1 in 7 Mainers is food insecure; 1 in 5 Children in Maine don’t have enough to eat
Biddeford, Maine—September 28, 2020—In an unprecedented time of need, the newly formed Biddeford and Mechanics Savings Charitable Foundation is pledging funds to assist food insecure and homeless children and adults in Maine. The Foundation has approved a three-year commitment of $8000 for a total of $24,000 to the Lewiston Schools Homeless Youth program. Additionally, the Foundation approved $5000 to support the Good Shepherd Food Bank this year.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 13.6 % of Maine households are food insecure, a rate that exceeds the national average of 11.7%. Food insecurity occurs alongside homelessness in Lewiston where an estimated 3.6% of the total population of children in Lewiston public schools are considered homeless. Of the 199 homeless youth in grades PreK-12, 111 students were enrolled in PreK-6th grade, 19 were enrolled in Lewiston Middle School and 69 students were enrolled in Lewiston High School.
“It is difficult to believe the enormity of the hunger and homelessness issues in southern Maine,” said Jeanne Hulit, CEO and President of Maine Community Bank, the parent company of the Foundation. “This is something happening right in the communities we serve and is something we cannot turn a blind eye to. Through our newly formed Foundation, we are finding specific ways to help.”
The Foundation’s total commitment of $24,000 over three years to the Lewiston Schools Homeless Youth program will go directly to the purchase of a new van. The van will be used to reach more children in crisis, more families who need help getting food and supplies, and getting to medical appointments, plus assisting in finding housing.
The Foundation is also supporting the Good Shepherd Food Bank which distributes millions of pounds of food to food pantries, meal sites, shelters, senior centers, and schools in all of Maine’s 16 counties. With distribution centers in Auburn and Hampden, Good Shepherd provides nourishing food to a growing number of Mainers who are food insecure. Good Shepherd is working to find long-term solutions to hunger by engaging in advocacy, research, and strategic initiatives to create a hunger-free Maine.
“What Good Shepherd does have been amplified during the COVID-19 crisis,” explained Wayne Sherman, Chair of the Foundation. “The Biddeford and Mechanics Savings Foundation is focused on supporting families and individuals who have been adversely impacted by the pandemic, by lay-offs and the downturned economy. Many people are struggling. We see that, understand that and are doing something about it.”
The Biddeford and Mechanics Savings Charitable Foundation was created in July and is structured to give back to the communities in a larger, more enduring way. The Foundation’s mission is to help individuals and families in the bank’s local communities meet their basic needs and achieve financial empowerment.