Merrymeeting Food Council Summer Update

Network Building & Food System Support

To fulfill our aim of bringing partners and community together to discuss pressing issues facing the food system in our region, MFC plans to host a few community conversations each year.

In June, we held our first community conversation focused on barriers to food access and wellness in our region with MFC and partners from Mid Coast Hospital, Harpswell Aging at Home, and Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program presenting and discussing how to support our communities. Read a recap and see the presentations...

Our next community conversation, in early winter, will focus on ways to address the labor challenge faced by many farms in our region. If you would like to be involved in planning, please reach out! To put the local farm labor discussion in a statewide context, here are two Maine Calling pieces that aired on MPR earlier this summer. The first is with Commissioner Laura Fortman from the Maine Department of Labor, and in the second piece you can hear about the workforce shortage from a broader panel. MFC would love to hear from you! What innovative ideas do you think might work in our region?

If you have a topic you would like to see as the focus of a conversation, please reach out!

Food Access & Health

As part of MFC’s work to increase access to healthy local produce for all in our region, MFC has created Community Nutrition Resource Guides for all 14 of our communities! They are available for free on our website and we are counting on our network to help spread the word about these guides. They will be updated regularly so please check back for the latest versions and let us know if you see any updates needed or missing information.

MFC’s Merrymeeting Gleaners and SNAP-Ed worked together to finalize a booklet of recipes and storage information for 50 types of commonly gleaned fruits and vegetables. Download the KNOW YOUR VEGGIES! booklet.

One outcome of our community food access work over the past year was the recognition that there are communities in our region interested in starting or adding community meals. These are a simple way of building community and increasing access to healthy foods for all residents whether the barrier is transportation, time, or finances. MFC is supporting the development of a monthly Sunday Brunch by residents in Bowdoinham, with the first meal to be held Sunday, October 6th! MFC is happy to help convene residents of other communities interested in starting their own community meal program and can share ideas from Harpswell Aging at Home’s Lunch with Friends model for inspiration!

You can also catch up on more news from MFC’s Merrymeeting Gleaners, MFC Partner Updates and Food System News!

Let us know how you would like to see our local and statewide food system grow? Are there connections you would like to make with other sectors of the food system? Email us with ideas.

Hope you are enjoying these gorgeous late summer days!

Summer Food System News


  • The USDA’s Economic Research Service recently released a report on Household Food Security in the United States in 2018. Read more here.


  • MFC is beginning to look at innovative solutions to the labor challenges faced by local farms and will be hosting a community conversation about this in early winter. If you would like to be involved in planning, please reach out! To put the local labor discussion in a statewide context, here are two Maine Calling pieces that aired on MPR earlier this summer. The first is with Commissioner Laura Fortman from the Maine Department of Labor, and in the second piece you can hear about the workforce shortage from a broader panel. MFC would love to hear from you! What innovative ideas do you think might work in our region?

  • In Unity, Maine Harvest Credit Project has officially been chartered as a new credit union focused on making affordable member business loans to farmers and food producers.

  • Farms and other food system businesses can promote their businesses through the Maine Office of Tourism…learn more here.


  • A report, “Regional Trends in New England Farm to Institution Procurement Policy,” was released in August which provides an overview of policies in place in each New England state which encourage or require institutional purchases of local foods. The report is from the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) at Vermont Law School and Farm to Institution New England (FINE). Read the full report to compare New England state policies or just a snapshot of the Maine Policies.

  • Maine’s DOE opened a new Culinary Classroom in Augusta in September to train and educate food system workers. See a short video about it here. See a schedule of upcoming professional development and training events from DOE here.

  • Maine DOE's Harvest of the Month program for schools was piloted last Spring with 165 schools and the full roll out of the program began this Fall. For more information, contact: Stephanie Stambach, Child Nutrition Consultant (207-624-6732), or visit

  • Read about sourcing of sustainable seafood at two UMaine campuses from GMRI.


  • Learn about the USDA’s proposed changes to the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The public comment period ends on September 23rd. Read the proposed changes and news coverage here.

  • Summer federal policy roundup from the Food Research and Action Center is here.

