When Shaw’s corporate headquarters told their Brunswick and Bangor stores to stop donating near-expired food to local soup kitchens, locals wrote letters and emails and called the corporate headquarters.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree got involved, and the company reinstated donations over dumping. But many of us learned for the first time that every other store in Maine is prevented by that same corporate office from donating their near-expired foods.

According to Kimberly Gates, executive director of the nonprofit Bath Area Food Bank, she used to pick up hundreds of pounds of meat, dairy, vegetables, bread and canned goods from the Shaw’s in Bath every week – until two years ago, when the corporate office said no.

While we applaud the food-donation lifeline Shaw’s provides in Brunswick and Bangor, it’s not enough. If Shaw’s were to donate rather than dump in every Maine community, thousands of hungry families would be served.

Here in Bath, we have an elementary school where over 64 percent of students were eligible during the last school year for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program.

In the Regional School Unit 1 area as a whole, the percentage of qualifying students is not much better. Close to 50 percent of our students live in food-insecure families. Food insecurity follows these children home every day after school.

All Shaw’s stores should be authorized by corporate President Jim Rice to re-establish giving. Dumping clogs our landfills, and donating feeds people in need.

What’s the problem, Shaw’s? Don’t dump, donate! The Bath Area Food Bank, and other groups throughout the state of Maine, are waiting for the food that Shaw’s could so easily contribute at no cost.

While our food banks are waiting, children are hungry, and we should not be silent.

Julie Meyer

West Bath