The New Hampshire Food Bank will eliminate shared maintenance fees as of June 1, accomplishing a long-time goal that will save NH's soup kitchens, food pantries, emergency shelters, family crisis centers and after-school programs a combined $400,000 each year, allowing agencies to better focus on meeting their communities’ needs.
The NH Food Bank, like all Feeding America food banks, charges its partner agencies a per-pound fee to cover the cost of warehousing and distributing food, called shared maintenance fees. Feeding America sets the fee, which currently stands at 19 cents per pound, though the NH Food Bank has always charged less than the maximum and was most recently charging nine cents per pound. As the fee is assessed on a per pound basis, many agencies were paying approximately $500 per month on average in fees.
“Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of so many donors, we are beyond thrilled to permanently eliminate shared maintenance fees. We have been working toward this goal for years and we are extremely pleased to see it come to fruition,” said Eileen Liponis, executive director of the Food Bank, which is a program of Catholic Charities NH. “Particularly as families and individuals have felt the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year, it is our hope removing shared maintenance fees will allow organizations to enhance operations, better serve those in need in their communities, and ultimately help us all move closer toward our goal of eliminating hunger in New Hampshire.”
The Food Bank delivers food to more than 400 partner agencies throughout the state. Partner agencies include food pantries, neighborhood centers, low-income housing sites, senior nutrition centers, family crisis centers, hospices, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after school programs, and daycare centers. In 2017, the NH Food Bank received a $1 million anonymous donation, of which the NH Food Bank used $800,000 to reduce shared maintenance fees over a four-year period to nine cents per pound from 2017 to 2020.
Food Bank partner agencies voiced their support and gratitude for the elimination of the fee. “We are so pleased the New Hampshire Food Bank is able to eliminate the shared maintenance fees. These savings will allow the Family Resource Center additional funds to provide families with telephone minutes, transportation and other necessities not currently funded within our programs,” said Lucie Remillard, director of administration at the Family Resource Center in Gorham.
“Families in Transition will be able to utilize the removal of this fee to help support our food programming, both internally, as well as at our food pantry that serves over 300 families every year,” said Maria Devlin, president and CEO of Families in Transition in Manchester.
“Eliminating the shared maintenance fees to participating agencies would be very beneficial to our agency,” said Bradley Eldrige of the Errol Community Food Pantry. “We are very rural and travel 30-plus miles for pick up of food, which is an added cost. All of our funds to operate come from private donations, so this will be a great help.”
Melissa Baxter, Jill Iwicki, Lyn Kipp and Jenn Morton, who are program Coordinators at End 68 Hours of Hunger in Nashua echoed their gratitude.
“The Lancaster food pantry works on donations only and with everything going on, they have been slow in coming, so not having to pay the shared maintenance fees on our orders will help tremendously and I will be able to help feed more people,” said Donna Woods of the Lancaster Community Cupboard.
“With the end of shared maintenance fees, we will have the funds to be able to source even more food from local farms and distributors on the Seacoast,” said Seneca Bernard, associate executive drector of Gather in Portsmouth.
Daisy Blaisdell, president of the board at Twin Rivers Interfaith Food Pantry in Franklin, said, “This move clearly conveys the New Hampshire Food Bank's incredible respect and support for the efforts of its member agencies, as they strive to address the magnitude of need in this state. We are so grateful.”
“The Community Kitchen has known the removal of the shared maintenance fees has been a long-time goal of the New Hampshire Food Bank. The removal of a fee can only be a good thing for small, donation-funded nonprofits serving the food insecure of the state,” said Phoebe Bray, executive director of The Community Kitchen in Keene.
During 2020, the Food Bank distributed more than 17 million pounds of food to its partner agencies. This year, because of the growing demand, the Food Bank expects to continue increasing food distribution.
For more information and to donate, visit www.nhfoodbank.org.