During the months of June and July, employees from Camden National Bank are delivering donations totaling close to $9,000 to 29 food pantries throughout the state of Maine.

Funds for the donations were raised by employees, through the Bank’s employee-run community outreach program, the Community Spirit of Giving, and will help provide meals and support to the more than 208,000 individuals in Maine, who currently turn to food pantries and meal service programs for food assistance every year.

“I am incredibly proud of the ways in which our employees give back to their communities every day,” said Gregory A. Dufour, president and chief executive officer of Camden National Bank, in a news release. “Whether it’s raising money to help prevent hunger in our state or volunteering in their local soup kitchen, their contributions are making a difference in the neighborhoods where we live and work.”

The goal of Camden National’s Community Spirit of Giving program is to make an impact in local communities by providing assistance to underprivileged children and families through work with local food pantries, as well as schools and community leaders, to help prevent hunger.

According to recent numbers provided by the Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine, the program’s current donation will provide 34,800 meals to those facing food insecurity in the state. In addition, as food needs rise for children during the summer months, the funds can be used to support the 85,000 kids in Maine who receive free or reduced school lunch and help ensure they have enough to eat throughout summer vacation.

“With these donations, our employees are supporting the critical services that our state’s food pantries, many staffed solely by volunteers, provide to those in need throughout the year," Dufour said. "Through contributions like these, as well as our ongoing volunteerism, we hope to help these agencies fight this growing trend in our state and ensure that the basic needs are met.”

Complementing Camden National Bank’s philanthropic efforts, the CSOG program was founded in 1991 by employees who wanted to create their own grassroots effort to support local communities and people in need. Over the course of a year, employees create numerous fundraising events, ranging from raffles and bake sales to yard sales and other community events. Proceeds from those activities benefit the program and are used to support the needs of food banks and local food pantries throughout the state.

Data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in September 2015 shows a growing hunger problem in Maine. According to the annual survey, Maine’s food insecurity rate rose from 15.1 percent in 2013 to 16.2 percent in 2014, and Maine now ranks 12th in the nation and first in New England for food insecurity. In addition, USDA estimates that 208,000 individuals in the state are food insecure, with 24 percent, or 64,200, of them children.

For more information on the survey and recent research, or to locate a food pantry, visit the Good Shepherd Food Bank at gsfb.org.