PRFC moves between 650,000 and 800,000 pounds of food each year, but where does it come from? This week, PRFC staff took a field trip to the Good Shepherd Food Bank facility in Hampden, ME, to find out! Many people confuse the words "food bank" and "food pantry." Read on to learn the different roles they play in the charitable food system.
Good Shepherd Food Bank moves millions of pounds of food each year. Based in Auburn, this organization provides food to over 600 partner agencies throughout the state--food pantries, meal sites, shelters, senior centers, healthcare facilities, and schools. The Hampden warehouse distributes food to central, northern, and Downeast Maine. PRFC serves as a distribution hub for Good Shepherd Food Bank, helping the Food Bank to more efficiently distribute food throughout rural Piscataquis County. Each Monday, a Good Shepherd truck carrying pallets of dry goods, refrigerated, and frozen food makes a delivery at PRFC. PRFC then delivers to church, school, and community pantries throughout the Piscataquis region using our smaller, refrigerated box truck during the week.
We were delighted to tour the Hampden facility. Purchased by Good Shepherd in 2015, the site was formerly used as the Bangor Daily News printing press building. The grand opening of the facility took place in 2019 after renovations were complete!
According to the Good Shepherd website: "The project repurposed a long-vacant and unproductive building into a modern, state-of-the-art food distribution and community center. Having this location improves the timeliness and efficiency of providing nutritious foods to meet Mainers’ needs struggling with hunger. One of the most significant obstacles to meeting the Food Bank’s long-term goals was the Auburn-based distribution center’s limited capacity and cold storage. Even during non-growing seasons, the Food Bank can distribute healthy produce for longer periods because of the new freezer and cold storage units."
What's so special about the Hampden building? Some highlights of the tour that made our eyes grow wide with wonder included racks of food stacked to the third-story warehouse ceiling, a giant freezer, and a multi-room, temperature-adjustable refrigerator space. Some small details that made us a little jealous were the beautifully smooth concrete floors, the efficient racking/food packing space, A ROOM FULL OF CHEESE, and ample conference space. If you are curious about what a Food Bank looks like, you can take a virtual tour of Good Shepherd's Auburn facility here: https://www.gsfb.org/about-us/virtualtour/!