  • Read about Representative Pingree’s Keep America's Waterfronts Working Act here and learn more through support for the bill from Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association.

  • Existing food system bills and new laws:

    • LD 541: Resolve, To Reduce Food Waste in Schools.

    • LD 497: An Act Regarding the Providing of Human Food Waste to Swine Producers.

    • LD 454: An Act To Encourage the Purchase of Local Produce for Public Schools.

    • LD 786: An Act To Reduce Hunger and Promote Maine Agriculture.

    • LD 1159: Resolve, To End Hunger in Maine by 2030.

  • Food system bills being prepared:

    • LD 1531: An Act To Establish the Maine Food System Investment Program To Create Quality Jobs and Support Farms, Fisheries and Food-related Businesses.

    • LD 1679: An Act To Promote Clean Energy Jobs and To Establish the Maine Climate Council.

    • LD 400: An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue for Food Processing Infrastructure in Targeted Areas of the State.

    • LD 1167: An Act To Increase Consumption of Maine Foods in State Institutions.


  • Learn more in this recent story by Maine Food Strategy about building the story of food system change in Maine. Do you or someone you know have a case study to contribute?

  • Check out Maine Food Strategy’s new website and learn more about their work as a statewide food system planning entity.

  • Interested in how Maine compares to other states in terms of a range of food system characteristics? Check out these two interactive maps: Food Environment Atlas, and Food Access Research Atlas from the USDA - you can select what data you are interested in and view it at the county and census track level respectively.

  • A report on how to shift power dynamics within grassroots work was recently released by the New England Grassroots Environment Fund.


  • Let us know how you would like to see our local and statewide food system grow? Are there connections you would like to make with other sectors of the food system? Email us with ideas.

  • The Maine Food Atlas is ready and waiting for your business information to be entered. 

MFC Partner Summer Updates

Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative:

  • Catch up on the latest from BCDI in their recent newsletter! Note the work on the Farmland Inventory - a local process that can easily be replicated in other communities to connect farmers and landowners.

  • Contact: Ingrid Leschefske or visit

Brunswick Topsham Land Trust: 

  • Tom Settlemire Community Garden Programming:BTLT has worked with Mt. Ararat Middle School, Coffin Elementary School, Perryman Village and Big Brothers Big Sisters to get over 200 area children out to the community garden to plant and harvest vegetables, pick and eat their own foods, and explore and play in the garden and surrounding conserved lands.

  • Perryman Village Education Program: BTLT launched a weekly education program that runs alongside Summer Feed.  BTLT partnered with MCHPP, EFNEP, Casco Bay Dental, ArtVan, Brunswick PD and Perryman Village for the program.

  • Children learned how to cook simple recipes using a solar oven with food from their garden, children have learned how to plant and tend their own gardens, children learning about giving away food to friends and neighbors from their gardens, made bug hotels and so much more!

  • BTLT Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm: BTLT offers farmers' market tours for SNAP families in order to make it easier for families to take advantage of the SNAP incentive program offered at the market by the Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets. BTLT was then able help the Bath Farmers Market SNAP incentive program develop their own farmers' market tour for Bath Food Pantry clients.

  • Curtis Memorial Library and food security groups in Brunswick have been discussing the need for a shareable mobile cooking unit to be used for cooking education. BTLT was able to connect a local property management company with Curtis Memorial Library, leading to the donation of an unused mobile kitchen unit. Curtis Memorial Library and partners are looking for a permanent home for the unit where it could be rented out to community groups offering food and cooking education. If you are interested in using or housing the mobile kitchen, please contact the Merrymeeting Food Council.

  • BTLT Needs Your Input! A building at Brunswick Landing includes space that could be converted into food system resources: commercial kitchen, auction, indoor farmers’ market, food hub, co-op, retail or restaurant…the options are fairly wide open at this point. If you are a food producer or processor looking for some space or shared space, or interested in starting a new enterprise, please contact Merrymeeting Food Council with your interest and ideas.

  • Contact: Jamie Pacheco or visit


Good Food for Bath:

  • Next meeting: 9/30 at KELT’s Office in Bath, 12-1:30, 92 Front Street, 2nd Floor.

