The Bolduc Correctional Facility and AIO Food & Energy recently expanded their collaborative partnership to include freshly baked bread and other bakery treats.

Over the past two years, The Bolduc Correction Facility has provided a steer — butchered and packaged at Curtis Custom Meats — and hundreds of pounds of fresh produce grown on their farm. Now, Bolduc is baking fresh bread to be delivered to AIO’s food pantry market each week.

In a recent meeting with teams from AIO and The Maine Department of Corrections, more collaborations for the coming year were discussed. Attending the conference hosted at the new AIO facility in Rockland were Maine Department of Corrections Commissioner Randall Liberty, AIO Executive Director Joe Ryan and AIO Market Director Robert Holloway.

“The Maine Department of Corrections is pleased to partner with AIO to support our communities,” Liberty said. “Our recent tour of the AIO was confirmation of the tremendous work that is being performed by Team AIO. I believe we all have a duty to identify the unmet needs of fellow Mainers and address those needs. AIO is an example of what is possible when good people work together to achieve a goal. Collectively, we can accomplish much.”

“We are so proud to build on the success of this partnership,” Ryan said. “Four-hundred pounds of locally raised and processed ground beef last winter demonstrated the profound impact of our collaboration. The addition of the garden project and now fresh baked goods elevates the quality of the food we provide. However, the impact goes far beyond food.”

Since opening a new facility in 2020, AIO Food & Energy Assistance has been changing the model and perceptions of food pantries. Offering a “shopping experience” and high-quality, locally sourced food, this model aims to provide food assistance for a broader segment of our community.

Specifically, AIO’s enrollment guidelines are 185% of Maine’s poverty line. For example, a family of five with an annual household income of just over $57,000 is qualified to enroll. The AIO concept is by being the conduit for sharing locally sourced food with those who need a little help, families can use the money they save on groceries to pay other living expenses, such as heating costs, rent, and childcare.

Local businesses support the “community food network” concept.

Beyond the prison walls, there is an entire community network ready and willing to contribute to the community food network. The concept is simple, and one most of us learned in pre-school: Sharing. If local businesses share what they can to help those who struggle to make ends meet, everybody benefits. More families stay out of severe poverty. More customers are provided with high-quality goods that are produced locally. More friends and neighbors are inspired to join in the sharing culture. More food is made available to share, and even more families are helped.