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Special USDA Food Distributions Come to a Close

In the parking lot of Piscataquis County Ice Arena a volunteer wearing a lime green PRFC vest stands with arms wide open while volunteers in the background begin moving stacks of food boxes out from two large delivery trucks.
April 13th, 2021 Special Food Distribution at Piscataquis County Ice Arena

At the start of the pandemic it became quite clear, very quickly, that swift hunger relief efforts were required. PR Food Center became the holding space for emergency food and mobilized to facilitate Special No-Cost Drive Through Food Distributions for our region, partnering with the Piscataquis County Ice Arena for space.

The initiative was made possible through the USDA, which provided funding for a nation-wide effort to get food to folks in need during to the pandemic. "Farmers to Families" was the name given to the food boxes- sourced from farms all across the country and funneled to hunger relief organizations like ours.

Recently, an announcement was made that this initiative would end.

Steve Grammont shared in an email the following.

"They looked at the cost and determined that there are more cost effective ways to get people food. The ones in California, for example, cost 3x more than they do for us. It’s been working out great for our state compared to others, so our positive experience might not be typical."

From an announcement article published April 14th, 2021:

"While food bank operators are thankful for the large volumes of fresh food from the food box program - and they stress that aid is still needed - many say far more families could have been fed by sticking to existing programs with proven quality and oversight."

The full write-up and announcement can be found here.

In light of this initiative ending, and to understand the scope of service that this initiative provided, we are sharing the total numbers of individuals that came to the distributions. These tallies help describe the arc of need. Folks came to these Special No-Cost Food Distributions as far north as Jackman and as far south as Belfast. Folks arrived from within Piscataquis County and from the outer edges. We learned a lot through this experience, especially in regards to efficient set up and break down and traffic flow. We deepened our understanding of how to normalize needing help with food, and deepened our connection to community members throughout. We couldn't have provided this service without dedicated volunteers who came each time, ready and willing to load vehicles and provide a welcoming space in a great time of need.

April 2021: 1572 individuals served

March 2021: 1758 individuals served

February2021: 1447 people served

November 2020: 1654 people served

October 2020: 1877 people served

September 2020: 1073 people served

August 2020: 1213 people served

PR Food Center is dedicated to ensuring food keeps moving out to homes and families in the Maine Central Highlands. PR Food Center offers food assistance programs to homebound seniors and helps connect people to regional food cupboards. We encourage you to visit our Food Cupboard Distribution Calendar, take a look at our Food Access and Assistance page and to call any time if you or someone you know needs food. We can be reached at the office at (207) 802-8230.

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