The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MHPP) recently opened an additional facility at Brunswick Landing. Before addressing the rationale for that expansion, consider some numbers:

– Maine ranks 1st in New England in terms of childhood food insecurity.

– Twenty percent of Maine kids, or 50,000 children, are food insecure.

– Before the pandemic, 12.3 percent of Mainers were food insecure. At the height of the pandemic, that number jumped to 14.7 percent. Thanks to Maine’s resilient food pantries and other agencies, as well as generous support from individuals and businesses, it is anticipated that Maine’s hunger rate will level off at 13.5 percent this year.

Solving Major problems requires bold vision and concrete plans. Happily, the Maine legislature has tackled the issue with the bipartisan passage of a program entitled “Ending Hunger in Maine by 2020.”

The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention has played a major role in combatting food insecurity in Mid Coast Maine. Let’s consider some more numbers:

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– In 2021, MCHP provided 2021 meals through its various programs: food bank, mobile pantries, summer food service program, food pantry, satellite pantries, direct-to-door deliveries, soup kitchen and school pantries. Those meals required 1.3 million pounds of food.

– Almost all of the food provided by MCHP is free to the organization, thanks to the generosity of grocery stores (e.g. Hannaford, Shaw’s, Target, Walmart and Trader Joe’s), etc.), the Good Shepherd Food Bank and other nonprofit organizations, such as Growing to Give.

– MCHP relies upon 550 different volunteers to fulfill its essential mission. Generous donations from businesses and individuals as well as grants fund the organization.

Karen Parker, MCHP’s superb Executive Director, says, “The decision to add another facility has been in the works for a few years, but the pandemic accelerated the time line.” Parker notes that the new 12,000-square foot facility will provide more storage space for food as well as loading docks for transportation. “We will have more volunteer opportunities in the food bank and in the second kitchen space. It will also enable some automation of movement of pallets of food to reduce some of the very physical work of staff and volunteers.”

In addition, the new space will provide the opportunity to cook foods, especially during the summer bounties, which will enable the distribution of healthy food in the winter months, ultimately resulting in less food waste.

Parker, who’s been at MCHP for 11 years, loves her job. She notes that the biggest challenge is being able to respond to needs whenever they arise. “I learn something every day and it’s so rewarding to serve the community and make a difference.”

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2023. Here’s a shout-out to all the volunteers, food suppliers and donors who have supported this extraordinary organization over the last four decades. (For more information, go to www.mchpp.org.)

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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