Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Join us to Protect Food Assistance for Mainers in Need

Federal funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is at risk. Congress is working on changes to key tax policies that will result in a drastic increase in the deficit. This will increase long-term pressure to substantially cut spending and nutrition programs like SNAP will likely be on the chopping block. Other programs that are important to the people we serve will likely also be at risk.

Cuts to SNAP would also lead to increased hunger in our state and dramatic increases in demand on local hunger relief programs. Cuts would also damage the Maine economy and the businesses where SNAP recipients spend their benefits.

Good Shepherd Food Bank has joined with our partners at Maine Equal Justice Partners and Preble Street to form the Alliance to Protect SNAP. Over the next year, we will work to educate the public and our Congressional delegation about the importance of SNAP and will raise our collective voice to advocate for this crucial program.

To sign your organization onto the Alliance to Protect SNAP to receive ongoing updates, please contact Clara McConnell at cmcconnell@gsfb.org.

SNAP in Maine

  • More than 189,000 people in Maine use SNAP to access enough food
  • 63% of Maine SNAP recipients are in families with children
  • 43% are in families with members who are elderly or have disabilities (a higher proportion than the national average, which is 30%)
  • 41% of the Maine families who accept SNAP are working but cannot fully afford meals with their paycheck alone
  • SNAP lifted 47,000 people in our state out of poverty each year, on average, between 2009 and 2012 (including 16,000 children)

Different Ways to Cook Butternut Squash

·         Pierce squash in several places (using a fork or sharp knife) to let air escape
·         Place squash in a microwave safe dish
·         Microwave for about 10-15 minutes or until tender
·         Remove carefully as it will be hot
·         Once cooled, cut in half and scoop out the seeds
·         Scoop squash away from skin and mash with a fork

·         Peel squash with a vegetable peeler
·         Cut in half and remove the seeds
·         Cut into cubes
·         Boil in water for 15-20 minutes
·         Drain the water
·         Mash with a fork or serve cubed

·         Preheat oven to 400°F
·         Cut butternut squash in half (length wise) & scoop out the seeds
·         Drizzle cut sides with olive oil
·         Boil in water for 15-20 minutes
·         Place on baking sheet (cut-side down)
·         Roast for about 40 minutes or until tender and can easily be pierced with a fork
·         Scoop squash away from skin and mash with a fork OR peel skin away from squash, cut into   cubes and serve

·         Preheat oven to 400°F
·         Pierce whole squash in several places (using a fork or sharp knife) to let air escape
·         Place whole squash on an ungreased baking sheet
·         Bake for  60 minutes or until tender and can easily be pierced with a fork
·         Cut squash in half and remove seeds
·         Scoop squash away from skin and mash with a fork OR peel skin away from squash, cut into cubes and serve


SURVEY! Tell Us Your Program’s Needs

As mentioned in this issue’s capacity building article (please click here for more details), we are now collecting known partner agency equipment needs in a central location to help us better understand and seek resources to address the needs of our partners. 

This information was last collected during our early 2017 Partner Agency Survey. Not all GSFB partner agencies completed that lengthier survey, so this is your opportunity to let us know what your program needs in a shorter format, three questions only! If you already filled out the survey earlier this year and indicated your equipment needs, you don’t need to do it again as we have saved those responses. However, if your needs have changed, please enter your updates using the linked survey below.

While we may not have funding available at this time to fulfill your need, knowing exactly what would help your program run more efficiently is helpful when we are approached by funders about how best to provide support or when we learn about equipment needing new homes.

Please take the survey here: Partner Agency Equipment Needs –Winter

Partner Agency Survey Results

Earlier this year, you were asked to complete a Partner Agency Survey. This survey had sixty-eight questions, ranging from basic operational details about your program, to your program’s top needed equipment items, to your experience working with Good Shepherd Food Bank. Over 56 percent of our partners completed this survey giving us some great data to work with to better understand the needs of the network. With this information collected, we are adapting some of the ways that we deliver resources to hopefully be more relevant and effective. One example is how we are redesigning our capacity building program. Please see the article about capacity building in this issue for more details click here.

We also want to share with you the results of the survey. This is a lot of information to share, so at the advice of our Network Advisory Council (click herewe are going to share pieces of the survey each newsletter. Your GSFB field representative is also available to provide more information about the survey.

