Healthy Lincoln County (HLC), a program of Medical Care Development (MCD), has received a two-year $110,000 grant from Good Shepherd Food Bank (GSFB) to establish a community connector position that will serve communities in Lincoln County.
This is part of the GSFB's $250 million Campaign to End Hunger in Maine, which aims to ensure that all residents of Maine have access to enough nutritious food when and where they need it by the end of 2025.
More than 13% of Maine households are food insecure, a slightly higher rate than the national average at nearly 12%, according to a September 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Research from the Food Research & Action Center indicates that 16.5% of rural households faced food insecurity in 2018, compared to 13.5% of households in metropolitan areas. Food insecurity is linked to a wide range of adverse health outcomes, and rural Americans are at higher risk for poor health outcomes than their urban counterparts.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue of food insecurity. When COVID hit hard, it brought together partners from across food pantries, businesses, nonprofits, volunteers, and more to tackle food insecurity in our community. That work was a catalyst for a coordinated effort moving forward," Elizabeth Foley, co-director of MCD Public Health, said. "The community connector will provide a valuable link to current and future food security work. The new position will look at what's happening throughout Lincoln County and unify a food security structure that meets the needs of all community members."
The HLC community connector will coordinate efforts led by Lincoln County food pantries, farms, and community organizations addressing hunger. Additionally, the connector will assist in educating the community on available resources to help reduce stigma around food insecurity and ensure that more individuals in Lincoln County have access to the food resources they need. Success will be determined through access to food in a centralized, coordinated way while addressing issues, such as isolation and transportation barriers and distributing surplus foods.
"I'm so excited for this opportunity at HLC to foster stronger relationships with our food security partners in our county," Kelsey Robinson, director of HLC, said. "We've learned so much already about the food landscape through our existing Summer Food Service Program, SNAP-Ed, and Lincoln County Gleaners programs that this new initiative will bring our efforts to the next level."
The funding is the result of several month-long, community-driven processes that began in January 2020. The process engaged food security partners and stakeholders from across Lincoln County to identify key strategies to end hunger in Lincoln County.
About Medical Care Development
Medical Care Development (MCD) is a global health nonprofit and National Public Health Institute that envisions a world in which all people have access to high-quality solutions to improve and maintain their health and well-being. Healthy Lincoln County is one of many programs under MCD's umbrella and supports thriving, healthy communities in Lincoln County by working with partners to improve the health and well-being of all residents.