Food Matters

This sign welcomes people to Age-Friendly Chelsea's Community Garden.

Cooking Our Way was written by people living with dementia for people living with dementia and compiled by AgingME GWEP.

In Age-Friendly Bowdoinham, group meals bring people together for fun, socialization, and education. As an added bonus, the Bowdoinham Food Pantry brought produce to share and explained how participants can help spread the word about the pantry

Since 2014, when Age-Friendly/Lifelong Communities began conducting needs assessments, most learned that food security was a primary concern facing their residents. Adequate housing and reliable transportation aren’t far behind. 

And these truths have not changed.

Although Maine communities can be similar in many ways, different strategies have been designed and implemented to respond to identified local needs. Recently 6 programs addressing food security were reviewed and highlighted in the Food Security Toolkit.  In this season of harvest and thanksgiving, we wanted to highlight a few more for inspiration!

Some focus on the actual production of food, some distribute commodity food boxes, some offer meal programs and the list goes on. To accomplish these things, partnerships and collaborations have formed. Some examples include churches, social service agencies, fraternal orders, schools and that list goes on, as well.

The successful creation of partnerships is hyper-local, as each community finds its own best way. Considering the duration of these programs, the model is powerful and successful. They also rely on cash donations to supplement. Giving within your own zip code is most satisfying! 

Grow It!

In a largely agricultural state, it is no surprise that some Lifelong Communities grow the food they need and share it between neighbors. These communities have thriving community gardens that share the bounty of harvest:

Glean It!

Waste not, want not could be the official motto of our state. Gleaning enables farmers to donate produce that they don't want or need to others. Volunteers complete the harvest in these Lifelong Communities.

Deliver It!

Other towns have developed programs that help distribute food, often in partnership with local gardens, farmers, the US Dept. of Agriculture or local food banks. USDA Food Commodity Boxes are delivered by Lifelong Communities in:

Pick It Up!

In Waldo County, they have established “Give and Take” sites in 16 towns. These sites are open from June until November. In Georgetown, they partner with the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Project and the Merrymeeting Gleaners to gather food that then is shared widely. Dover-Foxcroft started a new community garden this year that brings people living with dementia and care partners together for shared fun growing food and making it into delicious meals to be shared with all of their neighbors. 

Share It!

Age-Friendly South Portland matches the Senior Farm Share stipend. 25 people used the program last year. On the Blue Hill peninsula, the Magic Bus brings food - and library books. In Danforth, the Lifelong Community team created a voucher program to be used at their Farmers Market.

  Great Food Served (or Distributed) Here!

The Purple Ladle meals program, a long-running Limestone-based project feeds many. This is in partnership with the United Methodist Church. Meals are served and people gather to share (and socialize, of course) or, when necessary, meals are delivered. Much of the food is donated. Some is grown in the community garden, as well. That brings the local school and Northern Lights Health into the effort. Limestone is a shining example of community achievement through community collaboration. Other communities provide free meals, as well. For example:

You will find  more information about all these programs (and a lot more!),  when you visit the Lifelong Maine website.