As a lawmaker, I work hard to ensure that Mainers of all ages can live healthy, secure lives. I prioritize education, a clean environment, affordable health care, and safe housing. But our most basic need is food. We are in the midst of the harvest season, and despite the drought, Maine farms have once again produced healthy, delicious food that nourishes Mainers’ bodies and souls. In the next few months we will celebrate Thanksgiving and express gratitude for the food we eat.

Anne Carney

But we will also be working to make sure members of our community and people across Maine have the food they need throughout the winter.

Food insecurity is a significant issue in Maine.

According to Feeding America, nearly 140,000 Mainers were food insecure – 27,000 living right here in Cumberland County – in 2020. My colleagues and I in the Legislature have been focused on feeding Mainers and ending hunger in our state, and I’d like to share some of our accomplishments with you.

Our greatest accomplishment involves feeding school children. In 2021, the Legislature made universal free school meals a reality for all Maine children. Maine was one of the first states to take this step, and we have continued to lead by funding our state program despite the end of federal support. No Maine student should have to learn, grow and play on an empty stomach. Teachers have come to appreciate how essential school meals are to learning, and free universal school meals helps all families impacted by inflation.

Last year, thanks to the insight, hard work and determination of my colleague Sen. Craig Hickman, himself an organic farmer, Maine voters passed the nation’s first right to food amendment. This legislation amends our state Constitution to affirm Mainers’ right to “grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.”


This year we took a giant step toward coordinating programs throughout the state to implement a strategic plan that ends hunger in Maine. We passed “An Act To Implement Maine’s Roadmap to End Hunger by 2030.” This legislation creates an advisory committee and staff that direct and implement state-wide efforts to make sure Mainers have enough nutritious food to eat and to address the structural inequalities that lead to household food insecurity, because food insecurity is directly related to poverty rather than lack of food.

With Maine children and students returning to school these last few weeks, we can all have peace of mind that they will eat healthy, nutritious meals during the day. Even though all students now get free meals, I want to remind parents and guardians that it is still important to complete the School Meal Benefit Form.

Filling out this form provides household income data that is used to determine state and federal funding for our community and our schools. The funding supports educational, nutrition and enrichment programs. And the form determines your child’s eligibility for the Pandemic EBT Program, which ensures that children and students get their free school meals even when they miss school from a COVID-related absence or closure. The form is quick and private, and you can access it online at If you school does not use the online form, then you can contact the nutrition director.

I know food insecurity affects Mainers of all ages. If you need help feeding yourself or your family, please check out Good Shepherd Food Bank’s online food map at Once there, you can find food sites, such as South Portland Food Cupboard and Judy’s Pantry in Cape Elizabeth.

For people over the age of 60, I encourage you to look into the Maine Senior FarmShare. FarmShare is a program that provides $50 worth of local produce from a Maine farm. For help determining your eligibility or enrolling in the program, please call 207-287-3491. The Southern Maine Agency on Aging can also help. To speak with someone there, please call 207-396-6500.

No one should be going hungry in Maine. If you need help, please contact my office. I’d be happy to connect you with a food resource in our community.

Anne Carney represents Maine Senate District 29, which consists of Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and part of Scarborough. She can be reached at 207-287-1515 or

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