Archive for the ‘food security’ Category

Filling Local Food Pantries with Fresh Food

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Last year’s bumper crop of garden vegetables enabled me to contribute fresh food to a nearby food pantry. There, I saw shelves full of locally grown vegetables, lovingly washed, trimmed and packaged by Dennis Chasteen especially for the pantry’s clients. Find out more about Dennis and how to get involved in helping to provide healthy nourishment for those in need in this recent article from The Wire:


Growing to Fill the Need


Lee resident Dennis Chasteen was up at 5 a.m. on a recent morning to harvest baby spinach from his garden before the heat became oppressive. A retired chemistry professor at the University of New Hampshire, he meticulously tends his 100-square-foot garden, growing more than 30 varieties of organic vegetables in raised beds.


Once he’d reaped a good haul of spinach, Chasteen and his wife began packaging the leafy greens into recycled containers that he stores in his garage, collected from former UNH colleagues and other friends. By 9:30 a.m., he was at the Seacoast Family Food Pantry in Portsmouth to give away the fresh produce.


Chasteen has been donating produce to local food pantries for the last four years. He makes the 30-minute trip from Lee to Portsmouth once or twice a week. Last year, he donated about 800 pounds of vegetables to the pantry, and he’s already delivered some 250 boxes of lettuce, spinach, and arugula this year.


“I enjoy gardening and I recognize that there’s a need. With the economy the way it is, this was an opportunity to give back,” Chasteen said. “It’s quite a lot of work, but I feel that it’s worthwhile and I enjoy doing it.”


Chasteen isn’t the only Seacoast resident making healthy donations to local charities. A growing number of organizations and individuals across the region are dedicating portions of their farms or gardens to area food banks and pantries, providing fresh and nutritious produce to needy families.


For local pantries, the giving comes at a critical time. The number of families requesting assistance has swelled dramatically in recent years.


“We have actually quadrupled in the last four years the number of people that we serve,” said Diane Giese, executive director of the Seacoast Family Food Pantry. In 2007, she said, the pantry served around 50 families each month. Now, they serve between 200 and 230 families per month. “It’s really huge.”


But, with help from local farmers and gardeners, the pantry has also expanded its offerings over the last few years. Located adjacent to Portsmouth City Hall on Junkins Avenue, the pantry’s shelves once were filled almost exclusively with nonperishable canned goods. On a recent weekday, patrons could find fresh corn, apples, potatoes, arugula, tomatoes and more—even kumquats. They also offer eggs, cheese and milk, as well as meat donated by Hannaford Supermarket.


“We’ve gone from basically not offering anything that is fresh like that three years ago to having this wonderful selection of great, healthy things for our families,” Giese said. Read more at The Wire…


For more information on food pantries that accept donations of fresh food, please check our resource page: Visit to learn about the Plant a Row for the Hungry program in the Seacoast.

CSA & North Berwick Farmers’ Market Accepting Food Stamps

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Both the North Berwick Farmers’ Market and Fresh Start Farm’s CSA are accepting Food Stamps through EBT (electronic benefits transfer) — hurrah for helping to make fresh, local food accessible to all! Thanks to support from community businesses, the North Berwick Farmers’ Market is able to double the value of Food Stamps through a “market match” system. From Foster’s:


NORTH BERWICK — Last Friday was opening day for the North Berwick Farmers Market, held every Friday 3-6 p.m. at the Town Hall parking lot. In its third year, the market has grown in vendors and sales every year, said Manager Rebekah Yonan. This year the market is taking Food Stamps for the first time, and is only the second farmers market in York County, Maine, to do so. Sanford’s market also accepts the federal subsidy payments.


At the North Berwick market, an added aid for people using Food Stamps is a “market match” system where half the purchase is subsidized up to $20 so customers get twice as much value. Initial funding for the match system is coming from Kennebunk Savings Bank, Hussey Seating and Carpe Diem Coffee. “The government is putting billions into food stamps and the idea is to try to bring that in locally. The idea is for people to have access to quality food. It’s really a perfect match,” said Yonan.


Vendors range from vegetable growers to bakers, nurseries to a livestock owner who knits items from her own animals’ wool. Food Stamp users have to bring their Pine Tree card and have it swiped at a processing booth before shopping. Other states’ cards, such as New Hampshire, also are accepted.


The market will be open through October. For more information call 207-676-3356 or visit or on Facebook.


