PORTLAND — The Good Shepherd Food Bank, which distributes food to 600 hunger relief agencies across the state, has moved its distribution center from Rand Road to Biddeford.
Good Shepherd shut its Portland warehouse on June 27 and was scheduled to open in Biddeford on July 2, Communications Manager Clara McConnell Whitney said last week.
The move is intended to provide easier food distribution to York County agencies, which previously had to travel up to 50 miles to pick up food supplies at the Portland warehouse, she said.
Portland-area agencies, such as Preble Street Resource Center, will have to go a little farther to get their supplies. That means traveling to either the new Biddeford warehouse, about 20 miles away, or a warehouse at Good Shepherd’s headquarters in Auburn, 30 miles away.
In addition, Whitney pointed out, local agencies can place an online order for food supplies and have them delivered to Wayside Food Programs, on Walton Street in Portland.
“Our goal is to provide the most nutritious food we can in an equitable way across all 16 counties (of Maine),” Good Shepherd President Kristen Miale said. “And equity is based on several factors – we need to be equitable in the food we distribute based on the need, and we need to be equitable in the service we offer.”
The Biddeford warehouse, at 10 Arctic Circle, is close to both U.S. Route 1 and the Maine Turnpike, Whitney said. The Biddeford space is also slightly smaller than the Portland warehouse, allowing Good Shepherd to save costs.
Good Shepherd will continue to operate a Portland office at a location to be determined, which will also host the food bank’s cooking and nutrition classes, Whitney added.
Whitney said she doesn’t anticipate any change in the level of service to the food pantries, senior centers, youth meal sites and other agencies that rely on Good Shepherd. “But we’ll be keeping an eye on how things go in Cumberland County,” she said.
At Preble Street, Donna Yellen, director of the Maine Hunger Initiative, said she wasn’t too worried about the impact of the move.
“Any time there’s a change like this, it can have a ripple effect in the emergency food system, but Good Shepherd has been very good about communicating with us in advance,” she said. The food bank and Preble Street have worked out a new distribution arrangement, which includes a weekly delivery from Good Shepherd, she added.
“Good Shepherd seems to be doing their best to make this as seamless as possible,” Yellen said.