BIDDEFORD — Good Shepherd Food Bank will soon relocate its Portland distribution center to Biddeford, allowing more convenient service to hunger relief agencies in southern Maine.

Good Shepherd Food Bank distributes food to pantries, meal sites, senior centers and youth programs.

The agency will close down its Portland distribution center and relocate to Biddeford at 10 Arctic Circle, close to Exit 32 on the Maine Turnpike, according to a statement from the agency. The Portland warehouse will close after its normal hours on June 27 and begin distribution at the new Biddeford location on July 2.

Hunger relief agencies in York County have had to drive up to 50 miles to get food from the nearest distribution center, which was in Portland, according to a statement from the food bank.

York County has the second highest number of households facing hunger in Maine after Cumberland County, and nearly 26,000 individuals in York County are not receiving enough nutritious food to live a healthy life, including 8,400 children, according to Good Shepherd.

Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank, said in the statement that the organization took “a careful look” at its operations across the state and the need in communities across Maine.

“Our goal is to provide the most nutritious food we can in an equitable way across all 16 counties. And equity is based on several factors ”“ we need to be equitable in the food we distribute based on the need, and we need to be equitable in the service we offer,” she said.

Clara McConnell Whitney, communications and advocacy manager for Good Shepherd Food Bank, said the food bank serves 60 agencies in York County.

“It’s going to make it easier,” said Bob Nichols, Saco Food Pantry operations officer. “I won’t have to pay tolls or gas money to go all the way to Portland. I just have to go across the bridge.”

Michael Gray, pastor of the Old Orchard Beach United Methodist Church, home of the Old Orchard Beach Food Pantry, said the move will impact all the local food pantries that rely on Good Shepherd. Not only will it mean less transportation costs, but it will also be easier to pick up a limited time offer when a special item is available at the food bank, he said.

“Just like in the for-profit world, costs go down and opportunities go up when the end of the supply chain is closer to the distribution source,” said Gray.

Portland-area agencies will have the option of going to distribution centers in Biddeford or Auburn, and can also order food online and pick it up at Wayside Food Programs in Portland. Good Shepherd will continue operations at its Brewer warehouse and is working to secure office space in Portland.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 325 or [email protected].

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