AUBURN, Maine — Rick Small, who has served as president and chief executive officer of Good Shepherd Food-Bank in Auburn, the state’s largest hunger relief network, has submitted his resignation.
Small came under fire earlier this year when several nonprofit food cupboard operators complained about the high fees Good Shepherd charged them for products the food bank purchased with donated funds.
But that dispute had nothing to do with Small’s resignation, according to Clara McConnell, Good Shepherd’s spokeswoman. “He has been here for 5½ years and led the organization through the most significant phase of growth that it has ever seen and he’s ready to move on to his next challenge,” she said Tuesday.
The food bank’s board of directors accepted his resignation effective at the end of the year. McConnell said a nationwide search is currently under way for a new chief executive officer.
Small, who was on vacation Tuesday, could not be reached for comment. But in a press release, he said, “I will be leaving Good Shepherd Food-Bank to utilize my skills and abilities in another substantial challenge to round out my career. The food bank will always remain close to my heart and I will support this great organization in all ways that are possible.”
During Small’s tenure the amount of food the food bank acquired and distributed to 600
partner agencies throughout Maine has grown from nearly 9 million pounds a year to
just under 13 million pounds, McConnell said.
Small, who earned more than $70,000 a year as CEO, was taken to task earlier this year for the shared maintenance fees of up to $2 a pound for some products purchased by the food bank to offset the significant loss of salvage goods. Some nonprofit organizations said the fees are jeopardizing their continued existence.
Those higher fees were needed, McConnell said earlier this year, to help cover the food bank’s transportation, warehouse costs and salaries. To compensate for the loss of salvage products discarded by businesses, the food bank purchases products wholesale and provides them to food pantries for a fee.
The problem, say food pantry managers, is that the maintenance fee in some cases averages as much as $2 a pound. While Good Shepherd recoups some of its costs, under the food bank’s rules the local pantries are not allowed to charge a fee, nor can they have a donation jar.