This morning, we held a panel discussion on Food Insecurity and Minimum Wage at the Bangor Public Library. The panel shared stories of the effects of food insecurity, hunger, SNAP (food stamps), minimum wage. Here are some highlights:
img_7544Chris Hastedt, Public Policy Director at Maine Equal Justice Partners:

  • From 2011 to 2016, Maine has had the biggest drop in SNAP users of any state, although food insecurity has increased in Maine while improving in every other state. Maine went from 12th worst for food insecurity to 9th worse, and we are 3rd in the nation for very low food security, which is defined as food insecurity with hunger.
  • The current state administration has instituted policies that negatively affect families receiving SNAP, some of which include the asset test targeting seniors and the disabled; refusal of the waivers available for the 3 month requirement, impacting those who are unable to find a job after 3 months; and the photo ID requirement, requiring travel to a DHHS office for all, impacting the disabled, seniors and those who cannot afford transportation.
  • DHHS offices are severely understaffed and overloaded with cases, extra paperwork because of the requirements placed on SNAP recipients, and changes in systems.


Nicole Hoad, mother, SNAP recipient, minimum wage worker: img_7539

  • Her family lost SNAP benefits when her husband got a small raise. Because his income fluctuates due to commission, she has to regularly provide documentation of income to DHHS, and their eligibility for SNAP is not steady.
  • Nicole has received conflicting information from different DHHS employees directly impacting their benefits. She has had paperwork lost by DHHS and had to provide them with multiple copies, and had difficulty contacting them by phone with very long hold/wait times. DHHS employees have treated her with judgment and disrespect.
  • Nicole has had to take a job in order to feed her family after SNAP was cut. It is very important to Nicole and her husband that one of them is present to care for their two year old, and they do not want to place their child in full time day care. Despite having a college degree, Nicole was forced to take a minimum wage job – the only job that fit with her schedule.


img_7556Carmine Leighton, local restaurant worker:

  • Discussed the struggle on a day to day basis on how to pay bills when you work for minimum wage. When you’re working paycheck to paycheck, and unforeseen expenses come up, there is no way to get caught up, let alone get ahead. She was not able to afford to eat at the restaurant where she worked.
  • Those working minimum wage jobs are a diverse crowd – restaurant workers and wait staff, home care workers, retail, people with a felony in their past that are excluded from many other jobs for which they may otherwise qualify, students, those recovering from a layoff, and more.
  • Carmine has a college degree and is currently working on her masters; do not judge people making minimum wage, because you do not know their story.
  • Working for minimum wage is just survival; it’s not living.


Katie Corlew, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Maine at Augusta: img_7549

  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says that the very basic needs of food (etc.) must be met before any other needs can be fulfilled. If you’re hungry, you are not able to reach your full human potential.
  • Hunger – malnutrition / lack of calories, and/or obesity / lack of healthy calories – causes long-term effects on the neurological brain development of children.
  • Food insecurity adds extra stress to whatever other stress people feel, which can have negative health effects.


img_7552Rev. Dr. Mark Doty, Sr. Pastor at Hammond Street Congregational Church, Food AND Medicine Board member, and steering committee member of Faith Linking in Action:

  • Explained some of his work with Faith Linking in Action and Food AND Medicine, looking upstream at the root causes of hunger.
  • Discussed how personal his work is with the Ecumenical Food Pantry at the Hammond Street Congregational Church, and how food is a basic human right.


Sarah Austin, Policy Analyst for Maine Center for Economic Policy: img_7559

  • Minimum Wage increase affects not only those making minimum wage, but the many workers  making just above. Sarah discussed other impacts of the minimum wage on Mainers.
  • 1 in 5 Maine workers live in poverty
  • 1 in 3 Maine workers will benefit from the minimum wage increase
  • 65,000 children have at least one parent who will benefit from the minimum wage increase.


img_7561Rev. Dr. Sue Davies, member of the International Economic and Ecological Justice Movement Oiko Tree:

  • Tied all of today’s speakers to the fact that food is a basic human right.
  • Gave a few passages related justice, and explained that the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all call for justice.
  • We have an obligation to ensure that we help the poor, the oppressed and the less fortunate.


img_7565 WABI TV5 / CBS

Food Insecurity and Wages Panel Discussion

October 18, 2016

We’re co-sponsoring a panel discussion on Food Insecurity and Minimum Wage, Wednesday 10/19/16 at the Bangor Public Library from 9:30 – 11 AM. There will be a number of speakers, followed by a Question and Answer session. Scheduled to speak: Jack McKay, Director of Food AND Medicine and President of the Eastern Maine Labor Council […]

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October 2016 Events

October 7, 2016

We’ve got some exciting events planned for October: Ride the Bus! Month Proclamation Acceptance Wednesday, October 12, 7:30-8:00 PM, in the City Council Chambers, Bangor City Hall, 73 Harlow St Our Transportation for All (TFA) team is asking for support to join them to accept a Proclamation from the Bangor City Council declaring November “Ride […]

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Great turnout for our 13th annual Labor Day Celebration!

September 9, 2016

Over 150 people turned out for our 13th annual Labor Day Celebration on Monday 9/5/16, co-sponsored by the Eastern Maine Labor Council. We had perfect weather, great food and terrific live music. But more importantly, we had a lot of working people show their solidarity. Several local legislators and candidates were in attendance, as well […]

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13th Annual Labor Day Celebration

August 19, 2016

Eastern Maine Labor Council and Food AND Medicine are hosting their 13th annual Labor Day celebration of the working people of Eastern Maine, Monday, September 5th here at the Solidarity Center in Brewer. Join us for live music, local food and family fun. Suggested donation of $5 per person and kids under 12 are free. Proceeds […]

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Item List for 2016 Solidarity Harvest Benefit Auction

August 10, 2016

Saturday, August 13 – doors open at 4 PM, auction begins at 5 PM. Items are still coming in! List subject to change. Please RSVP to attend the auction – call 207-989-5860 or email Something for everyone! ***Just added on Friday: a generous donor has offered to transfer ownership of a one week timeshare […]

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Solidarity Harvest Fundraising Auction to be held Saturday, August 13, 2016.

July 19, 2016

Preparations are well underway for the 14th annual Solidarity Harvest! We will be holding an auction fundraiser, here at the Solidarity Center on Saturday, August 13, 2016 at 5:00 PM. Doors will open at 4:00 to preview items. Solidarity Harvest is a program we wish we didn’t need to continue, but the need is growing […]

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Great turnout for the 2016 Election Forum!

June 8, 2016

The 2016 Election Forum on Monday 6/6/16 was a big success, co-sponsored by Food AND Medicine, Eastern Maine Labor Council, Maine AFL-CIO and Maine People’s Alliance – what a great turn out! We focused on the minimum wage and Stand Up for Students referendums which will both be on Maine’s ballot in November. Thanks to […]

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2016 Election Forum, Monday June 6

June 3, 2016

Food AND Medicine is co-sponsoring a 2016 Election forum – Monday night 6/6 – at 6:00 we’ll have some food and the forum starts at 6:30. It will be held here at the Solidarity Center, 20 Ivers Street in Brewer. We will focus on the ground-breaking minimum wage referendum, the Stand Up for Students referendum as […]

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Girls’ Day Out, Saturday May 21st

May 20, 2016

Food AND Medicine is proud to partner with Columbia Street Project as co-sponsor of Girls’ Day Out, an outreach and resource fair for women, Saturday 5/21/16, from 10 am to 3 pm at the Columbia Street Project, 45 Columbia Street, Bangor. The event will include a number of vendor tables, nonprofits serving women in the […]

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