Growing to Give:

  • As of 7/30 we are up to 2400 lbs harvested and delivered. Our food is now being harvested and delivered 3 times a week. Mondays, Androscoggin Gleaners deliver to Lisbon Falls, Lewiston and Auburn. Wednesday and Fridays, Merrymeeting Gleaners deliver our food to 10 locations.

  • We have had 2 college interns this summer from Bowdoin College and Bennington College, along with 7 woofers so far, for varying lengths of stay. They have been invaluable along side our regular weekly volunteers keeping ahead of the weeds and multiple tasks that need to be done each week.

  • We hosted a "worksong workshop" with Bennet Konesni and 30 middle schoolers and teachers from Greely Middle school in late May while they planted squash seedlings. We also had 2 high school groups from Maine Coast Waldorf School help prepare beds for planting.

  • We received funding from the Davenport Fund this spring for a wash station for vegetables, and from the Maine Women's Giving Tree to expand our reach to schools to bring more kids out to the farm to learn about farming practices, volunteering and food insecurity.  

  • We are currently seeking funding for a significant expansion for 2020 and one for developing a collaboration with local school groups that would provide cooking classes using a mobile kitchen. We are seeking funding to develop a pumpkin picking garden for low income families to come have an experience at the farm.

  • Steve Minich of Channel 8 in Portland recently aired a short piece about Growing to Give on the 6 o'clock news for the "Community Champion" segment.

  • Contact: Sandi Konta or visit:

Kennebec Estuary Land Trust:

Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0:

  • On August 27th, all three school district nutrition and kitchen staff and directors from MSAD 75, RSU1 and Brunswick, joined forces for a joint training that included a 3 hour workshop from Chef Sam of the Windham Raymond School District. Chef Sam taught the kitchen staff how to incorporate more scratch cooking into their menus, how to make vegetables more fun to eat, and how to partner with and prepare local farm fresh produce.

  • 92% of our 49 sites completed the annual survey for recognition. Of those 68% were recognized by the home office for achieving success in the 5 priority strategies of Let’s Go at Bronze, Silver, or Gold Levels (59% of childcare sites, 100% of Out of School Programs, and 61% of schools).

  • In the spring spring all staff at Brunswick Junior High School (~70 teachers) received a 1 hour training about incorporating physical activity into the classroom.  The new Brunswick Junior High School Principal has asked that the Let’s Go coordinator work closely with her administration to help train staff how to incorporate more physical activity into the school day.

Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association:

Maine Network of Community Food Councils:

  • Resources:

  • MNCFC is made up of representatives from food councils around the state of Maine.

  • A Lead Team was recently formed which includes: Ken Morse from Community Food Matters, Julia Harper from the Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn, Scott Vlaun from the Center for an Ecology-Based Economy and Harriet Van Vleck from the Merrymeeting Food Council.

  • Beginning this summer a statewide group of “Network Weavers”, including representatives from MNCFC, has formed to create conditions for network practitioners to build stronger network mindsets, empower the development of equitable, dynamic movements through networks of networks, and increase access to funding. Current focus is on food systems policy.

  • Contact: or visit:

Maine Food Strategy:


Maine SNAP-Ed:

  • Local Classes, Store Tours & Partnerships:

    • SNAP-Ed, Curtis Memorial Library, and Hannaford have been teaming up to bring 1 hour Store Tours to the Brunswick Hannaford. Tours have been wildly successful and highly attended.

    • SNAP-Ed has also been doing fairly regular Cooking Matters and Ten Tips classes at Curtis Memorial Library. Also great attendance.

    • This fall there will be Cooking Matters for Adults classes at each Bath Housing Site (Moorings, Dike’s Landing, Seacliff and Anchorage).

    • We have a new partnership with The Village Clubhouse in Topsham, Just finished a Ten Tips class and hope to do more programming later. They are also a new distribution site for the Merrymeeting Gleaners!

