Caribou farm feeds Mainers

CARIBOU, Maine — Thanks to the hard work of farmers across Maine, including those at Irving Farms in Caribou, thousands of Mainers who struggle to make ends meet will have fresh vegetables on their tables this holiday season.

Irving Farms recently finished up its fall harvest of fresh Maine potatoes. They have been participating in Good Shepherd Food Bank’s Mainers Feeding Mainers program since 2013. In this program, the food bank partners with local farms to purchase fresh foods for food pantries, meal programs and other hunger relief agencies. Last year the food bank purchased more than 155,000 pounds of potatoes from Irving to distribute through its statewide network of hunger relief partners.

According to Noah Winslow, marketing and business development manager at Irving Farms, “Mainers Feeding Mainers is a good long-term sales option for our farm. We are grateful to participate in this important program.”

Good Shepherd works with 70 farms across Maine to purchase and distribute locally grown products for its network of 400 partner hunger relief programs statewide. To date the food bank has distributed 1.8 million pounds of locally sourced food and invested nearly $700,000 in the state’s agriculture sector.

“Mainers Feeding Mainers is a reflection of two of the food bank’s strongest commitments,” said Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank. “We are committed to providing Mainers facing hunger with more than just calories — we aim to provide healthy, nourishing food. We also strive to support local communities and by investing in local farms, we’re able to do just that.”

Irving Farms often makes donations in addition to what the food bank purchases. On top of that, they handle the shipping, bringing potatoes to Good Shepherd’s primary distribution center in Auburn. Once the renovations are complete on the food bank’s new Hampden distribution center in 2019, Irving will ship product there, as well.

According to USDA, 14.4 percent of Maine households are food insecure, meaning they lack access to adequate nutritious food. It’s estimated that more than 23 percent of children in Aroostook County live in food-insecure households.

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