AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Food pantries across the state are feeling the pinch as the spring season is typically a slow time for donations, and Good Shepherd Food Bank said this year the need is high again.
Good Shepherd serves 600 organizations across the state, many of which are seeing an increase in demand for fresh fruits and vegetables.
One of those organizations is Seventh Day Adventist Church in Auburn. Food Pantry Director Pam Blake-Strout said her pantry provides food to nearly 500 families each week. She said most of them look for fresh fruit and vegetables for nutrition, which is what her pantry relies on for donations this time of year.
"The people coming in, we have a lot of seniors coming in, and I'm telling you, they're literally in tears saying I wouldn't be able to have any of this if it wasn't for us being able to get it from the food pantries," Blake-Strout said.
Good Shepherd Food Bank said it's also seeing an increase in demand for fresh produce. Last year, fruits, vegetables, proteins, and dairy accounted for half of its total distribution.
"The problem is that low-income families really lack access to nutritious food, and there's a real barrier there," Good Shepherd President Kristen Miale said. "The average consumer knows that sometimes the healthiest food tends to be the most cost prohibitive."
As a way to solve that problem, Good Shepherd has been working with local farmers to provide fresh food to families in need.
Just last year, the food bank purchased more than 400,000 lbs. from local farmers. That's on top of the 500,000 lbs. Good Shepherd said was donated from local farms.
Feed Maine Food Drive
On Saturday, May 4th, NEWS CENTER crews will be at five Hannaford Supermarkets throughout the state collecting donations of food and money to benefit the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
Crews will be at Sanford, Scarborough, Auburn, Augusta, and Bangor locations. For more on the event, click here.