Dig Those Gardens: Maine Seniors Fight Food Insecurity
Monday, May 19, 2014
BANGOR, Maine - Food insecurity is a problem that affects about 15 percent of Maine's population. It means people do not have access to enough nutritious food on a daily basis. A program involving volunteers age 50 and older is digging in to help.
The ENCore Leadership Corps each year trains about 250 older adults in a variety of volunteer areas. Jennifer Crittenden, who helps run ENCorps out of the University of Maine Center on Aging, says the focus of the Food Security Initiative is training people to aid those eligible for food assistance programs, helping out at food banks and pantries, and getting dirt underneath their fingernails.
"We have volunteers who work on community gardens," Crittenden says, "and this is the time of year when they're starting to think about setting those up. It's a great chance to bring community members together, and also to grow some fresh food that can be given out to families locally."
Across the state, more than one in five children is food insecure. Rural counties such as Somerset and Franklin have the highest rates, but Cumberland and York counties struggle with 19 percent child-food-insecurity rates.
Crittenden says helping fight hunger taps into a lot of baby boomers' desires to give back to their communities.
"Food insecurity touches Mainers of all ages. In particular, older adults and children are at most risk of really experiencing food insecurity. It is definitely an issue that hits home for many people," she explains.
ENcore works in partnership with the Maine Community Foundation. The Food Security Initiative was launched in part with funding from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation.
Crittenden says the recession and unpredictable layoffs and job elimination all have stressed the state's food banks and pantries.
"What we're trying to do is help give our volunteers the tools they need to successfully keep food pantries open, to look at sustaining those options as an emergency food source in their community," she adds.
ENCorps holds its annual Summit this weekend at Sebasco Harbor Resort, Phippsburg, where food security issues will be a focus of the community work discussions and networking.
get more stories like this via email
BOISE, Idaho -- Wildfires are affecting air quality across the West, bringing hidden dangers in smoke that can harm people's health. The Boise-based …
DENVER -- The days of exponentially high increases in health-insurance costs may finally be in the rearview mirror. The Colorado Division of …
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Cultural institutions in the U.S. are facing scrutiny to be more accessible and inclusive. The organization in charge of Iowa's …
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Last month's deadly heat wave in the Northwest underscored the need to reduce carbon emissions, but advocates want to ensure low-…
MINOT, N.D. -- Many arguments are being floated about legislation before Congress that would bring big changes to U.S. labor laws. The bill has its …
Health and Wellness
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Health-care advocates called on Missouri lawmakers to allocate funds for Medicaid expansion right away, after the state …
AUGUSTA, Maine -- School meals in Maine will be free for all students again this year and into the future, but parents are being urged to fill out …
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A report outlines how federal efforts to bring solar energy to one in four American households could bring clean energy to …