Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, Maine Sunday Telegram, and SOURCE have announced 12 recipients of the $100,000 Maine Local Foods grants program, and one of the recipients is Saint Joseph’s College’s Pearson’s Town Farm.

The grants program, launched in April 2014, was designed to support nonprofit local food distribution organizations in Maine—including farmer’s markets, food pantries, community co-ops, statewide or regional farm-to-school programs, and community or school gardens—with individual grants of up to $15,000.

“We were blown away by the response we received to this grants program – receiving more than 75 applications requesting funds totaling more than $900,000,” said Karen Voci, president of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. “There is no doubt that Maine-grown and sourced food is a priority here and we are thrilled to support the efforts of so many organizations as they bring fresh local foods to market and create opportunities for more people across the state to eat healthily.”

The grant recipients are as follows:

  • Cultivating Community, Portland, garden construction and scholarship, $15,000
  • FARMS (Focus on Agriculture in Rural ME Schools), Damariscotta, cooking equipment for teaching, $10,600
  • Food AND Medicine, Brewer, farmers’ market expansion, $14,600
  • Kennebec Restorative Community Harvest Program, Augusta, garden equipment for prison garden, $5,650
  • My Place Teen Center, Westbrook, cooking equipment for teaching, $11,080
  • Old Orchard Beach Community Food Pantry, Old Orchard Beach, cooking program pilot, $2,500
  • Oxford Hills Community Garden, Norway, development of a food forest, $8,500
  • Pearson’s Town Farm at Saint Joseph’s College, Standish, a garden expansion for college food service and food pantry, $8,420
  • Somerset Grist Mill Food Hub, Skowhegan, food education program for children, $2,000
  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension, South Paris, development of a teaching garden, $8,345
  • Washington County Food and Fuel Alliance, Machias, food pantry equipment and education, $10,000
  • Yarmouth Community Garden, Yarmouth, garden irrigation equipment, $3,100

The grant partnership was announced this past April, in celebration of Maine local food and the debut of the Maine Sunday Telegram’s new food and sustainability publication.

“When we launched SOURCE, our goal was to focus on the sustainable food environment in Maine and the healthy benefits of eating fresh local foods,” said Lisa DeSisto, publisher of the Maine Sunday Telegram and CEO of its parent company, MaineToday Media. “We have been so proud to partner with Harvard Pilgrim Foundation on this grant program and together work toward supporting local food organizations and improve the health of our residents.”

According to Voci, grant funds will be used to:

  • Expand the reach of sales of local food through new marketing and merchandising strategies
  • Increase capacity to provide locally grown or caught food to low-income communities, schools or nonprofit organizations
  • Purchase supplies to construct and plant community or school gardens.

Priority was given to projects that not only market or distribute food grown, raised or caught in Maine, but also to projects that help to expand the reach or build the permanent capacity of the funded organization; open new locations; purchase equipment; hire paid staff, and market to new groups of customers. The applicant needed to be a non-profit, 501(c)(3) program or organization.

The Maine Sunday Telegram’s publication, SOURCE: Eating and Living Sustainably in Maine, also appears weekly in the Sunday editions of the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.

In addition to receiving Foundation funding, grantees will be recognized at a special event later this summer co-sponsored by Harvard Pilgrim and the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Funding decisions were made by a committee of Harvard Pilgrim and the Maine Sunday Telegram representatives, as well as Maine food experts.

“Maine Sunday Telegram has been a true partner with us on this important initiative,” said Voci. “By improving access to fresh, local foods— particularly fruits and vegetables—we can have an impact on helping Mainers maintain a healthy lifestyle and that’s what we are working toward.” For more information, visit www.harvardpilgrim.org/foundation.

About The Maine Sunday Telegram & SOURCE: Eating and Living Sustainably in Maine

Founded in 1862, the Maine Sunday Telegram provides statewide and local coverage of news that is important to Mainers. It provides award-winning reporting and accurate, dependable information to a statewide readership on a variety of platforms including print, digital, mobile, and events. Boasting the largest newsroom in the state of Maine, the Maine Sunday Telegram is dedicated to providing its community with quality, local journalism.

SOURCE: Eating and Living Sustainably in Maine is the newest section of the Maine Sunday Telegram and also appears weekly in the Sunday editions of the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. Dedicated to covering the food movement and all things sustainable in Maine, SOURCE is a hit with over 75,000 subscribers and a whole new audience of like-minded Mainers.

About The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation

Created in 1980, The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation supports Harvard Pilgrim's mission to improve the quality and value of health care for the people and communities we serve by providing the tools, training, and leadership to help build healthy communities throughout Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. Since its inception, the Harvard Pilgrim Foundation has distributed more than $130 million in funds. In 2013, the Foundation awarded $2.8 million in grants to nearly 700 nonprofit organizations within the four states. For more information, please visit www.harvardpilgrim.org/foundation.

Source: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation

July 10, 2014
Saint Joseph’s College: David Svenson at 207-893-7723 · dsvenson@sjcme.edu
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care: Kim Moore at 617-509-6038 · 
Maine Today Media: Stefanie H. Manning at 207-791-6201 ·