those in most need. Fortunately, many Mainers are fighting the good fight, so it is important to identify and reward them. Full Plates Full Potential and Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine are organizations that come to mind, working around the clock to ensure that Mainers in need have access to healthy, nutritious meals. They deserve our financial support.

But even more than money, the mission to end hunger in Maine will depend on community. It is the sense of pride and purpose within local communities — especially in states as close-knit as Maine — that allows people to come together, look out for their neighbors and truly make their backyard a better place. As the head of a credit union, I know we’re not in business without community, and the same logic applies to the eradication of hunger. We are nothing without each other, even if that just means recognizing how serious the problem of food insecurity is for some around us.


Whether you work in the private or public sector, there is an opportunity to make a difference. While state policymakers pursue meaningful reforms in Augusta, credit unions across Maine are participating in the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger. Since 1990, the campaign has contributed over $12.3 million to end hunger in our state. Last year alone, our alliance of credit unions — which has always been community-focused — chipped in more than $1 million, with Sebasticook Valley Federal Credit Union raising tens of thousands of dollars on its own. For the greater good, we are trying to do our part to close the funding gap and support kids in towns like Newport and Pittsfield.

Again, support isn’t just about raising money; program efficiency is a crucial component of charity. That’s why 100% of all funds raised through the campaign actually support organizations that are fighting food insecurity. The problem is too serious to waste money. Too much is at stake, with too many people relying on campaigns like ours to survive and thrive.

As countless Maine children go back to school hungry, I only ask that you think of them and do your part. We can end childhood hunger and other forms of food insecurity in our state, but only if we come together as purposeful people who take pride in community. Only through community can we solve a problem that has persisted for far too long, just like community has empowered credit unions like ours to serve thousands of Mainers in different parts of the state. As Mainers, the spirit of community must lie at the heart of any collective action, especially one as important as ending hunger.

The good news is this: There is enough healthy, nutritious food to nourish every child in Maine. Food insecurity is becoming rarer by the year, and that shows the power of the Campaign for Ending Hunger. Programs like ours are grateful to the members who support us, and we have achieved plenty throughout the state already. When it comes to childhood hunger, there isn’t only bad news — there is also much to celebrate, especially the coming together of community for a common goal.

We fully expect to see continued progress. By encouraging further action and even broader community involvement, we will sustain our financial support to those in need — not just in the months ahead, but also for years to come. Supporting the Campaign for Ending Hunger and similar programs really does help make a difference.

With the return of another school year, Maine’s fight to end hunger goes on. And we will win it together.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.