U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree has invited Heather Paquette, the president of Good Shepherd Food Bank, to be her guest for President Biden’s State of the Union address Thursday evening.

In a statement from her office, Pingree called Paquette an “ideal guest” given her work to improve food insecurity in Maine at a time of soaring grocery prices.

Heather Paquette, Good Shepherd Food Bank president

Pingree, D-1st District, said she expects Biden to use part of his speech to criticize “shrinkflation” – a term given to the phenomenon of grocery items shrinking in size while staying the same price – and also to fight back against Republican efforts to cut federal food assistance programs for low-income households.

“Anyone who has been in a grocery store lately has seen how big food companies are squeezing consumers by shrinking the size of their products while keeping their prices high,” Pingree said. “I applaud President Biden’s efforts to combat ‘shrinkflation’ greed because hunger spikes when meals aren’t affordable, and food banks like Good Shepherd Food Bank have to lend additional support… I am grateful Heather will be alongside me to hear from President Biden about his continued work to curb hunger nationwide.”

Paquette was hired last year to lead Good Shepherd, the state’s largest hunger-relief organization. The food bank works with 600 partner organizations across Maine, supplying food to schools, senior care programs, health centers and other food banks. Prior to that appointment, Paquette worked as an executive for Ahold Delhaize, the parent company of Maine-based grocery store chain Hannaford.

“As President of Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine, I am honored to join Congresswoman Chellie Pingree as her guest at the 2024 State of the Union address,” she said in a statement. “In Maine, where more than 144,290 neighbors, including 1 in 7 children, are faced with food insecurity, the issue of hunger is not just a statistic, it’s a daily reality for far too many families.

“With every increase in the cost of living, we see a corresponding rise in the demand on the charitable food network. These programs are lifelines for many Mainers, providing essential support to vulnerable populations, including children, older Mainers, and individuals who may not know where their next meal is coming from.”

Biden’s State of the Union address will be delivered live at 9 p.m. Thursday.

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