This issue, we’ll share an overview of responses from the “Getting to Know You and Your Program” section of the survey. Thank you again to all who responded!

Of the 162 agencies who completed the survey:
88% operate food pantries, 16% are meal sites, 3% are shelters, and 8% operated youth programs. Some agencies do more than one type of food outreach. (see chart for survey question #4 below)

People who completed the survey were generally in a leadership role at the organization and had been involved with the organization’s ending hunger work for varying lengths of time (see chart for survey question #8 below)


Survey respondents reported their own age. More than half are 61 years or older, and more than three-quarters are 51 years or older.

The majority of survey respondents were unpaid volunteers of the organization.

Approximately two-thirds of the organizations have been partnered with Good Shepherd Food Bank for over six years, many for close to two decades.

Partner Agency Capacity Building Program

What is capacity building?
According to the National Council of Nonprofits, “capacity building is not just about the capacity of a nonprofit today -- it's about the nonprofit’s ability to deliver its mission effectively now, and in the future. Capacity building is an investment in the effectiveness and future sustainability of a nonprofit.”
While we’d all like to envision a near future where food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens are no longer needed, our collective work of providing hunger relief is likely to be a reality for some time to come. As long as there are food insecure people with nowhere else to turn, we are committed to ensuring that our system of providing assistance is strong and stable.

Good Shepherd Food Bank’s Capacity Building Program is a collection of actions we take to assist our partner network in maintaining healthy programs of food support in communities across Maine.
Capacity building work can take on many different forms, from developing a strong communication and outreach strategy, improving volunteer recruitment and retention, updating equipment and technology, measuring and telling the story of program impact, and ensuring there is a leadership succession plan. Our 2017 Partner Agency Survey was a step in the direction of understanding what areas of capacity building we can provide the most impactful support.
One of the first steps we are taking is to better understand the equipment needs of our partners. We understand that lack of cold storage or inadequate storage facilities can have a big impact on your ability to serve your community. Equipment also happens to be an item for which we regularly have donors happy to provide funding. Up until this point, when we are offered a funding opportunity we’ve had to do some educated guess work about how big the need is for a particular equipment item. For instance, if a donor provides us funding to purchase twenty refrigerators, it hasn’t been easy to figure out which programs in our network have a need for a refrigerator in that moment. We occasionally have donors say they’ll donate a certain amount of money and ask what the equipment or infrastructure needs are in our network, and again, this has been hard to answer in real time.
For the reasons stated above, we are asking all our partners to let us know your equipment needs now so that we have a running list that we can reference when donations become available. A list of known needs will also help us seek out support in a more informed way. Please see the survey (here) in this issue where you can enter your program’s equipment and technology needs. Keep this link and update it regularly.

With this information on hand, we will be able to connect available funding to known needs more quickly and avoid lengthy and complicated grant application processes whenever possible. Please take the time to complete the survey so that your program is included when funding for your needs becomes available.

Lubec Community Outreach Center Update

Submitted by:

Catherine M. Arrington
Executive Director
Lubec Community Outreach Center
PO Box 41
Lubec, Maine 04652

Through a partnership between Good Shepherd Food Bank, we opened the Lubec Community Food Pantry in January 2016. Our team of community volunteers work together on every second Wednesday of the month to unload the truck delivery and prepare for distribution and we distribute food every third Wednesday of the month from 1-4 pm. We also distribute emergency food upon request.

From the beginning we discussed changing the pantry model from pre-packed boxes to a choice model. We currently serve over 178 families consisting of 384 individuals in our community and nine neighboring communities. Across our programs we have 110 volunteers that donate more than 1145 hours of their valuable time in any given year. The Lubec Pantry constitutes approximately 58% of our volunteer activity. Our pantry operates solely on local donations.

During 2016 as we worked on our strategic planning process organization wide we identified that philosophically we wanted to change to a choice model. We developed our pantry manual to support that change and prepared the space to be able to operate a choice model. Our major concerns related to the change were whether or not it would be more time consuming for our volunteers at distribution, tracking inventory, and whether or not we could control costs.

