Farm to Table Partner: Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program
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 Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP), a nonprofit with services to provide hungry people with access to healthy food, 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?
The pandemic has dramatically changed how our organization operates, and how our programs function. Pre-COVID 19 we had 350 volunteers per week in our facility, and had a staff to volunteer ratio of of about 1:30. These days, we operate with closer to 40 volunteers per week, a 90% reduction in our daily workforce. At the same time, we changed all of the services to curbside/drive up, contact free services without ever closing for a day in between. We now run our Food Pantry out of a tent in our parking lot, and our Soup Kitchen is walk up style. Finally, we added a few new services and expansions to our repertoire. We committed $40,000 to support struggling local farmers and provide our client base with a reliable stream of fresh, local produce. We also committed $10,000 to expanding our School Pantry Program over the summer and provide low income families with additional free groceries, available for pick up weekly from Summer Food Service Program sites.
Really both everything and nothing has changed. We are providing all the services we have always operated, and serving all of the same people we have always been here to serve, but doing it in an environment that has completely turned everything on its head.
What does community mean to you?
Our community is the entire network of people that support our organization, by accessing services, donating money or food or time, working for us as either paid or unpaid labor, or sharing information about the work we do. Our community is anyone in midcoast Maine who actively believes that equitable access to nutritious food is a basic human right.
How are you connected to farms, food, & community?
Food is at the center of the work we do, and here in Maine, farms are an integral piece of that puzzle. A healthy farm system contributes to a healthy food system for all. MCHPP receives tens of thousands of pounds of farm produce each year, both donated and purchased. Our farm partners are incredibly generous and dedicated to making sure low income folks can access their product.
What is important for people to understand about who you are and who you serve?
MCHPP has been working in and for this community for over 35 years. Our client base and its needs are diverse, and our programs are diverse to meet those needs. At our core, we simply believe that everyone deserves to have access to nutritious food, and enough of it to comfortably feed their families. If you or someone you know could benefit from accessing services, please visit mchpp.org.
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