Office of Public Affairs

Food Studies Program hosts first-of-its-kind gubernatorial dialogue on hunger

Gubernatorial candidates Terry Hayes and Betsy Sweet

About 200 people attended a first-of-its-kind dialogue on hunger featuring six candidates for Maine governor.

The Portland Campus event  — hosted by the the University of Southern Maine’s Food Studies Program — spent more than 90 minutes looking at the severity of hunger in Maine, its causes and possible solutions.

Currently, about one-in-seven Mainers live in poverty, the highest rate in New England.

Candidates discussed the role of the government and independent non profit groups, how hunger in Maine is related to the health of the state economy and how other issues such as health care insurance are related.

“I want to look at this at this as an economic development challenge” candidate Terry Hayes said. It’s not only feeding people that meal that’s right in front of them, that immediate meal, but it’s planning for how they are going to eat two years from now. What’s the access going to be?”

The discussion began with an introduction by Michael Hillard, a professor of Economics and director of the Food Studies Program. Questions were asked by Food Studies students.

All official candidates for governor — Republicans, Democrats and Independents — were invited to join the non partisan dialogue. The six were present: Kenneth Capron, Alan Caron, Donna Dion, Mark Dion, Hayes and Betsy Sweet.

The forum was co-hosted by the Cumberland County Food Security Council, Preble Street and the Good Shepherd Food Bank.