AUGUSTA—The Maine Legislature unanimously voted to enact legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to bolster hunger relief efforts and support local farms, early Thursday morning. The bill – LD 786, “An Act To Reduce Hunger and Promote Maine Agriculture” – would renew Mainers Feeding Mainers, which funds a partnership between local farms and food banks to reduce food insecurity.
“The Mainers Feeding Mainers program has an impressive track record of success in this state. It helps farmers and local food producers continue to build stronger operations while feeding hungry Mainers,” said President Jackson. “By renewing this program, we can reduce hunger in this state and bolster our local foods economy. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
The legislation directs the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry to contract with a nonprofit, whose mission includes reducing food insecurity, in a statewide hunger relief effort. The amended bill allocates $1 million in funding to provide local grants, support the procurement of local foods and pay for operation and distribution expenses.
Food insecurity is detrimental to the health and well-being of all Mainers, especially children and seniors. While 14 percent of Maine households are considered food insecure, one in five children and about one in four seniors do not have adequate access to nutritious food.
LD 786 received unanimous support in the Legislature’s Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, with hunger advocates and local farmers testifying in support of the bill. It will now go to the governor’s desk. Gov. Janet Mills has 10 days to sign the bill into law, let it become law without her signature, or veto it.