Topic: Soup Kitchens

A simple change could give Maine’s hungry rural people more food

… Over the past year, Good Shepherd Food Bank and Preble Street have undertaken the first research effort of its kind to better understand trends of hunger and food pantry usage in Maine.

The results from more than 2,000 surveys completed in 244 towns in every county show how much Mainers are depending on local food pantries, stretching the capacity of a network that was set up for emergencies. A quarter of those surveyed had lost SNAP benefits in the past year, and 59 percent said they were using pantries more this year than last.

“It was really when the recession hit,” said Kristen Miale, Good Shepherd Food Bank’s president. “They saw the spike, and it has yet to get better.”

Eighty-two percent of those surveyed at their local food pantries use pantries once a month or more often. Seventy-three percent have made trade-offs, having to choose between paying for food or other necessities.

Pantries are filling a need they weren’t designed to fill, said Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street, which offers social work, housing and meals. Good Shepherd Food Bank’s pantry network — of which Preble Street is a part — gives out 21 million meals a year, while SNAP is responsible for the equivalent of 86 million meals.

“The whole idea of food pantries really was about an emergency measure, neighbor helping neighbor when something unexpected happened, catastrophe happened, and when people needed one-time, short-term help,” Swann said. “What we’ve seen is people have been coming back over and over and over again.” …

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Portland homeless shelters reach capacity because of bitter weather

… Donna Yellen, chief program officer for Preble Street, said the agency’s Joe Kreisler Teen Center reached capacity Wednesday night. The center has 24 beds. Yellen said the staff brought in cots to accommodate the overflow.

Florence House on Valley Street is a 40-bed shelter for women. When it reaches capacity, women are sent to the Oxford Street Shelter. Florence House exceeded its capacity Wednesday night, according to Yellen.

Yellen said the overflow area at Preble Street would be full Thursday night. During the day, Preble Street “was packed, the need is so great.” Preble Street serves three meals a day to the city’s homeless population.

“Homelessness, especially in these weather conditions, is life-threatening,” Yellen said …

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Never mind questions of character, leadership; who will keep food prices low?

Walking briskly up Exchange Street and realizing it was time to break out a warmer jacket, I was stopped by a man who saw the “I voted today” sticker I was wearing. “Excuse me,” he said. “Who did you vote for?… Did you vote for the people who won’t increase the price of food? I want to vote, but I don’t know who won’t increase the price of food. Who should I vote for?”

I could hear a sense of urgency in his voice, and I knew this was not a rhetorical question or even a question about which political party would do better. No, the core of his question was about food – survival.

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Maine Voices: State must end shameful food stamp policies that worsen hunger problem

… As Mainers, we should be ashamed of the growing numbers of kids and seniors with empty stomachs, fewer households eligible for crucial help augmenting their meager budgets, and more and more people lining up at food pantries and soup kitchens.

At Preble Street, we serve 1,200 meals each day at three soup kitchens and provide emergency groceries for up to 200 families each week. But we don’t want to.

Mainers need real solutions that end hunger, not just more hunger relief …

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Maine lobster taco wins the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off in Restaurant Week kickoff

Chef Isaac P. Aldrich of the Sebasco Harbor Resort in Phippsburg won the Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off Friday with his Maine Lobster Breakfast Taco …

… The Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off raised $4,000 for Preble Street this year. Preble Street provides services for the homeless and focuses on issues of housing, hunger and poverty.

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Maine Foodie Tours announces 12 months of giving campaign

PORTLAND – Maine Foodie Tours, the company that has brought culinary walking tours to Portland, Kennebunkport, Bar Harbor and Rockland, has announced its new “12 Months of Giving” campaign. Each month, a portion of ticket sales purchased for Maine Foodie Tours will be donated to a different Maine charity or organization.

“We want to take advantage of our position as a popular tour provider to elevate awareness of charities and organizations in Maine among our tour guests,” said Pamela Laskey, owner of Maine Foodie Tours. “Our company mission is to showcase the Maine entrepreneurial spirit, hard working habits and culinary talent in Maine, and with this new campaign, guests will learn how Mainers also help one another working with some amazing organizations and charities.”

The charities and organizations that Maine Foodie Tours has chosen to support in 2016 are statewide or located within the four communities in which they currently operate. Charities and organizations included in the 12 Months of Giving are: Gulf of Maine Research Institute; Preble Street; Cultivating Community – South, “Let’s Go” Nutrition Program – Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital; Making Communities Happen (Meals on Wheels); American Lung Association – Maine Chapter; Good Shepherd Food Bank; Share our Strength – No Kid Hungry – Maine Chapter; Hardy Girls, Healthy Women; Maine Lobstermen’s Association; American Diabetes Association – Maine Chapter; Friends of Acadia.

Additionally, the Animal Welfare Society of West Kennebunk is the recipient of all profits from the “Doggie and Me” six-legged tours offered each season in Kennebunkport, offering eats for the owners and treats for the furry friends.

“It’s no surprise that Maine is home to so many world class restaurants. Some of the best and most nutritious food is grown, raised, or fished here. What is surprising and distressing, though, is the fact that, despite this bounty, our state has the third highest rate of hunger in the nation,” said Mark R. Swann, executive director for Preble Street. “We depend on donations from businesses, like Maine Foodie Tours, whose generosity enables us to serve more than 1,200 meals each day to hungry people at three soup kitchens and a weekly food pantry, and work to improve food access across the state through the Preble Street Maine Hunger Initiative.”

For additional information about the 12 Months of Giving, or to schedule an interview with Pamela Laskey, please contact Kate McCann at 412-952-0633 or

Our View: Food banks’ rapid growth shows Maine falling short

… Charities rely on volunteer labor and a patchwork of organizations, each with its own rules and goals. Only the government is big enough to consistently penetrate every corner of the state and get food to the people who need it.

And even if there were no gaps for people to fall through in the web of these well-intentioned organizations, feeding the hungry should not be considered a matter of choice. Just like clean water, public safety and education, making sure that everyone has enough to eat is an obligation of a just society, not something that’s done only when individuals feel generous …

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Stuff the Bus food drive delivers to Preble Street

As we mentioned yesterday, radio station Rewind 100.9 was “stuffing the bus” to help feed hungry Mainers, and today they un-stuffed that bus. Dozens of community volunteers, including Senator Angus King, came out to unload the bus filled with several tons of food items, all going to the Preble Street soup kitchen and pantry. Preble Street serves three meals a day, every day for those in need, as well as distributes groceries to around 200 families every week through its food pantry.

Volunteer Manager Tori Stenbak said, “It’s really amazing to see how the community has come together to support what we are doing here. I mean, there are just so many people in need. And it’s going to be really heart-warming to get these meals out there.”

Rewind 100.9’s stuff the bus food drive is the largest food drive in Maine, bringing over a million pounds of food to Preble Street over the past nine years.

Shelter Food Pantry Helps People Who Didn’t Get GA

PORTLAND, Maine – The Preble Street Resource Center here held an emergency food pantry Tuesday for asylum seekers who mistakenly did not receive General Assistance in the beginning of September.

Gov. Paul LePage had intended to veto a bill last spring that required the state to reimburse cities that provide assistance to asylum seekers. After he missed the deadline to veto, the law went into effect.
But Donna Yellen of Preble Street says the changing nature of the law has caused confusion.

“So there was a misunderstanding and some of the food benefits through General Assistance were not administered in the beginning days of September,” she says.

Yellen says the mistake has since been corrected, but the food pantry was necessary to provide extra support. About 100 people came to Preble Street to receive boxes of watermelon, avocados, corn, beans and canned goods.