Monday, September 23, 2013
Local Growers Share Harvest with Mainers in Need
Mainers Feeding Mainers, Good Shepherd Food Bank's farm partnership program, is nearing the end of its 4th growing season! The season got off to a slow start because of weather conditions, but growth picked up and soon our partner food pantries and meal sites were receiving cucumbers, summer squash, green beans, kale, chard, radishes, cabbage, corn, tomatoes and broccoli. Soon the winter root veggies will be ready as well.
This summer, we worked with 20 farmers who grew vegetables for purchase by the Food Bank. In an exciting new development, we are now partnering with 7 apple growers in Maine and are expecting approximately 200,000 pounds of apples this fall.
Approximately 80 of our member food pantries receive produce directly from local farms through the farm-to-pantry model. This method of distributing the fresh produce works well because it cuts down on transportation to and from the Food Bank and it connects local hunger relief agencies to growers in their communities.
In another new development this year, we are purchasing local produce for a processing pilot with Portland Public Schools - various veggies are being turned into sauce at the school district's kitchen facility. The first batch of sauce is done and we hear that initial taste tests conducted at Preble Street, Wayside Food Programs, and York County Shelter Programs have been a big success. Through this project with the Portland Schools, not only will our partner food pantries and meal sites have access to this locally-made sauce, but students will benefit as well, since the sauce will be used in school meals.