Shaw’s announced Thursday that it is reviving Fresh Rescue, a food donation program it will run in conjunction with Feeding America, and will resume its work with food banks in Maine and Massachusetts before expanding the program to locations in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont.

“We remain committed to battling hunger so that no child or family goes without a meal,” Shaw’s President Paul Gossett said in a statement.

In 2013, Shaw’s told Maine food banks and pantries it was stopping its food donation program, but phased the program out gradually. The company, which is part of the Albertsons Companies, didn’t say at the time why it was stopping the program, and said it would continue to partner with food pantries on food drives and other initiatives.

The company, which has 154 stores throughout New England and employs about 19,000 people, said it had used the time to evaluate its past food donation program, and forge a partnership with Feeding America.

“There is a real need in the communities we serve so we wanted to create a more formal approach to our food-donation program,” Shaw’s spokeswoman Teresa A. Edington said in an email Thursday night.

Shaw’s will work with the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn, the state’s largest food bank, on the first phase of the program rollout in Maine.

Good Shepherd expects donations to resume this month.

Good Shepherd President Kristen Miale said the resumption would “have tremendous positive impact on food pantries across Maine.”

The pantry’s food supplies suffered a big blow when Shaw’s stopped donating food, especially meat. Shaw’s had been its biggest meat donor, providing more than 400,000 pounds a year. Good Shepherd relies on donations to keep its shelves stocked with food. It then sells food to other food pantries at a heavily discounted rate.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat representing Maine’s 1st District, praised Shaw’s for resuming the program. Pingree, who last year introduced the Food Recovery Act to reduce food waste, had urged Shaw’s not to stop donating food last year.

“I’m thrilled to hear that Shaw’s is resuming their donation program,” Pingree said Thursday. “The loss of direct food donations hit some pantries hard. When we pointed that out to Shaw’s they reacted quickly and did the right thing.”

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or at:

[email protected]