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Hunger in Maine

People have asked me, "If elected governor, what would be the first three issues you would address?"

If elected, the first three priorities would be to ensure all Mainers have enough to eat, access to affordable health care, and a good-paying job.


While food insecurity nationwide is on a downward trend, Maine’s hunger problem is growing. In 2015, 12.7% of U.S. households experienced food insecurity, down from 14.6% in 2008. Yet the percentage of hungry families in Maine is at 16.4%--and growing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A report released in September finds that Maine ranks 3rd in the nation for extreme food insecurity, having experienced a 27% increase in food insecurity over the past decade. According to a report released earlier this year by Good Shepherd Food Bank and Preble Street, 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 4 children in Maine lack reliable access to affordable nutritious food.

Food insecurity refers to USDA’s measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food-insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all the time. Food insecurity may reflect a household’s need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate foods.

The hunger crisis in Maine and beyond isn’t the result from a lack of resources. The U.S. wastes 133 billion pounds of food, 31% of the nation’s annual food production. Additionally, under the guise of fiscal responsibility, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and former Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew--now a candidate for governor--imposed massive cuts to assistance programs for the poor, reducing participation in SNAP (the federal “food stamp” program) by 20% and reducing the number of Temporary Aid to Needy Families recipients from 20,700 families in 1996 to just 6,500 in 2015. But as assistance dropped, poverty rose. The number of families in deep poverty in Maine increased from 7,500 to 10,100 during that same time period--a rate 8 times higher than the national average. The subsequent strain on emergency food banks and shelters in the state has led to stepped-up fundraising and food drive efforts.


If elected, I would take three approaches as start to alleviating hunger in Maine.  There is no good reason for Mainers to go hungry.

  1. Work with the established network of the Good Shepherd Food Bank. 

    The Food Bank also relies on the generosity of over 200 food donors, including supermarkets, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, and others. Individuals and organizations also donate food through Food Drives.

    With the help of hundreds of volunteers, Good Shepherd Food Bank provides food to more than 178,000 Mainers each year. Volunteers help in many ways, including inspecting, sorting and packing food at our Auburn warehouse

    Good Shepherd Food Bank serves all 16 counties in Maine, from Kittery to Fort Kent.  They serve more than 400 nonprofit partner agencies operating on the front lines of hunger relief in our state.

 There are many ways for private citizens and businesses to help.                   

For every dollar you give, Good Shepherd Food Bank can distribute 4 meals to hungry people in Maine.

     2.  I will submit a bill to alleviate the budget shortfall in cooperation with the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Organic Farmers Organizations, and federal funding.





    3.  I will submit another bill for the building to facilitate the building of public and private  greenhouses to grow and reduce the cost organic food and to facilitate the growth of dying population of bees which threatens our state and nation's ability to keep agriculture sustainable.  In addition to providing state incentives for private entrepreneurs to build greenhouses, the state could use unused acreage at the Riverview hospital site to build them to reduce the cost of institutional foods while providing opportunities for therapy and vocational training.

Committee to Elect Patrick "Ike" Eisenhart
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