All 55 credit unions in the state participated in the campaign, which is the signature social responsibility initiative for Maine credit unions.
All funds raised by the campaign stay in Maine and support local food banks, pantries, nonprofits, and schools. Nearly 300 organizations received financial support last year as part of this effort.
“I am incredibly proud of the contributions each of our credit unions makes to our Ending Hunger initiative,” says Todd Mason, president/CEO of the Maine Credit Union League. “This year, 100% of Maine’s credit unions contributed in some capacity to this important effort.
In addition to individual credit unions contributing to food pantries and hunger organizations in their communities, the Maine Credit Union League coordinates statewide initiatives to make an impact statewide.
Among the programs the campaign supports:
- School Backpack and Pantry Program. To date, the campaign has contributed more than $200,000 to expand and support the backpack program and school food pantry program in schools across Maine. The School Backpack and Pantry Program now operates in more than 125 schools statewide.
- Hampden Distribution Center Project. Initiated in 2018, this is a five-year, $100,000 commitment to renovate the Good Shepherd Distribution Center in Hampden. As part of the commitment, the facility’s food packing area will be known as the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger Food Packing Area. When complete, the center will have the capacity to provide more than 10 million meals.
- Food Mobile. In 2005, the campaign partnered with Good Shepherd Food Bank to provide initial support to bring the first Food Mobile to Maine. Since then, the campaign makes annual contributions to support this initiative to deliver food to areas in need, especially during emergencies.
- Walking Tour. Since 2002, the campaign and Brenda Davis, one of the state’s leading anti-hunger advocates, have partnered to raise awareness about hunger through the Annual Maine Credit Unions’ Ending Hunger Walking Tour. Each October and November, the tour visits communities across Maine and contributes to a food pantry in each community. In 2018, the tour was the largest yet, with visits to 96 credit union locations in 90 communities. The 2018 effort yielded nearly $40,000.
Jen Burke, Maine Credit Union League communications and outreach manager, says hunger is more prevalent than most people realize, and combating hunger goes hand-in-hand with another cause important to credit unions: financial literacy.
“People who are food-secure are more likely to be financially secure,” Burke says. “This is all part of arming people to lead fit and secure lifestyles.”
Maine State Credit Union in Augusta, named “top credit union fundraiser,” garnered more than $83,000 in donations, and Gardiner Federal Credit Union was awarded for the highest per-member contributions.
Since 1990, the Maine Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger has raised more than $8.5 million.