How a venerable soup kitchen in Portland, Maine, kept feeding the hungry as Covid-19 ravaged the city

In March 2020, Covid-19 forced the Preble Street soup kitchen in Portland, Maine, to close its dining room for the first time in 39 years. But, as Christian Letourneau reports in FERN's latest story, published with Eater, the soup kitchen staff went mobile, tracking and delivering meals and other services to the growing ranks of the hungry and homeless who scattered across the city as shelters and other aid operations shut down or restricted access. (No paywall)

With new bill, Pingree positions farming as a climate solution

The debate about how to address climate change hasn't always portrayed agriculture as a tool for mitigating the effects of excess carbon in the atmosphere. But a new bill introduced Wednesday by Rep. Chellie Pingree brings farming into the climate spotlight with an ambitious goal of reaching net zero emissions in the agriculture sector by 2040.

USDA again rejects Maine request to limit food stamp purchases

Maine Gov. Paul LePage said it was “extremely disappointing” that the USDA denied his request to ban the purchase of candy and sugary drinks with food stamps on grounds it would help prevent obesity, reported the Bangor Daily News.

USDA approves two-year Arizona test against food-stamp trafficking

Three days after offering states more latitude in running the food stamp program, the Agriculture Department approved a two-year test in Arizona to reduce trafficking of benefits. The waiver could be the first in a series; Maine, for example, wants to bar purchase of candy and sugary beverages, including soda, through the anti-hunger program.

Pingree mulls run for governor of Maine

Fifth-term Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine, a leading advocate in the House for small farmers and farmers’ markets, is considering a run for governor of Maine in 2018, says the Portland Press Herald.

Women break into Maine’s mostly male lobster fleet

More women are joining Maine’s lobster fleet, breaking down the old stereotype that women are just the fisherman’s wife. Last year, women held 434 of the state's 5,500-plus lobster licenses, hauling in a catch so physically demanding it has long been considered man's work, says NPR.

Rush to fill global demand for sushi eels led to major smuggling racket in Northeast

In 2010, the contraction of stressed eel fisheries in Europe and Japan touched off a gold rush for U.S. eels, and led to a multi-state smuggling effort that has produced 11 guilty pleas and is still unwinding in the courts, according to the latest story from The Food & Environment Reporting Network, in partnership with National Geographic.

Maine governor is hopeful Trump agrees on soda, candy and food stamps

The Obama administration gave a cold shoulder to Gov. Paul LePage's proposal to bar Mainers from spending food stamps on soda and candy. LePage "is optimistic the new administration will approve his revived proposal," says The Associated Press, adding that lawmakers in Tennessee and Alabama are pursuing the same idea.

New fishing net could help save Maine’s cod

Fishermen in Maine are experimenting with a new kind of trawl net that catches ample flatfish like flounder and sole, but leaves the plummeting cod population alone, says NPR. New Englanders once claimed they could walk across the water on the backs of cod, because they were so plentiful. But the fish is now struggling after decades of overfishing and rising water temperatures. Fishermen who catch them accidentally as bycatch are dinged by a quota manager.

Northeast fishermen face their worst foe yet: climate change

With lucrative species like clams and lobsters moving northward to find cooler waters, climate change could be the final blow for East Coast fishermen, says The Associated Press. The industry has already been battered by overfishing, pollution, regulations, and foreign competition, but climate change is another level of challenge altogether.