Thursday, January 30, 2014

Farm Bill Agreement Moving Through Congress

After two years of on-and-off negotiations, Congress has reached a compromise on the Farm Bill. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Wednesday, January 29 and the Senate is expected to vote on the bill by the beginning of next week.

Highlights from the nutrition title include the following (all numbers are 10-year budget numbers): 

• $8.55 billion cut to SNAP by tightening the "Heat and Eat" provision, which would affect the following states:  California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The Heat & Eat provision is a coordination between SNAP and the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This program is intended to assist people who face the difficult choice between paying for food or paying for heat and utilities. Under Heat & Eat, people who qualify for LIHEAP are able to claim a Standard Utility Adjustment (SUA), simplifying their SNAP application and making them eligible for a higher SNAP benefit. It is estimated that the changes to Heat & Eat in the new Farm Bill couple put SNAP benefits in jeopardy for up to 11,000 Mainers.

• $205 million increase for TEFAP (a USDA commodity food program).  The TEFAP funding would be frontloaded to provide greater resources in the initial three years of the bill.

• Establishes the Dairy Donation Program. If dairy prices fall below a specific price trigger for 5 consecutive months, USDA is authorized to begin a dairy purchase program, with the dairy products going to public and private nonprofit organizations, and with instructions for USDA to consult with nonprofits on the type of dairy products requested. While there is no set cost, this would provide additional commodities much like TEFAP bonus commodities do when prices are low enough to trigger USDA price support.

• $250 million for states to pilot innovative programs help SNAP participants get back to work.

• Improves SNAP access by allowing SNAP home delivery for homebound seniors and disabled participants.

Feeding America released a press statement regarding its position, which provides additional details on the legislation. We encourage you to reach out to your Agency Field Rep with any questions or concerns about this bill, in addition to any compelling stories you hear about the impact of the bill once changes go into effect.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

CA$H Coalitions For Free Tax Preparation

CA$H Coalitions across the state are now making appointments for free tax preparation for Maine residents who made less than $58,000 in 2013.

Consumers can have their state and federal income taxes prepared and filed for free by IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers. CA$H offers no-cost tax preparation and connects consumers to free and low-cost resources that can save them money, including information about how to fund higher education for them or their children.

For more information, visit the CA$H Maine website. To find a tax prep site in your area, click the orange button on the far right labeled "Get Started: Find a CA$H Site Near You." Some of the coalitions listed have downloadable and printable flyers.

You can also dial 2-1-1 from anywhere in the state, and a call specialist will give you contacts and other resources in your area.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Email Issues at Good Shepherd Food Bank

We've been having trouble receiving and sending emails due to an email "migration" to another system.  If you have sent an email to Good Shepherd Food Bank staff in the past few days and haven't received a response, it's most likely due to this hiccup in the process of moving our emails from one operating system to another.

Online orders are still coming through another system, which is separate from email.  However, you may not receive a confirmation email. If you need confirmation of your order before Friday, January 24th, please give Heidi or Connie a call (contact below).

Please reach out to your Agency Services staff by phone if you need a quick response:
  • for renewal information or order confirmation (before January 24th):  Heidi Lupardo or Connie Woodward can be reached at (207) 782-3554.
  • for Jen MacDonald, Field Rep for Cumberland, York, Lincoln & Sagadahoc counties:  (207) 807-6181;
  • for Tia Harris, Field Rep for Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Knox, and Oxford counties:  (207) 782-3554, ext. 1106 (office) or (207) 520-9485 (cell);
  • for Lori Fecteau, Field Rep for Aroostook, Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset, Waldo, and Washington counties:  (207) 577-4393
  • for Kathy Helming, VP of Agency Services:  (207) 782-3554, ext. 1119.
We are sorry for this inconvenience, and we look forward to being up and running at full capacity soon! 

Thank you for your patience!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Interested in an online food safety course? How about a discount?

Food safety is imperative in the work that you do in the fight to end hunger in Maine. Are you or your fellow volunteers looking for a food safety training course online? Servsafe offers multiple courses, both online and in the classroom, that equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to confidently and safely handle food in your program. Simply visit Servsafe's website and select the course that best fits your needs.

Many of our agencies have successfully earned their food safety certificates through the Servsafe Food Handler’s online course and assessment and you can too! Follow these simple steps:
Visit the Servsafe website; and select the Servsafe Food Handler’s course.
  • Click on the “buy products” button and select the state you live in
  • A complete list of Servsafe’s Food Handler’s Program will appear; select the program of your choosing
  • Register by creating a user id and password
  • Once registration is complete, add the course of your choosing to your shopping cart
  • Your chosen course will appear with product description and pricing
  • If you have a “coupon code”, enter it in the field provided (just under the product description) to receive your discount (see information below on coupon codes)
  •  Click on the “Go to checkout” button
  • Enter your payment information; if you used a coupon code, you should see your discount on the final price
  • Click the “go to order review” button and finalize your purchase
You have one year from the date of purchase to launch your Servsafe course. Once the course has been launched, you have 60-90 days (depending on the chosen course) to complete the course before it will expire. Please be sure to check the actual Servsafe website for additional information, details and system requirements for online courses.

 How about a discount?

Discounts (coupon codes) are frequently available online through; Be sure you search for Servsafe.

Thank you for making food safety a top priority in your program!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Calendar Now Available!

Closed fewer Monday Holidays and Inventory Days

Good Shepherd Food Bank's 2014 holiday and inventory calendar is available to download here. Please print and post in your site and distribute to your volunteers.
In order to allow our agencies more access to food in our warehouses, Good Shepherd will be closed fewer Monday holidays in 2014, and we will close only quarterly for inventory (Feb., May, Aug. and Nov.).  This change has the added benefit of giving pantries and soup kitchens access to volunteers and groups of volunteers who normally work or are in school during the week but have Monday holidays off and can help with loading or unloading a trip to Good Shepherd!  
GSFB Network is a blog for partner agencies of Good Shepherd Food Bank focused on feeding Maine's hungry.