Kristen Miale, President of Good Shepherd Food Bank
By Rachel Hurn
In a normal year, Kristen Miale, who has been at Good Shepherd Food Bank for over a decade, faces onerous challenges. The Food Bank’s charitable food network, originally built for emergency relief, helps to feed 13 percent of Maine’s population. COVID-19 has amplified hunger and poverty in a way the organization’s president says she has never seen before, with unprecedented demand in the face of a reduced volunteer corps, disruptions in the supply chain, and the logistical challenges of delivering more food safely to all who need it. “Yet, 95 percent of our partners remained open and operational throughout the pandemic and welcomed more people than ever before—including many people and families who visited a food pantry for the first time in their lives,” says Miale. With its partners, Good Shepherd Food Bank distributed 31.3 million meals throughout 2020, a 25 percent increase over the prior year. While scrambling to respond to this increase in need, Miale and her team also went to work redistributing funds to other nonprofits led by and serving Black, Indigenous, and people of color through a low-barrier grant program designed to increase access to culturally important foods called the Community Redistribution Fund. “Here in Maine, 28 percent of households led by a person of color are food insecure, which is more than two times the rate for all Maine households,” says Miale. Since April 2020, Good Shepherd Food Bank has granted nearly $500,000 to more than 20 organizations across the state, forming invaluable new partnerships that will help inform and grow this area of its work in the future.