The Food Security work group aims to fulfill MFC's vision of increasing access to healthy food for all. The focus thus far has been on increasing access through food recovery. In the near future, the Food Security work group plans to identify additional ways of addressing the high rates of food insecurity in our region.
The Food Security work group aims to:
increase access to healthy food for all;
increase awareness about food insecurity in our communities;
include food insecure individuals in our planning to ensure that their needs are being addressed;
and act as a brainstorming group which facilitates problem solving and support projects and/or programs that address food insecurity issues in our region.
The Merrymeeting Gleaners began in 2016 as a pilot project of MFC's Food Security work group and with the support of Bowdoin College, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension Office for Sagadahoc and Androscoggin Counties, Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, the Forest Foundation, and many other partners. This program supports a regional network of existing food security organizations.
Gleaning redirects surplus and “ugly” food products to food security organizations, by working with local farms and food producers to take excess food from the fields or farmers’ markets and delivering that food to local food pantries, soup kitchens, Head Start and WIC programs, and low-income housing communities. In 2017, twenty-one organizations receive the gleaned produce in towns and cities all around the Merrymeeting Bay region including: Topsham, Richmond, Bowdoinham, Brunswick, Bath, and others. “Part of the mission of Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program is to provide hungry people with access to healthy food,” says Ethan Minton, Program Director of Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program. “The generous support of local farmers goes a long way toward making this happen. Now, with the addition of the fresh produce we’re receiving from the new gleaning program, we can make even more available to our neighbors in need.” Our Gleaners are all volunteers who are now harvesting produce five days a week.
As a pilot project in 2016, we gleaned about 14,000 pounds of produce, the rough equivalent of 17,000 meals. By early October 2017, we have nearly reached this milestone and are on track to double – at least – that amount of healthy, market-quality food that we supply to residents of MidCoast Maine by the end of the year. Gleaners visit Six River Farm in Bowdoinham, Goranson Farm in Dresden, Scatter Good Farm in Brunswick, and the Bath Farmers’ Market every week as long as there is produce to glean. “We've been very happy with the development of the gleaning program and are very appreciative of all the volunteers hard work,” says Nate Drummond, a farmer at Six River Farm. “It's wonderful to see excess produce from our farm being harvested for those in need.” Some of the most commonly gleaned foods have been chard, kale, spinach, bok choy, eggplant, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini. One time gleaning events such as our apple glean at Rocky Ridge Orchard in Bowdoin are a great way to get involved...check out this video!
If you would like to invite the Merrymeeting Gleaners to your farm, are interested in donations to your food pantry, or would like to volunteer as a gleaner, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Merrymeeting Gleaners in the News:
Times Record- Food pantries benefit from local gleaning - Douglas McIntire
The Food Security work group meets from 4-5:30 on the first Thursday of the month at varying locations.
If you are interested in being involved with the Food Security group, please email email@example.com.
Tasha Gerken- University of New England, work group lead
Dave Seddon- Maine Farm to Sea Cooperative
Deborah Goodwin- Bath Community Member
Harriet Van Vleck- Merrymeeting Food Council Coordinator
Kathie Duncan- Master Gardener
Kelly Davis- Gleaning Coordinator, Master Gardener
Kelsey Keller- AmeriCorps Goodwill VISTA Service Member with Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
Lara Cogar- Lincoln County SNAP
Lee Cataldo- Merrymeeting Food Council Chair, Brunswick-Topsham Land trust
Lynne Holland- ME Cooperative Extension, Merrymeeting Food Council Steering Committee member
Marie Goodman- Bath Housing
Marissa Rublee- Access Health
Mary Turner- Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program
Michelle Rines- Master Gardener
Rebecca McConnaughey- Master Gardener
Sean Marlin- Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program
Sue Elsaesser- Brunswick Community Member
Vicki Skydell- Slow Money Maine, Merrymeeting Food Council Steering Committee Member
Zach Herbert- Bowdoin College Student, Gleaning Distribution Coordinator