Similarly, Fresh Start Farm’s CSA is offering half-price shares to EBT users. For more information:

Planting Day at the New Hampshire Food Bank

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Share Our Strength Seacoast  is organizing a planting day at the  New Hampshire Food Bank’s gardens for June 4th, and welcome anyone interested to come and help out! The plan will be to plant from 9am – 1, take a break for lunch and continue work as needed or volunteers can leave when they need to.

For organizational purposes (to make sure there are enough tools and lunch!) please rsvp to by May 27th.

These are the terrific folks who organize the Taste of the Seacoast, an event that also benefits the NH Food Bank among other other groups – tickets on sale now!

Maine Harvest for Hunger & Senior FarmShare Program

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

From the University of Maine Cooperative Extension:


Grow Produce for Food Pantries with Maine Harvest for Hunger


As local gardeners start making their garden plans, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Volunteers Program is asking gardeners to consider growing extra produce to donate to local food pantries. The program coordinates volunteers, helps them connect with local food pantries and provides advice about what to grow and when to harvest. Please visit


The 2011 Senior FarmShare Program is currently available to eligible seniors! 


Participants in the Senior FarmShare Program are entitled to receive a FarmShare ($50 worth) of first quality, fresh, local produce from a Maine farm for a core 8-week period during the growing season. The variety of produce and supply method will vary depending on the farm you choose. For more information: click here.

Sharon Astyk in Newburyport, June 2

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Transition Newburyport, along with a host of other great organizations in the area, are bringing Sharon Astyk to speak about creating healthy, resiliant, and equitable food systems. I’ve read a number of her books, thanks to a recommendation from Audrey, and the practicalities alongside the vision help spur concrete action. This event is free and open to the public:

Sharon Astyk, a North Shore native and nationally known energy and environmental writer, will speak about local food resilience on Thursday, June 2 at 7:00 PM.  She will talk about the importance of developing a strong local food system and how we can work toward individual and community food resilience, including eating local food year-round. This is the second event of a local food series organized by Transition Newburyport.

“The structure of our globalized industrial food system is not sustainable or healthy for us or the planet.” says Elizabeth Marcus of Transition Newburyport, “Sharon Astyk is a leader in creating a new approach by showing how we can create sustainable food systems and a vibrant local economy through buying, growing, preparing and eating local food.”

Sharon Astyk is a farmer near Albany, NY, and an expert on building individual and community resilience in the face of an uncertain future. She has authored several books including A Nation of Farmers: Defeating the Food Crisis on American Soil (co-author Aaron Newton), Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Homefront, and Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation. Ms. Astyk is a member of the Board of Directors for ASPO-USA (Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas-USA) and is a prolific, insightful blogger whose posts regularly appear in the Energy Bulletin and at Science Blogs.

This program to be held at the First Parish Church of Newbury at 20 High Road is sponsored by the Central Congregational Church (UCC), First Parish Church, First Religious Society of Newburyport (UU), New Eden Collaborative, Northshore Permaculture, Pennies for Poverty: 2 Cents for Change, Newburyport Farmers Market and Transition Newburyport.  The program is free and open to the public.

For inquiries please contact

Calling all Health Professionals & Community Food Activists!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

snap.gifInterested in learning more about how Seacoast Eat Local is working to bring the use of Food Stamps to area farmers’ markets? If you work in healthcare, nutrition, or in the community with low income families, Seacoast Eat Local invites you to participate in a focus group this Saturday, March 26th at 11 a.m.


All states now use Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) — an electronic system that allows customers to use government-issued benefit debit cards to pay for food — to issue Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as food stamps). Although there is no requirement that farmers’ markets use EBT systems, doing so provides a great public benefit to those who otherwise don’t have access to fresh, healthy, local produce.


We will meet at the Winter Farmers’ Market in Rollinsford, giving participants the opportunity to see the farmers’ market in action. Bring your passion for a healthy Seacoast community and help us create a successful SNAP/EBT (Food Stamps) outreach program!


SNAP/EBT (Food Stamps) Focus Group 

• Place: Winter Farmers Market, Wentworth Greenhouses, 141 Rollins Rd, Rollinsford, NH (1 mile past Red’s Shoe Barn in Dover)

• Date: Saturday, March 26, 2011

• Time: 11:00 AM

• Directions & Parking: Additional parking is available at Salmon Falls Pottery, located right around the corner, with a free shuttle service that brings you directly to the Winter Farmers’ Market. For map & directions >

• RSVP & Contact: Sarah Jacobson, 607-275-7499 or

Share Your Love, February 9th

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

share-your-love-poster_final.jpgShare Your Love, one of the two annual events of Share Our Strenth in the Seacoast area, is coming up on Wed. February 9th from 6:30-10 at RiRa.  It will be an amazing evening featuring the 100 Club, Wentworth By the Sea, Massimo’s, Mombo and RiRa.

