AUBURN — News that Shaw’s Supermarkets had reversed its decision to discontinue donations to a Brunswick-area food bank earlier this week had officials at the Good Shepherd Food Bank in Auburn hopeful the grocer would reinstate donations statewide.

When Shaw’s discontinued donations of perishable foods that were near their expiration dates in 2013, the impact on Good Shepherd was the loss of about 400,000 pounds of food per year, according to Good Shepherd’s spokeswoman, Clara Whitney. Whitney said 2014 was the year the food pantry felt the loss of Shaw’s donations the most.

She said over time food procurement specialists at the food bank, who help stock the shelves of community food pantries statewide, were able to find donations to help fill the gap.

But Whitney also said that meat donations, which were a big part of the donations from Shaw’s, are always a challenge for the food bank.

Increasing demand also compounded the loss. Whitney said she didn’t want to criticize Shaw’s for its decision and noted the grocer was a big donor to the food bank for a long time, and the agency was grateful for that.

“But, of course, we hope they would reinstate their donations statewide,” Whitney said.

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U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, had contacted Shaw’s executives and asked them to reconsider their decision involving the Brunswick Shaw’s and its donations to the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program.

The company decided it would continue its donations in Brunswick. But Pingree, in a statement Thursday thanking Shaw’s for reconsidering its decision, said she was also hoping to learn more about why Shaw’s was not reinstating its donations in other parts of the state.

“There are a lot of other hunger programs around the state that could benefit from donated food from Shaw’s Supermarkets,” Pingree said in a prepared statement.

Pingree is the author of a federal bill, the Food Recovery Act, aimed at reducing food waste and promoting the recovery of food that could be salvaged.

According to a release from Pingree’s office, an estimated 40 percent of food produced every year in the U.S. is wasted, while “nearly 50 million people struggle with hunger.”

Pingree said if food waste is reduced by just 15 percent and good-quality, wholesome food is redirected to people in need, the number of hungry Americans could be cut in half.

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