Maine Gleaning Network Distributes 40,000 Pounds of Maine Potatoes
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 funded the purchase of the 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, Androsggin Gleaners, Merrymeeting Gleaners in Sagadahoc County, Somerset Public Health, and Cumberland County Gleaning Initiative. On June 17, 2020, 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.
Many thanks to FarmLink for their donation of $4000 to purchase the potatoes, and to all of the organizations and businesses that allowed the use of their loading docks for drop-offs and pickups, in order to get the produce distributed to those in need.
Thanks to the enormous collaborative spirit of food security organizations during this COVID-19 pandemic, Healthy Acadia’s Downeast Gleaning Initiative has already collected and distributed over 6,600 pounds of much-needed 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 lbs 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 more information about local gleaning efforts in Washington County, please contact Regina Grabrovac at [email protected] or (207) 255-3741. In Hancock County, contact Rachel Emus at [email protected] or (207) 667-7171.
Healthy Acadia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that engages in a broad range of initiatives to build healthier communities and make it easier for people to lead healthy lives across Washington and Hancock counties, Maine. Learn more at www.HealthyAcadia.org.