The Harold Alfond Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to the Good Shepherd Food Bank to support its work during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The impacts of COVID-19 in Maine have created a perfect storm for our food bank and our community hunger-relief partners,” said Good Shepherd Food Bank President Kristen Miale. “Our food supply is down, our operational processes have been upended by social distancing, and the need is growing as more Mainers are facing unemployment and other challenges. Weighing all of these factors, we estimate our expenses related to the COVID-19 response will exceed $6 million over a six-month period.”

Good Shepherd distributes 25 million meals per year, and 70 percent of that food is donated by retailers. Miale said retail donations are down as consumers are stocking up on supplies and not dining out, so the food bank is actively purchasing shelf-stable food from wholesalers and crops from Maine farmers.

The food bank has purchased more than $2 million of food in the first month of its coronavirus response. That amount is nearly double what Good Shepherd normally spends on shelf-stable food in an entire year.

“The grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation comes at a perfect time, and we are so grateful for the Foundation’s foresight and generosity,” Miale said. “One hundred percent of this funding will be deployed across the state in the form of food and funds for our partner hunger-relief agencies.”

Good Shepherd conducted a recent survey of its partner food pantries, and the responses indicated that 90 percent are seeing an increase in people seeking help.

“We all know that access to healthy food is critical for good health, learning, and growing, and that many Mainers are struggling to put food on the table at this unprecedented time,” said Greg Powell, chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation, which is named for the late Waterville philanthropist. “The innovation and teamwork at Good Shepherd Food Bank and across the charitable food network in Maine is as inspiring as it is in need of support. So, the Foundation is honored to help provide that support.”

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