(Portland) – On Thursday, October 13, the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger announced its largest-ever commitment to fight childhood hunger in Maine, pledging a three-year $100,000 contribution to expand the school backpack and school pantry programs in Maine. The announcement included the Campaign’s first contribution of $34,000 to Good Shepherd Food Bank’s childhood hunger programs. Recently, Maine’s credit unions completed a three-year, $75,000 contribution to childhood hunger, so this new contribution and commitment is both a continuation and expansion of this effort.
In announcing the milestone commitment at Ocean Avenue Elementary School in Portland, the site of the state’s first backpack program back in 2010, John Murphy, President of the Maine Credit Union League, said in making this new, substantial commitment to fight childhood hunger “we believe that we have an opportunity to make a significant impact in helping feed Maine children. The School Backpack and School Pantry programs have proven to be very successful in helping provide food to children and families who otherwise may not have had access to food. Working with the Good Shepherd Food Bank to expand the Backpack and School Pantry programs to more schools, as well as reinforce existing programs, allows Maine’s credit unions to make a statewide impact on childhood hunger in Maine. The problem of childhood hunger in our state is extreme. With one in four Maine children being food insecure, Maine ranks first in New England in terms of child food insecurity, so the need is significant and a commitment of this size can make a difference.”
Kristen Miale, President of Good Shepherd Food Bank, called the new commitment and contribution “meaningful at a time when we have seen success in the schools that have a Backpack and/or School Pantry program, but we understand we need to serve more schools and children. The commitment of Maine’s credit unions to both childhood hunger in Maine and hunger, as a whole, in our state is incredible. Maine’s credit unions are a great partner and champion in ending hunger in Maine. We are so grateful for the generosity of Maine’s credit unions in announcing this new commitment and are excited at what it will mean to our efforts to expand the Backpack and School pantry programs in Maine.”
Good Shepherd Food Bank’s BackPack Program provides children who are suffering the effects of chronic hunger with nutritious, easy-to-prepare food to eat during weekends and school vacations when those crucial school meals are unavailable. Additionally, the Food Bank has School Pantry sites in 50 schools. The School Pantry program gives school staff the opportunity to provide children in danger of hunger with nutritious food to take home to their families.
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Since the first BackPack program first launched at Ocean Avenue Elementary School in 2010, the Food Bank has grown its child hunger programs from serving 40 children weekly at one site to serving over 5,000 families through BackPack programs and School Pantries at 117 schools.
Last year, both programs provided more than 600,000 meals to Maine children who were struggling with hunger. The Maine CUs’ Campaign for Ending Hunger initial commitment has had a significant role in the ability of the Food Bank to expand these programs exponentially.
Since 1990, the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger has raised $6.5 million to help end hunger in Maine including a record-setting $623,000 raised in 2015. All contributions to the Campaign are tax-deductible.
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