Mills Administration Announces 2022 Farm to Food Bank Project Award
November 22, 2021
For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov
AUGUSTA - The Mills Administration announced today that nearly $38,000 will be utilized by a Maine organization to continue its efforts to reduce food waste by providing food to food pantries to feed Maine people. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) has been awarded a $37,828 USDA Food and Nutrition Service Farm to Food Bank Project Award for work in 2022. This is the second year DACF has received Farm to Food Bank funding, which is part of The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
DACF will partner with Healthy Acadia, an Ellsworth-based nonprofit, to prepare family-sized packages of frozen wild blueberries utilizing donated berries from local Washington and Hancock County family farm operations. As part of its Downeast Gleaning Initiative, Healthy Acadia staff will work with farmers to harvest and process berries from fields that would otherwise not be utilized. The resulting packages of frozen wild blueberries will be distributed to more than two dozen pantries in the greater Downeast area in fall 2022.
"It is terrific to see this collaboration between our wild blueberry growers and Healthy Acadia supported with the resources needed to continue for a second year, as it presents an excellent way to get healthy, Maine-grown food to people who need it," said DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal. "Healthy Acadia's leadership on this project is commendable and, along with participating wild blueberry producers, they will make a real difference in the lives of Maine people who experience food insecurity in the Downeast region."
"The USDA Farmer to Food Bank program is a wonderful opportunity to work with local blueberry growers in our Downeast region to offer a high-quality product to our neighbors who might not otherwise have the chance to access them," said Healthy Acadia's Washington County Food Programs Manager Regina Grabrovac. "This year was our first year working on the project, and food pantries have been very pleased to have the berries. Nutritious fresh and especially frozen local produce is consistently in short supply. We are delighted to have a chance to be involved for a second year now to build on the pilot program established in 2021."
Farm to Food Bank projects aim to reduce food waste at the agricultural production, processing, or distribution level by donating food, providing food to needy individuals, and building relationships between agricultural producers, processors, distributors, and emergency food organizations. The projects introduce local produce into the TEFAP program, which normally features mostly shelf-stable staple foods.