    • SNAP-Ed creates flyers for Dike Newell and Fisher Mitchell’s Fresh Fruit and Veggie Grant. These are distributed through classrooms and staff are developing new ways to successfully engage and reach parents/caregivers/children with relevant nutrition messages (e.g. recipes, videos, social media, direct education).

    • We work with local food pantries to increase interest in different, healthier items that pantries have a hard time getting people to take (Beans, prunes, dry soup mix, whole wheat pasta products). We will create flyers, conduct food demos and tastings.

    • In partnership with the Mid Coast Hospital system, SNAP-Ed will work as a referral partner for food security screening at Mid Coast, focusing on Maine Care offices.

    • For more information about local classes, contact: Ally Messier.

  • Statewide SNAP-Ed updates:

    • Annual Report and Infographic: The FY2018 Annual Report is complete and can be found on the Maine SNAP-Ed website. The FY2018 Infographic can be found on SNAP-Ed Connection under State Impact Reports.

    • Maine SNAP-Ed and Gleaning Poster Presentation: The team presented a poster at Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) conference in July – sharing the specific ways the SNAP-Ed supports gleaning initiatives across multiple food systems in Maine.

    • FINI Postcard Project: Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets, Maine SNAP-Ed, Maine Farmland Trust and Maine DHHS OFI are collaborating on a FINI Postcard Project. This is the 3 rd time completing this project. The postcards will be sent to SNAP recipients to advertise farmers’ markets and co-ops that accept EBT. This mailing will be paired with social media efforts this summer.

    • Environmental Scan: UMaine Cooperative Extension EFNEP, Maine SNAP-Ed, and Let’s Go! with support from Maine CDC and Maine DHHS OFI are completing an Environmental Scan to highlight the focus areas of each organization and to identify overlap or gaps in service. A document is being created to capture a statewide overview with a goal of completing it in August.

    • Summer Meals Maps: Full Plates Full Potential and Maine SNAP-Ed collaborated on maps to assist food service directors with promoting their summer meal locations. These maps were created by the Maine SNAP-Ed graphic designer, and distributed digitally using social media. There have also been meetings with Lets Go! to discuss other ways to support school food service programs to increase participation in federal food assistance programs.

    • SNAC Initiatives: Our State Nutrition Action Council – comprised of multi-sector state and regional organizations – are working on building collective impact beyond the capacity of a single organization with these initiatives:

      • Support implementation of policies (child nutrition; physical activity; food/beverage access and quality) including evaluation of effectiveness.

      • School meal promotion (reduce stigma, increase quality, CEP, School Breakfast, summer meals).

      • Detailed outcomes and processes will be refined in the coming months.


MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program:

  • MCHPP is partnering with Good Shepherd Food Bank and Mid Coast Hospital to distribute emergency food kits to any patient screening positive during the pilot food security screening at the Brunswick walk-in clinic.

  • MCHPP convenes food pantry leaders regionally through the Food Security Coalition.

  • MCHPP Food Pantry saw a 16% increase in visits during the first six months of 2019 when compared to the first six months of 2018.

  • Mobile Pantries expanded from once monthly in Harpswell to once monthly in Lisbon as well. MCHPP is also providing a mobile pantry to support the New Mainers community at Brunswick Landing.

  • The Backpack Program is currently undergoing a transition to a School Pantry model to provide students with more food and a wider variety of products (including fresh products). This was piloted in spring 2019 and will be rolled out to all 27 sites this fall. 

  • MCHPP providing breakfast, snack, and lunch for ESL classes at Curtis Memorial Library this month. 50 folks showed up on the first day!

  • NOTE: MCHPP is open for emergency food distribution outside of listed pantry hours - i.e. any time staff are there, emergency food is available.

  • Contact: General Info or visit:

Slow Money Maine:

  • Read about the SMM Grain Project (post harvest video here) and more in the summer SMM newsletter!

  • For more information, please visit Upcoming events, back stories, and an ever-changing blog of new and exciting developments in the Maine food sector can also be found here.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension

  • New Workshops, Classes, and Events around aquaculture, agriculture and the Maine Food System listed weekly at our Resource Page.

  • Ongoing events, see their Facebook Page.

