BANGOR, Maine — While many think hunger occurs only in third-world countries, it is happening right in our backyards. Approximately 208,000 Mainers — that’s 16.2 percent of the state’s residents — are food insecure, meaning they have difficulties affording quality food and sometimes have to skip meals, according to USDA data.

These issues and more are what Good Shepherd Food Bank President Kristen Miale will address in a speech Wednesday, May 31, at the Bangor Public Library. She is the featured speaker for the next Dirigo Speaks event, presented by the Bangor Daily News and sponsored by AARP Maine. The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to submit questions online or during the Q&A portion of the event.

This event will allow people to learn more about the Good Shepherd Food Bank and its impact on Maine. Good Shepherd Food Bank distributes more than 15 million pounds of food to needy people in the state in coordination with over 400 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, schools and various other programs in the United States, according to their website.

With May being Older Americans Month, Miale will be focusing on food issues that may affect the elderly. This year’s Older Americans Month theme is “Age Out Loud.” Miale will explain how a donation to the Good Shepherd Food Bank is an investment in the education and health of residents in need. There are locations in Hampden, Brewer and Auburn.

Before becoming president of the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Miale was the founder and program director of Cooking Matters Maine. This local chapter of Share Our Strength provided positive nutritional methods for low-income families. Miale served on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine and the Cumberland County Extension Association. She has a master’s degree in business administration from Boston University.

Kelly Donnelly, events coordinator for the Bangor Daily News, said this event is an opportunity for Maine residents to learn more about Good Shepherd Food Bank, and how they can get involved.

“I think it just gives them access to people, like Kristine, who they normally wouldn’t talk to on the street maybe. This allows them to have this connection to her, and what Good Shepherd is doing, and how they may be able to help get more involved in their town and community,” said Donnelly.

Dirigo Speaks is a speaker series sponsored by AARP Maine and organized by the Bangor Daily News. The First National Bank also sponsors this event. Sen. Susan Collins and former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell spoke in last year’s Dirigo Speaks series.

AARP Maine’s State Director Lori Parham will introduce the event and Kristen Miale. The Q&A portion will be hosted by Bangor Daily News Homestead writers Lauren Abbate and Abigail Curtis.

The event is free for all attendees, but RSVPs are required. RSVPs and questions can be submitted on their Facebook page. Questions can also be emailed to events@bangordailynews.com.