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'Farm to Pantry' program aims to help Maine farmers and feed the hungry

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program will buy $40,000 worth of organic produce and protein directly from Maine farms.

BRUNSWICK, Maine — There is a new food support program on mid-coast Maine benefiting farmers and families. It's called "Farm to Pantry."

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP) runs the new initiative that provides both help to organic farmers and enables Mainers to get the healthy food they need.

The organization, located in the greater Brunswick area, will buy $40,000 worth of organic produce and protein directly from Maine farms.

Farmers whose businesses have taken a hard hit due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The food bank coordinator Ryan Ravenscroft says it's a win-win situation.

"Where they are not just donating to us, but we are getting something back to them that we can give. We have the resources to put this program in place and buy the stuff from the farmers," Ravenscroft said.

Through this initiative, the program will continue to serve healthy food to its five thousand clients it reaches per year.

"It's a combination of the support for local businesses, local farmers and feeding our community," Karen Parker, the Executive Director at Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, said.

The five farms that MCHPP is currently working with are:

  • Crystal Spring Farm (Brunswick) 
  • Six River Farm (Bowdoinham)
  • Two Coves Farm (Hapswell)
  • Stonecipher Farm (Bowdoinham)
  • Whatley Farm (Topsam)

"They've always donated over the years, we've never directly bought from them..this was the right time to step up and do that," Ravenscroft said.

According to the organization, the food needs will continue to grow throughout the pandemic.

"We've also seen a lot of new faces that we've never seen before, so we know that there are more and more people needing food," Parker said.

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The restaurant business is a huge portion of the farmer's revenue, one that is mostly up in the air right now.

"Make sure we have food for our clients and make sure that the farms exist, are supported and are able to be sustainable," Ravenscroft said. "For some of them, it's 70-plus percent of their business, some of it is 30%."

The organization's goal is to make the barriers as low as possible for folks to get food.

Chewonki Dining Services in Wiscasset has been a huge help in making meals and processing food for MCHPP. "When the time comes to turn tomatoes into sauce, they are going to be super important to the overall success of the program," Ravenscroft said.

"We're called Mid-coast, it's mid-coast Maine..but we don't turn anybody away," said Ravenscroft.

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