🌽🥔🍠🌶🥑FOOD MATTERS! — PORTLAND FOOD PANTRY CATERS TO IMMIGRANT, ETHNIC COMMUNITIES IN MAINE!
Gillian Graham reports for the Portland Press Herald:
During the five years Betsy Paz-Gyimesi has been working as an interpreter and engagement specialist for Spanish-speaking families in Portland schools, she has seen the same scene play out many times.
When they go for help to a food pantry, they’re offered food they will not eat. Some are afraid of canned foods because they believe they are dangerous. Others have cultural or religious needs that aren’t met by the American items on the pantry shelves.
Most of the families Paz-Gyimesi works with come from Central America, and they don’t all qualify for benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other similar programs. Because there are few options for them at the food pantry, their children often rely heavily on schools for meals, Paz-Gyimesi said.
But that will begin to change next month as Wayside Food Programs in Portland launches a pilot program to better address food insecurity in immigrant communities by providing food packs customized to the needs and preferences of those receiving emergency assistance.
Working with leaders of immigrant communities, Wayside developed lists of basic pantry items they commonly use and a guide to their specific food preferences that can be used by other food programs, said Mary Zwolinski, Wayside’s executive director.
“Our hope is that it helps with the issue of food equity,” she said.
The pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted Maine’s racial and ethnic minorities, laid bare that the state’s existing emergency food structure was not adequately serving all of their needs. Some of the people most vulnerable to hunger didn’t access existing food programs. When they did, many did not find food – Jasmine rice, dried fish, pork-free products – that fit their cultural, religious and dietary restrictions and preferences.
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Nice effort! Maine has been a bastion of community cooperation, creative encouragement of, and positive interaction with immigrant communities! Seems like a good model that can be replicated throughout America. Read the full article at the link!
Due Process Forever!