AUGUSTA—The Maine Senate unanimously approved legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to bolster hunger relief efforts and support local farms, in an initial vote on Tuesday. The bill – LD 786, “An Act To Reduce Hunger and Promote Maine Agriculture” – would renew Mainers Feeding Mainers, a partnership between local farms and food banks working to reduce food insecurity.
“One of Maine’s greatest resources is our local farms and food producers. With their help and leadership, we can rely on what Maine does best and come together to help our neighbors in need,” said President Jackson. “This bill is good for Maine people, small businesses and our economy. It will ensure more Mainers in need from our children to our seniors have the nutritious food they need to stay healthy and productive.”
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 $1.5 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 Agricultural, Conservation and Forestry, with hunger advocates and local farmers testifying in support of the bill. It will now go to the floor of the House for additional votes before returning to the Senate for enactment.