The biggest challenge for us was no different than for any organization or person – fear of the unknown. Organizationally, we have accepted that change is not easy for any of us as human beings. We had a lot of discussion and planning with our volunteers and there was some skepticism and a willingness to try something new. We decided to see if it went well knowing we could always revert back to the former model. In February 2017 we completed our first choice distribution. The response was overwhelming from pantry participants. We had many comments from people thanking us for knowing that they could decide for themselves what they wanted to eat. This was very meaningful for us and a realization that we are very literally living our mission.

The community food drive hosted by the post office every year typically brings food back to the pantry that was originally distributed by the pantry. During the last food drive we saw far less items being returned to us because people are now choosing food they will use. Six months after changing to a choice model we see that the work for volunteers has decreased by 22% and pantry expenses have decreased by 28% because we are no longer wasting food that people don’t want. The distribution time has been cut in half. Most importantly, the choice model helps restore a sense of pride for people struggling with the daily effects of living in poverty. Anything we can do that gives people hope breeds more hope and potential positive forward movement.

GSFB’s Network Advisory Council

Beginning in January 2017, a group of partner agency leaders joined forces with Good Shepherd Food Bank to form the Network Advisory Council. This group meets quarterly to provide support and feedback to GSFB on topics that may include product purchasing, outreach activities, recommendations for best practices, training and education opportunities, and innovative strategies for strengthening the charitable food network.

This group was chosen based on partner agency expressed interest and also on providing a balanced representation of the partner network, based on type of program, size of agency, region, and active participation with GSFB.

Current Network Advisory Council members are:
Betty Morrell, Faith Food Pantry, Gardiner
Charlene Buzza, GIFT (Grace Interfaith Food Cupboard), Presque Isle
David Dawson, Greater Waterville Area Food Bank, Waterville
Don Morrison, Wayside Food Programs, Portland
Karen King, Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard, Dover-Foxcroft
Katie Brown, Locker Project, Portland
Lee Upton, High Street Congregational Church Food Pantry in Auburn
Leiza Hiltz Scerbo, Care and Share Food Closet, Farmington
Patti Wright, Northport Food Pantry, Northport
Rich Norman, St. Bernard’s Soup Kitchen, Rockland
Rob Crone, Eastern Area Agency on Aging, Bangor
Sue Hahn, Hampden Neighborhood Food Cupboard, Hampden
Tanya Bormet, No Greater Love Food Pantry, Searsmont
Wendy Harrington, Maine Sea Coast Mission, Cherryfield
Kathy Helming, GSFB VP of Community Partnerships, staff liaison to the committee

Good Shepherd Food Bank wishes to thank the members of our inaugural Network Advisory Committee for their commitment to this group and to ending hunger in Maine. Be on the lookout in future issues of Partner News for updates from the Network Advisory Committee about their work.

Agency Services Updates

This section of the newsletter will give updated news from our team. Please click on the links below to learn more about each topic. As always, please reach out to your local field representative, or anyone on our team with any questions.

  • We have recently begun a project to combine the duties of our Agency Services Field Representatives with our Retail Store Program Coordinator staff positions. These two positions, one managing our partner agency relationships, and one managing our food donor relationships, have had overlapping territories until now. In an effort to improve efficiency, we are piloting the combination of these positions. This means that in the future your local agency field representative will also be who you reach out to in regards to retail store donations. This will also allow a reduction in the size of our field staff territories, meaning staff will spend less time driving in their car and more time directly working on the development of food security resources in the community. We are piloting this project in Central Maine to start.
  • We are welcoming a new Agency Services Coordinator as Sarah Colborn, who has been in this position since earlier this spring, will be moving into a new role here in support of the pilot mentioned above. Your new Agency Services Coordinator is Kristen D’Eramo. Kristen started this week and is learning quickly and will be jumping on the phones next week. She will be a great support to you for any questions you have about your agency orders, online ordering guidance, submission of TEFAP reporting forms, accessing your online statements, making payments to your account, and much more. Kristen can be reached at (207)782-3554 x1120 or kderamo@gsfb.org.
  • 2017 Holiday and Inventory Calendar - https://www.gsfb.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/2017-calendar-with-closures.pdf
  • Winter Storm Policy - https://www.gsfb.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Winter-Storm-Policy-2017.docx

GSFB Network is a blog for partner agencies of Good Shepherd Food Bank focused on feeding Maine's hungry.