ELLSWORTH—COVID-19’s emergence around the world quickly raised alarm bells for many people regarding the ability of our global food chain to respond. News of plowed crops and dumped milk confirmed our worst visions – healthy food that became a casualty of a broken food supply chain during a global emergency when people most needed it.
Here in Maine, millions of pounds of potatoes no longer had markets as schools, restaurants and other institutions shut down. The Maine Gleaning Network, in an effort to salvage some of this lost income to farmers and to get food to people who need it, organized the purchase and distribution of 40,000 pounds of Aroostook County potatoes from Irving Farms Marketing, representing multiple potato farmers in the area.
Maine’s Merrymeeting Gleaners led a coordinated collaboration between the Maine Gleaning Network, Starling Systems Inc. and FarmLink, who donated $4,000 to purchase potatoes, to distribute the potatoes to 60 food security organizations throughout the state.
The distribution was coordinated by multiple gleaning groups – Healthy Acadia in Washington and Hancock counties, Androscoggin Gleaners, Merrymeeting Gleaners in Sagadahoc County, Somerset Public Health and Cumberland County Gleaning Initiative. On June 17, Healthy Acadia’s Downeast Gleaning Initiative organized the distribution of 2,500 pounds of the potatoes to nine food security organizations across Hancock and Washington counties.
Healthy Acadia’s gleaning initiative has collected and distributed over 6,600 pounds of food and vegetable seedlings, valued at $14,000, to food pantries across Washington County from Jonesport to Danforth. In Hancock County, the team has collected and distributed over 1,900 pounds for eight food security organizations: Emmaus Center, Simmering Pot, Life Line Food Pantry, Bar Harbor Food Pantry, Community Compass Meal Program, Healthy Island Project, H.O.M.E. Co-Op and Cappy’s Cupboard.
For information about local gleaning efforts in Hancock County, contact Rachel Emus at [email protected] or (207) 667-7171.