Maine Farmers' Needs & Priorities Report

Results from a statewide needs assessment of Maine farmers are shared in this full report and summary. The information presented in the report reflects the results from a statewide engagement process designed to identify and explore farmers’ needs and priorities in order to elevate these needs and priorities to the attention of decision-makers and agriculture service providers. You can get in contact about the report at  


An important note from the cohort that developed the report: 

The data contained in this report are the direct feedback of participants engaged in a statewide outreach process carried out between August 2018 and January 2019 that was designed to gather input on the needs and priorities of Maine farmers. The framework of those discussions and this report was organized in accordance with the 2013 Strategic Plan of the Agricultural Council of Maine (AGCOM). Information in the report is strictly data with minimal interpretation. The next step in this initiative is for industry representatives to review the report, to identify themes that are representative of and broadly applicable to Maine’s diverse farming community, and to prioritize action items relevant to economic sustainability. Once identified, these unifying themes can serve as the basis for further program and policy development work that benefits Maine farms and businesses.

Merrymeeting Gleaners Summer Update

Celebrating 100,000 lbs and the community built with Merrymeeting Gleaners volunteers, representatives of recipient sites and farmers. Volunteers organized a CSA share donation to thank Gleaning Coordinator, Kelly Davis, for all of her tremendous work.

Celebrating 100,000 lbs and the community built with Merrymeeting Gleaners volunteers, representatives of recipient sites and farmers. Volunteers organized a CSA share donation to thank Gleaning Coordinator, Kelly Davis, for all of her tremendous work.


  • Know Your Veggies: The gleaners wrapped up a project with SNAP-ED to develop a booklet called "Know Your Veggies". This booklet is a tool to help people receiving the gleaned produce to know how to identify it, store it, cook it, etc. The booklet has been distributed to the organizations that receive the produce. It is also available for free to download here.

  • Sharing Tables: There are now SIX sharing tables set up on a weekly basis (Arrowsic, Bath, Brunswick, Bowdoin, Harpswell, Topsham). We have a team of Sharing Table volunteers that are take care of the set up and break down each week. We are using a check mark system at each of the tables to track the number of users while still keeping it anonymous. 

  • Gleaning: In July, the gleaners passed 100,000 pounds of produce donated since 2016. On September 15th, volunteers from the Merrymeeting Gleaners, representatives of organizations receiving gleaned produce, and farmers joined to celebrate reaching 100,000 lbs and the community being built through this project. We are gleaning 5 days a week at 3 farms and 3 farmers markets. 100,000 lbs! news coverage. Like many of our partners, we worked to support asylum seekers who arrived in Maine earlier this summer.

  • As a short term approach to assist with farm labor challenges, the gleaners are officially offering to visit farms and help with specific tasks in exchange for a food donation. Farms can complete this request form which is also linked on the MFC website.

  • Anne McKee, our Bowdoin Summer Fellow worked as a Team Leader at Scatter Good Farm, worked at the LOCAL Garden and conducted 1:1 interviews with our recipient organizations. Key takeaways from the interviews were that overall they feel the partnership is working very well and there is a lot of excitement about the Know Your Veggies booklet. The one common issue cited was the need for produce bags at the sites. Solutions are being considered. See a video Anne created about her experience here.

  • Processing: Merrymeeting Gleaners and Turtle Rock Farm continue to work on additional processing efforts to preserve the summer bounty and extend the availability of local produce through the winter.


  • New connections built in Arrowsic, with the Village Clubhouse in Topsham, and with Opportunity Enterprises in Bath.

  • We have had several pop-up gleans this summer at farms we have not worked with in the past. This is a great way for farms to test if gleaning is a good fit for them.

Action Items:

  • Organizations interested in receiving gleaned produce and farms interested in donating produce can contact Kelly.

  • Volunteers interested in gleaning or distributing food can contact Kelly and she will send you the links to sign up. Please spread this info to any potential volunteers! 

Proposed SNAP Policy Changes - Public Comment Period until September 23rd

The USDA proposed changes to the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

To read the full proposal: Document IDFNS-2018-0037-0001 (download PDF)

The public comment period for proposed changes to SNAP will end on September 23, 2019.

