Farm to Table Partner: Cooking for Community

Farm to Table Partner: Cooking for Community

Farm to Table Partner: Cooking for Community

With the emergence and escalation of COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Farm to Table Series in order to protect the health and safety of our visitors and staff. Despite this, our work to transform the way we farm and eat has never been more important. We’re teaming up with four organizations focused on food insecurity to direct the food, staff time, communications and logistics that go into our Farm to Events to supporting their efforts in feeding people. A stronger local food system will help all of us through this crisis, and will create a more resilient future for food and farming

Learn more about Cooking for Community, a brand new Portland-based food industry initiative that came to fruition in response to Covid-19, on their role in this time of need:

How did you respond to the pandemic, and has anything changed for you over the past few months?

When the pandemic first hit we saw people were hungry, restaurants were closing, food purveyors had lost much of their steady revenue sources, and social service agencies were struggling to feed those in need. We wondered what we could do to help. The answer seemed too simple, yet it proved to be so powerful. Connect all these communities through our work to help all of them.

We responded to the immediate impact of the pandemic with a very simple idea. Raise money to… support restaurants to… cook healthy food… to feed the hungry. We link existing resources to amplify the impact of donations, thereby serving restaurants, employing people, supporting local farmers and feeding people at the same time. When we formed in early April 2020, we could not have imagined the enormity and longevity of the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis. We had hoped to be a short term solution. Now, we are searching for ways to remain sustainable and operational for months, if not years, as, the need for our work is escalating rapidly.

What has changed for us more recently is the confirmation that things will get worse before they get better and that the demand for what we are doing is needed throughout the state.

What does community mean to you?

Our work at Cooking for Community embodies the very essence of an inclusive and cooperative effort. We are setting a giant table- a table at which everyone is welcome. People and organizations come to eat. To give. To talk. To listen. To think. To serve. To collaborate. Addressing the multifaceted crisis created by this pandemic will take generosity, commitment and ingenuity by us all.

Community means strength, compassion, and support to us. It means caring for others and knowing by helping people, all ships will rise. The saying ‘we are stronger together’ always bears repeating and Mainers take that to heart.

How are you connected to farms, food, & community? 

We are creating solutions to hunger in Maine that no single entity could deliver alone. That means supporting our restaurants and growers, who are central to our communities and the economic viability of Maine’s vibrant food culture. It means partnering with agencies to better identify and serve those in need. And it means finding innovative ways to feed our neighbors. We raise money to pay restaurants to cook healthy, comforting meals for people that are hungry, using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

What is important for people to understand about who you are and who you serve?

We are an all-volunteer led group of professionals, bonded in a common desire to help Mainers through this unprecedented time. Ultimately we serve hungry people in need of nourishing meals, and in doing so we serve restaurants and food purveyors trying to stay afloat and social service agencies support their growing number of people in need.

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