AUBURN, Maine – Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine’s largest hunger-relief organization, and L.L.Bean, one of the state’s largest companies, have partnered to accelerate food access for Mainers struggling with hunger during the current and unprecedented health crisis.
“COVID-19 is unlike any emergency situation we’ve seen before,” stated Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank. “The Food Bank is channeling all of its efforts to be a resource for the state of Maine, including expanding hours of operations and reallocating internal resources for planning, preparation, and response.”
Good Shepherd Food Bank is in the process of changing its food distribution model in response to the health crisis.
“On a normal day, our 250 partner food pantries would order food from us by the pallet load,” says Miale. “Pantries would then allow community members to come in and pick out the food they need. The health risks presented by COVID-19 means that model no longer works—there is too much contact and exposure for community members and food pantry volunteers.”
Food pantries across the state have moved to packing food boxes that can be distributed by scheduled appointments or through drive-up service. Good Shepherd Food Bank is responding by pre-packing those boxes for distribution at the pantries—the goal is to pack 10,000 boxes per week.
“The charitable food network in Maine is incredibly vulnerable and relies heavily on volunteers who are 65 or older—we need to do everything we can to make their jobs safer and easier right now,” said Miale. “We are so grateful that L.L.Bean has volunteered to help us during this time.”
“L.L.Bean is actively working with Good Shepherd Food Bank to repurpose our facilities to pack food boxes for Mainers who are in need,” said Steve Smith, president and CEO of L.L.Bean. “As a direct-to-consumer company, our fulfillment team is highly skilled at picking, packing and distributing shipments of all kinds. We want to use our resources to the best of our ability to serve our community during this unprecedented time.”
Smith added, “In addition to the facilities and mechanisms already in place, we have a talented and caring team ready to band together with Good Shepherd Food Bank to support our fellow Mainers and the wellbeing of our communities.”
“The Food Bank has a staff of roughly 80 employees, but not all employees can continue in their full capacity due to childcare, health conditions, and other factors,” Miale said. “In addition, we’ve had to sideline thousands of our regular volunteers due to CDC recommendations. This partnership with L.L.Bean comes at a critical time and truly shows how committed they are to supporting their home state and its people. Having the ability to utilize an existing workforce to pack shelf-stable food boxes lifts a tremendous weight off the Food Bank.”
The partners estimate production to begin Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The food boxes will be filled with shelf-stable, healthy food that has been purchased by Good Shepherd Food Bank and will be provided at no cost to its partner agencies.
For more information on how you can help, please visit www.FeedingMaine.org.