Maine Harvest for Hunger
The Maine Harvest for Hunger project is an outreach program of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to food insecure individuals and families in Maine.
Maine has the highest rate of food insecurity in New England, and ranks 7th in the United States. The USDA estimates that 16.4% of Maine households, or more than 208,000 individuals, are food insecure. Maine also has the highest rate (21% or 1 out of 5) of child food insecurity in New England and is 16th in the nation (Feeding America). 23% of seniors experience marginal, low, or very low food security (AARP). 43% of food-insecure people do not qualify for food stamps or any other government program. It is especially challenging for food insecure individuals to afford high quality, fresh, nutritious food, and Maine’s emergency food system has seen donations of fresh produce decline significantly in recent years.
Since 2000, UMaine Cooperative Extension’s statewide Maine Harvest for Hunger program has mobilized gardeners, farmers, businesses, schools, and civic groups to grow, glean, and donate high quality produce to distribution sites (pantries, shelters, low income senior centers, etc.) and directly to neighbors in need, with the objective of mitigating hunger, improving nutrition and health, and helping recipients develop lifelong positive nutritional habits. In 2016 Maine Harvest for Hunger educational programs have also focused on engaging food pantry recipients in growing more of their own produce and/or appropriate methods of cooking and utilization of fresh produce.
In 2017, 371 volunteers and 8 corporate partners across Maine gleaned 213,770 lbs. of fresh produce and distributed it to 165 sites including food pantries, soup kitchens and low income senior centers.
How you can help
Enroll in the Maine Harvest for Hunger program and grow an extra row of vegetables or fruits and donate the surplus to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. If every gardener contributes, a significant impact can be made on reducing hunger. Master Gardeners and all types of growers all over Maine are invited to participate.
Participating in Maine Harvest for Hunger is as easy as clicking on the links below!
- Maine Harvest for Hunger: Frequently Asked Questions
- Maine Harvest for Hunger Enrollment Form
- Most Wanted Produce: Vegetable Basics
- MHH List of Participating Cumberland County Food Pantries
- Another way to help Maine’s hungry: What is “gleaning”?
Will you consider making a difference?
In 2017, over 47,000 pounds of produce was donated in Cumberland County through Maine Harvest for Hunger.