Maine Hunger Facts

“There’s no good reason for people in Maine to go hungry. There’s plenty of food. The problem has always been overcoming the economic and political obstacles that prevent food from reaching those who need it. Ending hunger means solving these more systemic problems while, at the same time, doing everything we can on a daily basis to feed hungry people…” –Good Shepard Food Bank of Maine

Maine has the highest child hunger rate in New England and one of the highest in the nation. 

One in five Maine children regularly experiences food insecurity. One in three students in Cumberland County and more than half in the Portland schools are at risk of going hungry.

Though many of us may not realize the grave disparities that exist in our own communities, people struggle with hunger in every county and congressional district in Maine. They could be our neighbors, kids in our children’s classes – the possibilities go on.

In Maine, 173,080 people are struggling with hunger – and of them 47,460 are children.

  • 1 in 8 people struggles with hunger.
  • 1 in 5 children struggles with hunger.
  • People facing hunger in Maine are estimated to report needing $105,835,000 more per year to meet their food needs.

*The average cost of a meal in Maine is $3.61. Data from Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap 2020 study.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in Maine Charitable programs are unable to fully support those struggling with hunger. The combination of charity and government assistance programs are necessary to help bridge the meal gap.

SNAP, formerly food stamps, provides temporary help for people going through hard times – providing supplemental money to buy food until they can get back on their feet.

In Maine,

  • 33.2% of households receiving SNAP benefits have children
  • $203,630,527 distributed through SNAP generated $346,171,896 in economic activity*.

*Economists estimate that every dollar a household redeems through SNAP generates about $1.70 in economic activity.

Research

  • Map The Meal Gap – A study by Feeding America containing county-level food insecurity data.
  • Hunger Pains: Widespread Food Insecurity Threatens Maine’s Future – A 2016 report by Good Shepherd Food Bank and Preble Street based on statewide surveys & focus groups.
  • Hunger in Maine 2014 – Local report from Feeding America’s Hunger in America study.
  • USDA Household Food Security in the United States, 2016 – Annual food insecurity data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Older Mainers, Empty Plates: Senior Food Insecurity in Maine – A 2017 compilation of recent research on senior food insecurity in Maine.
  • Food Insecurity Among Older Adults – 2015 report by AARP Foundation.
  • Food Insecurity & Hunger in the US – Children’s Health Watch.