Friday, February 28, 2014

Save the Date: Regional Network Conferences Scheduled for May!

Your Agency Services Team has high hopes of attracting more Good Shepherd Food Bank partners to our Network Conference 2014 by offering regional meetings instead of one large gathering in Augusta. Conferences will be held:

Monday, May 5, in Auburn
Monday, May 12, in Bangor/Brewer
Monday, May 19, in Caribou

We will have the same program at each conference, and you may choose which site is best for you to get to.
We are planning for a 5-6 hour day. Local community programs will be invited for a "resources fair," Good Shepherd Food Bank staff will be on hand to talk about current and future programs, and we will ask for your participation on panels and as part of discussion groups. Doing something innovative in your pantry or soup kitchen program?  We'd love for you to share!  Experiencing some growing pains as demand for your services keeps going up and up? Feel like you're out there all alone?  This is an opportunity to network with other programs doing similar work -- to compare successes and challenges and to swap stories and ideas!  
We are working to set the event sites as well as the day's schedule, and we'll open registration as soon as we have those details ready! Scholarships will be available.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What Your Consumers Need to Know About Health Insurance in 2014

Agency Services Field Rep Lori Fecteau (r) visited Katahdin Food Kupboard in East Millinocket on Tuesday, and enrolling for health insurance was a topic of conversation.  Here, pantry volunteers Marlene & Mike talk
with Lori about their enrollment experience.  See the article below for more information on how pantries can help consumers with insurance information before the March 31 deadline.

by Emily Brostek, MPH, CHES, Consumer Assistance Program Manager
    Consumers for Affordable Health Care Foundation

(special to the GSFB Network Blog)

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, many Mainers have a new way to get health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

The Health Insurance Marketplace helps people find health coverage they can afford. People can apply online at, by phone at 1-800-318-2596, or with the help of a local assister.

Most Mainers can get help paying for a plan on the Marketplace. Financial help is available on a sliding scale, based on how much money you make and how big your household is. For example, a couple in Portland who make $25,000 a year could get a plan for between $0-94 a month.

Some parents, children, people with disabilities, and seniors may find out they qualify for MaineCare or CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program). They should apply for MaineCare using the online portal at My Maine Connection, or by calling our HelpLine at 1-800-965-7476.

Help spread the word!

Nearly 7 out of 10 people do not know that financial help is available. Many have not checked out their options yet because they think they can’t afford insurance.

Maine's food pantries and soup kitchens can help! Here’s how:

· Share materials at your site. Contact our HelpLine at 1-800-965-7476, and we will send you brochures and flyers. You can also order resources online through Enroll207.

· Ask a local assister to visit your food pantry or soup kitchen to do an info session or help clients sign up. You can find local assisters by visiting

· Refer people to our HelpLine at 1-800-965-7476 for help. We can help people understand their options and how to apply.

Remember, people who don’t have insurance in 2014 may have to pay a penalty, unless they qualify for an exemption! The deadline to sign up is approaching quickly: March 31, 2014!

(Not sure you understand the Affordable Care Act? This short video is a great introduction to "Understanding the Health Insurance Marketplace in Maine" -- share with family and friends and post it on your pantry or soup kitchen's Facebook page! You don't need to be an expert on the Affordable Care Act, as long as you know where to go -- and where to refer others -- for help.)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Picturing Hunger in America"

Kathy Helming, VP of Agency Services

I came across an interesting article on PBS's website the other day about a program in Colorado called "Hunger Through My Lens" that gave digital cameras to food stamp recipients and asked them to chronicle through photos what their experience with hunger is like.  The project was sponsored by Hunger Free Colorado, a non-profit in Centennial, Colorado.
I was struck by the creativity of the women who responded to the call for volunteers and who shared their stories so openly and eloquently.  I know that many of you are hearing similar stories from your consumers about their constant worry of not being able to afford the food their household needs, the impact a sudden illness can make on their family's food security, or how quickly unemployment can wipe out their family savings.  Read the article here and scroll down to the bottom to see a  short (6 1/2 minute) video which appeared recently on PBS's NewsHour.  
Capturing the stories of your consumers is a powerful tool in keeping hunger in your community in the spotlight.  While there are some similarities in the events that can lead to food insecurity, hunger and its impact is very individual and personal.
Are you interested in a video or photography project to bring awareness to the need in your community?  We'd be happy to help you get started; reach out to your Agency Services team!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Food Recall: Kettle Brand Bakes Sea Salt Potato Chips

