It’s Thank you Thursday and today’s shout out of Mission Love goes to the retail supermarket Bayside Shop ‘n Save in Milbridge.
Ask Mission staff working throughout the front lines of any and all of our food security services and programs. Their responses are always glowing and succinct. Case in point: Jillian, who is a powerhouse with food activities at our Downeast Campus, Cherryfield, says of Bayside Shop ‘n Save’s work with the Mission: “Bayside Shop ‘n Save has a strong commitment to our local community and donates surplus produce and bakery items every week. They rock.”
The past several months, when Covid-19 fallout caused our Food Pantry customers to more than double, Bayside never flinched. Their commitment to their community kept pace with increased demand.
Whether it is providing great tasting food for the popular Downeast Table of Plenty Sunday Dinners, saying yes to Food Pantry volunteers using Bayside’s parking area to successfully raise money to buy turkeys for Washington County Food Pantries to have for Thanksgiving — Bayside Shop ‘n Save does it all.
Culturally Relevant Food in the Hands of Mainers in Need
July 28, 2020
In the wake of COVID-19, Good Shepherd Food Bank pivoted its operations and began distributing pre-packed boxes of shelf-stable foods to support food pantries in implementing low-touch distribution models. The Food Bank ordered shelf-stable food by the tractor-trailer load, buying products that are common to most Maine households—but we soon heard that our one-size-fits-all approach was not meeting the needs of Mainers of Color. Our product mix was lacking foods that were culturally relevant to Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities in Maine.
One example of the great work happening across the state with help from this fund is by Mano en Mano.
Mano en Mano works with farmworkers and immigrants to help them thrive in Maine. The organization envisions a more inclusive Downeast Maine where the contributions to diverse communities are welcomed; access to essential services, education and housing are ensured; and social justice and equity are embraced. Through the Food Bank’s Community Redistribution Grant program, Mano en Mano was awarded $10,000 to support the distribution of culturally-specific boxes of food….
With the funding, they saw the opportunity to partner with Maine Seacoast Mission, another local nonprofit partner, and Vazquez Mexican Takeout, a local restaurant. Vazquez quickly ordered food from Boston and Maine Seacoast Mission provided volunteer and logistics support, as well as space to store the food until the pick-up and delivery day.
CHERRYFIELD, ME — Building and offering gardens in a box was a new way for the Mission to meet the food requests for its Downeast community families. Local Folklore Farm provided seedlings, such as the tomato plant pictured here, as a starter pack. All forty gardens in a box found new homes.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Contact – Scott K Fish, Communications and Marketing [email protected] or 207-458-7185
CHERRYFIELD, ME — When Maine Seacoast Mission Director of Service Programs Wendy Harrington read the news about Covid-19 restrictions in March 2020, she knew it meant big changes for the Mission’s food programs Downeast. She also knew the Mission has helped communities through crises for as long as it’s been around. This latest crisis would be a chance for the Mission to help and to grow.
Months earlier, the Mission had started bringing together all its food security programs within a Family Food Center that would make it easy for families to access education, food, community, and resource support in one place. The food pantry, Downeast Table of Plenty (DETOP), Weald Bethel garden, and child/senior hunger programs would be part of an integrated continuum of services supporting family resiliency.
Covid-19 precautions caused a spike in the number of people turning to the Mission food pantry for help. Wendy Harrington said, “To meet the need, we recruited staff from other Mission programs which were on hold because of Covid-19.” Mission staff, including EdGE instructors, and volunteers stepped up to fill the need at the pantry.
Before, customers shopped at the Mission food pantry as they would any food market. As a coronavirus defense, the pantry doors were closed to the public. Instead, customers are now served by a new drive-through system. It includes an online food order form and the ability to call in food orders to Mission staff. Customers place their orders; volunteers and staff box them up and then place the boxes in cars as customers move along the drive-through.
The Mission also increased food deliveries to people unable to get to the food pantry, or who relied on meals served at the DETOP suppers.
As more and more people lost wages, experienced layoffs, and relied on the food pantry for daily sustenance, long-time Mission food pantry partners became even more important. Good Shepherd Food Bank, Shaw’s and Walmart in Ellsworth and government programs and private donors either provided funds to buy more food, or increased the variety and amounts of donated produce, meats, and dairy products.
The Mission’s food distribution partnership with nonprofit Mano en Mano in Milbridge also grew. The Mission worked with Mano en Mano staff to acquire and offer food staples to over 150 Latinx family households. An initial donation from McKays Public House in Bar Harbor, followed by a grant from Good Shepherd Food Bank, helped make this happen.
The Mission food pantry also teamed with Folklore Farm in Milbridge to provide local produce. Intervale Farm in Cherryfield offered dormant blueberry freezers to accommodate a large donation of fresh meats for the pantry. As a new Family Food Center initiative, also in tandem with local farmers, the Mission built and distributed 40 Gardens-in-a-Box, and 150 tomato plants in containers to local families.
The Mission Family Food Center is well underway and embracing new opportunities to strengthen community. We encourage you to watch and share our new video short depicting our work with our emerging Family Food Center programs.
Learn more about Maine Seacoast Mission’s food security programs.
CHERRYFIELD, ME — It’s Thank you Thursday and today’s shout out of Mission Love goes to Renee Pray.
Renee Pray works as a cook at Milbridge Elementary School during the school year, and with the Mission and other partners during the summer, providing meals to children in the community. She is committed to feeding all children and does it with a smile on her face. The children love her and the meals she creates, especially her chocolate chip cookies.
The Mission offers meals to children at EdGE Summer Camp and through deliveries to childrens’ homes this summer and we couldn’t be more appreciative of Renee Pray and MSAD #37, as we partner in supporting Washington County families.