Food Distributor Ends Business with Millinocket Food Pantry 

A Millinocket food bank has been cut off by one of its distributors. It’s an operation that has been helping more families than ever due to the recent mill closures.A few weeks ago, The I Care Ministries Food Pantry received a letter from Good Shepherd Food Bank. It said they were ending their partnership based on a breach in their membership agreement. The letter claimed I Care was restricting who they serve based on religion.”It never was verified. No one contacted me to say is this really true and now it is where it is,” said Pastor Herschel Hafford.Hafford runs the pantry out of his non-denominational church. He says he does ask his patrons if they’d like a bible and a devotional guide, but if they choose not to accept either, he still gives them the food they need.”I’d have to come here a couple times when I really needed help and he was nothing but gracious about it. I was never forced with religion or any form of it unless I requested it,” said Peter Haines, who has been a patron at the food pantry before.Hafford says he recently talked with the food bank about their costs, but CEO Rick Small says Good Shepherd’s decision had nothing to do with those conversations.In a statement, Small said, “Maintaining compliance with our agency contract is an important factor in making sure our resources are used in the best manner possible. Good Shepherd Food-Bank has been providing food to families at risk of hunger in the Millinocket area for over 12 years and we are committed to continuing to serve the region.”Good Shepherd plans to work with other area food pantries. Meanwhile, Hafford says despite this setback, he’s not worried that his pantry will have to shut down.”It didn’t depend on Good Shepherd to start and it won’t depend on Good Shepherd to continue,” he said.I Care Ministries has received donations from other food banks who want to help out. Hafford is also searching for other distributors to work with so the food pantry can stay open.