During this fall season, farmers are harvesting their crops and families are adjusting to their kids being back in school. But, things look very different from last fall. Many farmers are experiencing heavy droughts and feeling the effects of a slowdown in business. Families with kids are getting used to the new normal of virtual school days, and some parents are wondering how they are going to afford to get food on the table during this pandemic.

So many of us are experiencing hardship and heartbreak this year, but there are many ways to get support for those who need it. I’d like to talk specifically about two timely issues: farmer relief and food resources.

State Sen. Susan Deschambault Courtesy photo

I know farmers in Dayton, Lyman and other places in York County are experiencing drought, in addition to dealing with the new challenges that the pandemic brings. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recently named York County as one of 14 counties in Maine that is eligible for disaster relief for farmers. This will be beneficial to farmers who need financial assistance right now to continue the operation of their farms or cover essential living expenses.

Farmers have eight months to apply for emergency loans. For more information, go to www.farmers.gov/cfap or contact York County’s USDA Service Center at 207-883-0158, ext. 2. Farmers who have been directly affected by the pandemic can also apply to the food assistance program. For more information, you can look at the farmers.gov website or visit www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Maine/index. Finally, the York County Farmers’ Network is an excellent resource that provides a large list of resources for farmers regarding financial relief and more, including educational opportunities. You can access this list at www.ycfn.org/useful-ag-links/.

In addition to farmers facing hardship right now, many people need help with providing food for their families because of economic hardship. It is great news then that all Maine school children are eligible for free school meals throughout this entire school year. Even if you are homeschooling your child this year or have kids learning virtually part of the week, parents and guardians can pick up food for their kids.

Each school district has a different application process, so check the links below. Remember, everyone is eligible.


In terms of other types of food assistance, our community is going above and beyond to make sure all those who need access to food right now can get it.

The Biddeford Food Pantry is open to Biddeford residents, and you can find them at 162 Elm St. Their number is 207-282-4771, and you can learn more about them at www.biddefordfoodpantry.org/.

York County Shelter Programs also provides a food pantry. They are located on 5 Swetts Bridge Road in Alfred. You can contact them at 207-324-1137, or visit www.yorkcountyshelterprograms.com/.

Community Outreach Services serves the Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport communities. They deliver food to different sites and have a voucher program as well to help people buy groceries. Please give them a call at 207-604-0445 or visit www.coskennebunks.org/our-programs/food-programs/.

There are many other ways to make sure you and your loved ones are getting the food they need. The Good Shepherd Food Bank has a search feature on its website where you can find what other food pantries are available in your area. It’s such a useful tool. Visit www.gsfb.org/get-help/.

Access to food for families and financial assistance for farmers, who are such a great part of York County, are available for the folks who need it. Of course, if you are able, please consider donating to these food pantries and support our farmers by buying local produce. If you have any questions or issues with accessing these services, please reach out to me at [email protected] or call 207-287-1515. I’m here for you and want to help in any way I can.

Susan Deschambault represents Senate District 32, Alfred, Arundel, Biddeford, Dayton, Kennebunkport and Lyman.

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