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 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.
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, Bath Housing Authority, and many others. 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 Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program is to provide hungry people with access to healthy food,” says Ethan Minton, Program Director of Mid Coast 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 11,700 meals. In 2017, we surpassed this milestone and gleaned over 22,000 pounds of healthy, market-quality food that was supplied to residents of MidCoast Maine. 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, from 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 and our Gleaning FAQ!
*If you would like to invite the Merrymeeting Gleaners to your farm or would like to volunteer as a gleaner, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
in the news
- Laura McClandlish explores her views and experiences with gleaning and mentions MFC and the Merrymeeting Gleaners in this Portland Press Herald Article.
- Times Record - Food pantries benefit from local gleaning - Douglas McIntire.
Dave Seddon - Maine Farm to Sea Cooperative
Deborah Goodwin - Bath Community Member
Harriet Van Vleck - MFC Coordinator, Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative
Kelly Davis - Merrymeeting Gleaners Volunteer Coordinator, Master Gardener
Kelsey Keller - AmeriCorps Goodwill VISTA Service Member with Kennebec Estuary Land Trust
Lynne Holland - University of ME Cooperative Extension, MFC Steering Committee chair
Marie Goodman - Bath Housing
Mary Turner - Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program
Michelle Rines - Woolwich/Bath community, Master Gardener, Merrymeeting Gleaners
Rebecca McConnaughey - Master Gardener, Merrymeeting Gleaners
Tasha Gerken* - University of New England, Maine SNAP-Ed, MFC Steering Committee
Vicki Skydell - Slow Money Maine, MFC Steering Committee
Zach Herbert - Bowdoin College Student, Gleaning Distribution Coordinator
*work group lead