Winter always brings its challenges: increased fuel costs, the hassle and expense of snow removal, a mood-affecting lack of sunlight — but this year, Maine was dealt a harsher blow than usual, with devastating back-to-back-to-back storms walloping communities across the state.

Here on the coast, we barely had time to pick up the pieces between tempests, facing historic tides, flooding, power outages and wind damage. Though the national news cycle has moved on, MCHPP continues to listen to the stories of our guests and neighbors.

With fishing wharves and boats damaged, many along the coast lost their livelihoods.

“A guy was telling me how he was getting food for himself and a friend because his friend was a fisherman and lost his boat in one of the recent storms and now has no source of income,” said Heather Arvidson, MCHPP’s program director. “Someone in the soup kitchen line shared that his sister in Harpswell can’t get out of her driveway because it’s washed away from the storm last week. So, he’s been getting food for her each day.”

Piers and lobster pounds were swept out to sea, waterfront businesses destroyed, traps lost. The cost of repairs is often steep.

In addition, extended power outages led to food spoilage in temporarily defunct fridges and freezers, meaning hefty grocery bills to restock perishables — made worse by ever-rising grocery costs and pervasive shrinkflation.


“Our Satellite Pantry at the Harpswell Town Office satellite has gone through a lot more food than usual as so many people need help replacing the food they lost in power outages,” said Caroline Daigle, MCHPP’s satellite programs manager.

SNAP-enrolled Maine Households say that reimbursements often don’t come close to covering the cost of food lost during extended power outages and can require hours on the phone or completing paperwork. “I sent someone an emergency box who told me that she lost all her perishable food items due to the storm and said that she was only reimbursed $23 through her SNAP benefits,” said Laddy DeLuca Lowell, MCHPP’s grocery delivery coordinator.

We have heard from many guests in recent weeks that the challenges continue. The damage is still recent, and repairs need to be made—and the winter is not yet over. While the cycle of the season has moved on, Mainers remain in the thick of it; even a walk around the neighborhood or along the shore brings with it views of broken pavement and entire trees ripped up by the roots. For those whose livelihoods have been affected, the echoes of these storms will ring far longer still.

In this aftermath, MCHPP offers help to our neighbors in need and asks our community to contribute what they can. One in ten people in Maine face food insecurity, including one in seven children, and this series of storms has only increased the need. On the long road to recovery, MCHPP will continue to offer food access through our pantries, satellites, soup kitchen, and more.

Kenyon King is communications coordinator for Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local non-profit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community. 

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