This time of year always reminds me how many people are chronically hungry in Maine. This Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to reunite with my family with food on the table. But not all Mainers have this privilege. Feeding America estimates that 144,290 people in Maine are facing hunger. That means that 1 in 10 adults and 1 in 7 children are food insecure. In February 2023, 174,344 individuals were receiving SNAP benefits in Maine, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That is a large number of families and children who are struggling to access such an essential part of life.

Henry Ingwersen

That’s why I’m sponsoring a bill in this coming year that directly addresses the problem of food insecurity. The bill would ensure that the Maine Harvest Bucks Nutrition Incentive Program continues to help low-income Mainers have access to locally sourced food. Nutrition incentive programs are a win-win-win for Mainers: a win for sustainable farms, a win for a strong local economy, and a win for healthy Maine families.

Through the Harvest Bucks program, participants can use their SNAP/EBT benefits at their local farmer’s market to buy healthy, local food. Harvest Bucks increases the purchasing power of SNAP/EBT benefits. For instance, if someone spends $10 in SNAP/EBT at a participating farmers market, they would receive an additional $5 Harvest Bucks that they can also spend at the local market.

The incentive directly helps Mainers facing food insecurity. My bill would help keep this program alive by providing much-needed ongoing funding. It’s important to know that for every dollar we provide for these nutrition incentive programs, we leverage $3 from the federal government, with a matching USDA grant dollar and $2 in SNAP coming into Maine.

Not only is this legislation important to help low-income Mainers, but it is also critical to helping our Maine farms remain viable. As Mainers, we pride ourselves on our extensive access to locally-sourced food, and it is rare to find a Mainer who is more than a stone’s throw away from fresh ingredients. However, this access is not a guarantee. The Harvest Bucks program helps ensure that we continue to have access to Maine-grown food by increasing the number of Mainers who can purchase it.

In the meantime, I would like to share some resources for those who are seeking assistance. If you would like to benefit from Maine Harvest Bucks, all you have to do is bring your SNAP/EBT card with you to the information booth of a participating Maine farmers’ market to receive instructions on how to proceed. You can find the complete list of more than 40 participating farmers’ markets at


For more information about Maine Harvest Bucks, you can email Jimmy DeBiasi at or call him at 207-370-1524. For those interested in donating, you can give back through their website at

Another resource in our community is the York County Shelter Programs Food Pantry, located at 5 Swetts Bridge Road, just off of Route 4 in Alfred. The pantry is open every Tuesday and Friday from noon to 3 p.m., but they can make special arrangements for those who cannot go at those times. They also offer a pet pantry the first Tuesday and last Friday of every month from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. where you can get food, litter, and other supplies for your cat and/or dog.

To give back, you can donate through their website at For more information, contact Mike Ouellette at 207-324-1137, ext. 103, or email

Another great resource in York County is Youth Full Maine. They run in-school food pantries and mobile free food distributions. They set up every Thursday from 2 to 3 p.m. at Dayton Town Hall and the third Wednesday of the month from 10 a.m. to noon at Rotary Park in Biddeford.

For more information or to donate, visit If you reside in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, or Arundel, you can go to Community Outreach Services out of Kennebunk for food and fuel needs. For more information, visit

Now that the holiday season is fast approaching, giving back to our community and raising awareness for those in need is of utmost importance. If you have any questions about the information here or would like to reach out with a comment, question or concern, you can reach out to me any time. If you want to stay up to date on what we’re working on in Augusta, please sign up for my email newsletter at or visit my Facebook page at

Henry Ingwersen represents Senate District 32 which is made up of Arundel, Biddeford, Dayton, Hollis and Lyman. He can be reached at or 207-287-1515.

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