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GBAM food cupboard patrons to continue receiving farm-fresh produce

Jul 01, 2019

Belfast — Maine food pantries will be able to distribute fresh produce grown by local farmers for at least the next two years, thanks to last-minute funding approved by the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee on June 18. The GBAM food cupboard in East Belfast, and the people it serves, are among those to benefit.

The Appropriations Committee voted 9-4 to draw $1 million per year from special revenue funds to continue the “Mainers Feeding Mainers” program through the 2020-21 fiscal year. The program, administered through Good Shepherd Food Bank, provides modest payments to farmers for nutritious fresh food they provide to authorized feeding and food distribution programs.

Continuation of the popular program that benefits both local growers and the recipients of the fresh produce had been in doubt when funding was not included in the two-year state budget signed by Gov. Janet Mills earlier in June. The new funding will come from sources outside the state’s General Fund paid by taxpayers.

Food pantries, soup kitchens and feeding programs approved by Good Shepherd Food Bank welcome the nutritious value and variety of the fruits and vegetables they can give out, which supplement the mostly canned and packaged food they otherwise distribute.

Although farmers in return receive less than full retail price for their produce, the “Mainers Feeding Mainers” payments offset some of their costs and make it possible for them to continue contributing to food distribution programs.

Local participants in the program include the Belfast food cupboard operated by the Greater Bay Area Ministerium, located on the lower level of the United Methodist Church at 23 Mill Lane. The GBAM food cupboard has close ties with local farmers and emphasizes good nutrition in the food it offers during distribution hours on alternate Friday mornings.

In operation for over 25 years, last year it distributed 66,456 pounds of food valued at over $111,000, purchased below retail cost with money donated by individuals and churches. Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to GBAM Food Cupboard, 23 Mill Lane, Belfast ME 04915.

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