MAINE, Maine — Michael Arell is the music teacher at Veazie Community School and the music director at Saint Mary's Church in Bangor. One day, as Arell was driving to school, he heard facts from Good Shepherd Food Bank through the radio on the number of Mainers who face food insecurity. "Some of the statistics really surprised me, it kind of shocked me!" says Arell.
According to the Good Shepherd Food Banks website, "13.6 percent of Maine households are food insecure – a rate far higher than the national average of 11.7 percent."
Other Maine food insecurity statistics:
- 13.6% of Maine households are considered "food insecure" (about 178,000 people).
- 'Maine rank in the U.S. for food insecurity: 12th
- 1 in 5 Maine children are food insecure
- 16% of Maine seniors are at risk of going hungry
- 10% of Mainers participate in SNAP
- 37% of Maine's food insecure population does not qualify for public assistance.
“1 in 5 children are food insecure, being a teacher that hit close to home," says Arell. Arell decided to use his own talents to help combat the hunger issue in Maine. He recorded a Christmas album with his top 10 songs and will have it up for sale on his website on Thanksgiving day.
Every single dollar he raises with the sale of his Christmas album will go straight to Good Shepherd Food Bank.
"The fact that you can make a difference, in smaller ways. I think a lot of us, we have the tendency to hope that someone else can take care, and we see something and say 'oh isn't that terrible, I wish I could do something' and I think we are that someone, we are the person that needs to make a small contribution. I knew I couldn't write a check for a million dollars, but I knew I could do something and I could spread the word and use my talents for good," says Arell.
Arell tells NEWS CENTER Maine the school and church canceled its annual holiday end-of-year concerts so he decided to instead do his own little performance for everyone through this album.
"Every dollar they raise can provide three meals for somebody, so you think about that and how efficient that is, for one album the average price of an album is ten dollars, for one album you can provide thirty meals, so its really an incredible difference you can make with a small amount of effort really," says Arell.
The Christmas $10 album will be available on Thursday, November 26 at www.michaelarell.com, and will stay there permanently for people to support his effort to help the food bank. The album will also be available in any music service online, like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and stream it through there.