USDA releases report: "Household Food Security in the United States in 2018"

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) released a new report on Food Security in US Households in September 2019. Read below for more information about the report and see the links at the end to download the full report or the report summary.

From the USDA ERS website

“Food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.”

“ERS plays a leading role in Federal research on food security and food security measurement in U.S. households and communities and provides data access and technical support to social science scholars to facilitate their research on food security. ERS research focuses on:

  • Food security in U.S. households (see annual report below).

  • Food security's impact on the well-being of children, adults, families, and communities.

  • Food security's relationship to public policies, public assistance programs, and the economy.

Household Food Security in the United States in 2018

ERS has produced several interactive data visualizations on food security and food insecurity. See: Interactive Charts and Highlights.”

Read the Full Report

Read the Report Summary

How to build a story of food system change...

From Maine Food Strategy

Liberation Farms. 2019.

Liberation Farms. 2019.

Big systems issues -- prevalent hunger in communities or the loss of several hundred small Maine farms over the last five years, or the impacts of climate change on Maine fisheries --- don’t get solved by one group or one organization working alone.  We all know the food system has many moving parts. When we talk about wanting a “better” or “stronger” food system, what does that look like in practical terms and what will it take to get there? How do we know if anyone is actually better off?

Results Based Accountability (RBA) is an evaluation process developed by Mark Friedman, founder of the Fiscal Policy Studies Institute, to help public and private sector agencies, communities, school districts, towns, states and nations be more accountable for the collective impact of their efforts

While no one group, state agency or business can “solve” our system issues, a single group can help feed more kids in a community or promote the farms in their county or helping businesses reduce energy costs and carbon emissions. RBA uses large population level indicators (such as the number of farms in Maine or state food insecurity rates in a county) to understand trends in a system. Combined with quantifiable impact data from programs or organizations working on specific issues, RBA can be used to help networks understand whether large-scale change is happening, and whether people and communities are better off as a result.

Maine has a large network working to strengthen and improve its food system. Maine Food Strategy is using its website to share trend data and case studies on programs and organizations making a measurable difference in improving the food system.  Over time, the initiative hopes this information will help Maine better understand where trends in it’s food system are headed, where the combined results of work in communities are affecting large-scale change - and where they’re not. 

Using “The Framework” a tool developed through a participatory planning process to identify broadly supported goals for improving Maine’s food system, Maine Food Strategy is highlighting programs such as Liberation Farms. 

Liberation Farms is an example of a program supporting Goal V of the Framework: “Food insecure individuals and communities in Maine have access to resources that address their needs.” The program provides New American farmers access and resources to produce food for themselves, their families and their communities. Started in 2014 with 20 family farmers on three acres of leased land, Liberation Farms four years later had increased land access to 35 acres with more than 140 family farmers working the land. More details on the impact of Liberation Farms and RBA are at  

Community food councils have other successful examples of programs making positive changes in Maine.  Food Councils and others are encouraged to add their achievements to case studies featured on Upload your own story directly or contact Maine Food Strategy at

Tourism Opportunity for Maine Food System Businesses

From the Maine Office of Tourism…

Time for You to Tap Into Tourism

Each year, the Maine Office of Tourism spends millions of dollars to promote Maine as a vacation destination through paid advertising (print, TV and online), e-newsletters, social media, quarterly digital magazine and proactive public relations. Their efforts successfully drive traffic to and all the Maine businesses listed there, resulting in 1.9 million unique visits in 2018!

Is your tourism related business taking advantage of this FREE opportunity to be seen by the millions of people interested in visiting Maine each year? If not, what are you waiting for?

It’s so easy and it takes just a few minutes to create your basic business listing. And, it gets even better with step by step instructions, options to expand your listing with photos, videos, logos and PDFs of your brochures or menus, etc., and the ability to promote specials, deals and events you are hosting. 

And did we mention it’s FREE!

Don’t wait - click here to set up your account and select the “First Time Login” button. There are step by step instructions on the left to help you create your listing. If you get stuck, call Greg Gadberry at (207) 624-9827 or send him an email