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March 7, 2024

Good Shepherd Food Bank president will be invited guest at Biden's State of the Union speech

File photo
Heather Paquette

When President Joe Biden gives his State of the Union speech Thursday night at the U.S. Capitol, Good Shepherd Food Bank President Heather Paquette will be in attendance. 

She's the invited guest of U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine 1st District.

In an announcement Wednesday, Pingree championed Paquette as the ideal attendee.

“Anyone who has been in a grocery store lately has seen how big food companies are squeezing consumers by shrinking the size of their products while keeping their prices high,” Pingree said.

“I applaud President Biden’s efforts to combat ‘shrinkflation’ greed because hunger spikes when meals aren’t affordable, and food banks like Good Shepherd Food Bank have to lend additional support.”

She also noted that as a member of the House Appropriations and Agriculture committees, she has long fought against Republicans’ “cruel cuts” to critical nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

"I am grateful Heather will be alongside me to hear from President Biden about his continued work to curb hunger nationwide,” Pingree said.

Hunger 'a daily reality' in Maine 

Biden, who is running for reelection against former President Donald Trump, is scheduled to speak starting at 9 p.m. EST. The Democratic incumbent will be addressing Congress — and the nation — just two days after the Super Tuesday primary elections in more than a dozen states and one territory. Biden is widely expected to address worries about his age and vitality.

Paquette, a former Hannaford Supermarkets executive who succeeded Kristen Miale as Good Shepherd’s president last year, said she is honored to represent Maine, where one in seven children are faced with food insecurity, at tonight's event.

“The issue of hunger is not just a statistic. It’s a daily reality for far too many families,” she said. “With every increase in the cost of living, we see a corresponding rise in the demand on the charitable food network. These programs are lifelines for many Mainers, providing essential support to vulnerable populations, including children, older Mainers and individuals who may not know where their next meal is coming from. 

“Together, we must continue to prioritize policies that ensure access to nutritious food for all Mainers, regardless of their economic circumstances,” she added. “I look forward to hearing President Biden’s plans to combat hunger nationwide and to working collaboratively to create a brighter, more food-secure future for Maine and beyond.”

Members of Congress are permitted one guest to attend the annual presidential address in the House Chamber.

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