The York County Commissioners have launched a joint venture with a broad coalition of nonprofits to replace assistance to food-insecure families lost when York County Food Rescue abruptly shut down last month.

“There is a real need in this community for this partnership,” Sallie Chandler, chairwoman of the commissioners, said in a news release Friday.

The group, Partners for a Hunger-Free York County, will occupy the same county-owned space as the former Food Rescue and support a wide array of food-related programs for county residents. “Far too many people in York County are facing hunger and malnutrition,” said Kristine Jenkins, the director of Partners for a Hunger-Free York County.

“Our focus as a coalition is to bring resources and people together to improve nutrition security for everyone,” she added “We are grateful for this chance to work with the county commissioners to create greater access to healthy food – especially good food produced by York County’s farmers.”

The venture will start in early June. Its primary goal is to provide increased access to fresh, healthy foods for people in York County. Food Rescue distributed 1 million pounds of food a year to more than 45 food pantries and meal programs in the county. It suddenly closed last month, citing a loss of a contract to distribute surplus food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the move of a major donor, a Shaw’s supermarket frozen food operation in Wells.

The loss of Food Rescue deeply concerned small community and church food pantries that depended on its services to fill their cupboards.

Friday’s news release didn’t offer many details about how the new program will be organized and it is unclear if it will be a direct replacement for Food Rescue.

Partners for a Hunger-Free York County was founded in 2011 and its members include Partners for Healthier Communities, United Way of York County, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, York Community Services Association, York County Community Action, the Donald H. Gean Center for Human Services, farmers, gardeners and nutrition educators.

“This is a wonderful and exciting opportunity to serve the people of York County,” said Bob Dawber, CEO of the Donald H. Gean Center. “I firmly believe that this partnership shows a commitment by the county commissioners and the county manager to combating hunger here in York County.”

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