Kettle Brand is issuing a voluntary recall on a limited run of its 4-ounce Kettle Brand Bakes Sea Salt Potato Chips because of potential exposure to milk-based sour cream seasoning, a potential milk allergen not declared on the ingredient label.

The brand is recalling 144 cases as a precaution. The product was distributed to 12 customer warehouses that supply retail stores nationwide. This is the only item impacted, and there have been no reports of illnesses or injury.

ALL cased and uncased inventories in your program need to be checked. This product may have entered your program through salvage, local donations, TEFAP, local purchases, retail pickups, food drives, or other avenues.

For full details on the recall, please visit the FDA's website.  In addition, we urge you to post the recall notice at your pantry or meal program in order to inform consumers of this potential health risk for themselves or members of their household.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Agency Services team with questions or concerns.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Senior Farm Share Update!

There is news from the Department of Agriculture on the 2014 Maine Senior FarmShare Program.  With the passing and signing of the Farm Bill earlier this month, it appears now that there may be funding for the Senior FarmShare program.  The Maine Department of Ag is waiting for guidance from the USDA on what the program requirements are for this season.  At the very least, the season is delayed.  For more details and updates, see the Get Real Get Maine website.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fundraising Opportunity! Deadline is February 28th!

In less than 3 minutes, you can help your organization win a $5,000 grant fromBangor Savings Bank through their Community Matters More program!

How It Works
A total of 68 grants will be awarded by Bangor Savings Bank, including the organizations listed on the ballot and the top 20 write-in vote recipients (at least two write-ins per region). The top vote-getting organizations in each region, including write-ins, will each receive $5,000. The remaining 60 organizations will each receive $1,000.

What To Do
Find your geographic region and under OTHER you may “write-in” the name of your organization.    If you are already listed, simply vote for yourself !!

Online voting has started and will end on February 28th.

Bangor Savings Bank only accepts one ballot per person, so get busy forwarding this to family and friends of your organization.   You may vote on-line or by paper ballot available at any Bangor Savings Bank branches, and you may vote for up to three organizations!   Share this with your community supporters and ask them to vote right away!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mainers Feeding Mainers Video

Good Shepherd Food Bank's Mainers Feeding Mainers program has grown leaps and bounds since its inception in 2010. With February's arrival, our MFM Project Director, Nancy Perry, is busily reaching out to farmers for the 2014 growing season in order to assure that our pantry, soup kitchen and emergency shelter partners can have local nutritious food for their consumers.  See more about the Mainers Feeding Mainers program at Good Shepherd Food Bank in this video, and our thanks to the John Merck Fund for sponsoring its production.

2014 Senior Farm Share Program Suspended

The USDA has just announced that the Senior Farm Share Program is suspended for 2014 until further notice.  The program has not been authorized by Congress.  The announcement on the State of Maine's Get Real Get Maine website states that it's unknown whether the program will be funded at all for the 2014 season.
For many years, the Senior Farm Share program has provided qualifying seniors with $50 vouchers to be used at farmers markets and farm stands in order to increase their access to fresh produce during the growing season.
Do seniors you serve participate in the Senior Farm Share Program? If so, do you have ideas on how to fill in the gap left by the discontinuation of the program for this year? If not, please reach out to your Agency Services staff to help you brainstorm or to offer suggestions on how your feeding program and Good Shepherd Food Bank can work together to ensure that seniors have access to nutritious fresh food!
GSFB Network is a blog for partner agencies of Good Shepherd Food Bank focused on feeding Maine's hungry.