By Betsy Richard, MPH, MS, Community Health Educator, Somerset Public Health
Hunger is impacting our neighbors and we may not even know about it. According to information gathered by Feeding America (2014), over 8,000 adults and 2,500 children live with food insecurity in Somerset County. Out of those individuals, over 20 percent are not eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP) or any other nutrition programs.
Somerset Public Health (SPH) has been working with food pantries across our county to help bring fresh fruits and vegetables into the pantries, assist in creating a sustainability plan, and help provide needed infrastructure.
In collaboration with the Good Shepherd Food Bank and Eastern Maine Health Care, SPH provides assistance to pantries through a CDC Partnership to Improve Community Health Care grant. SPH provided:
- 3,000 brochures for community agencies to promote the food pantries
- 14 crates to be able to gather fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmers’ market
- 7 pantry signs
- 4 full-size refrigerators
- 4 full-size freezers
- 1 freezer/refrigerator combo
- 1 produce display
- 8 laptops with printers
Three food pantries also received additional shelving.
We will continue to support our local food pantries by helping them establish written nutrition policies, such as Go-Slow-Whoa, so that individuals are being educated that the healthiest choice is the easiest choice.