Thanks to the generosity of the volunteer chefs/restaurants and corporate sponsors, Trade Wings & Green Pages, 100% of the proceeds from the Share Your Love dinner go to support Cooking Matters, a hands-on cooking-based nutrition education program.
Volunteer chefs, nutritionists and financial advisors work with host agencies to teach at-risk adults, teens and kids how to prepare simple, healthy meals with very limited budgets & resources.

Right here in our community there are still many families living on the edge, depending on free/reduced meals at schools and getting groceries at food pantries. Just for example, the Seacoast Food Pantry in downtown Portsmouth actively serves 520 families and 384 children under 18.

The Cooking Matters classes are hosted by agencies here in our communities such as: Portsmouth – New Heights, Greenland – New Generations, Dover – Head Start/Housing Authority,  Newmarket – Lamprey HC, Exeter – New Outlook Teen Center.

So, if you’d like to treat yourselves to a memorable night out, you’ll be enjoying great food while supporting an effective program having a real impact right here in our neighborhoods. Even if you can’t make it, please forward along to help spread the word.

You can purchase your tickets by going to: and clicking the “Buy Tickets Here” on the right side of the page.

NH Food Bank: Recipe for Success

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

dtcommonstreamsstreamservercls.jpegThe New Hampshire Food Bank’s program, Recipe for Success, brings new solutions to helping those in need, and was the subject of a recent article in New Hampshire Magazine:


Class Action: Feeding the needy and training new chefs in the process


If there ever was a perfect usage for the saying “win-win,” the New Hampshire Food Bank’s Recipe for Success program surely is it.


Chef Jayson McCarter has the task of training student chefs to cook the after-school meal each weekday for the Manchester Boys and Girls Club, dinner for residents of Hampshire House, a halfway house on Elm Street, in addition to 150 meals daily for the Homeless Service Center also in Manchester. Along the way the student chefs, from difficult situations themselves, gain independence with new skills as they graduate and get real jobs in the marketplace.


As more than a repository and distribution center, the Food Bank, with its outreach programs, uses donated resources and doubles their effectiveness as meals. While baskets of canned goods are still boxed up for food pantries, cooked meals prepared here are frozen and distributed to 20 to 30 agencies across the state from the central location in Manchester.


The Recipe for Success program, administered by Helen Costello, began in May of 2008 at the Food Bank’s former location near the mills in Manchester. Now, with the opening of beautiful new headquarters on East Industrial Park Drive off of Candia Road, the students are working in a truly professional kitchen. In addition to heavy-duty stove tops and a pizza oven, there are several huge steam jacketed kettles that can tilt for pouring out the contents – perfect for soups, stews and chilis. The commercial ovens are used for preparing pans of lasagne and other one-pot meals that can be transported and reheated easily. An oven with a $5,000 price tag still attached was sitting idle. Chef McCarter says he is waiting for funds to get it installed, which will add to his production capabilities.


The gleaming new kitchen is impressive indeed, with blue ceramic tiles and lively tangerine-colored walls. Along one side of the kitchen is tiered seating for the students to observe and do any book and pencil homework. And there is plenty of that. Each student completes training for ServSafe certification. This certificate gives students a leg up – it saves employers the $200 it would cost to train an employee in standard sanitary practices.


The Recipe for Success classes run in eight-week sessions (260 hours) and students are taught the basics, enough to land them a job on the line or doing prep work. From there they are only limited by their ambition. Most executive chefs are willing to train eager employees to their professional standards. Students are also given additional training on social skills and résumé writing, along with a letter of recommendation when they graduate. There are no guarantees of employment but both Chef McCarter and Costello have relationships with potential employers all over the state.


So far, 101 students have passed muster and graduated. One recent graduate, John Ducharme, is now head chef at the newly opened Old Theater Restaurant & Tavern at 6 School St. in Peterborough.


The Recipe for Success program is free, though student receive a nominal stipend for transportation costs. Applicants need to be unemployed or underemployed. Student Cassandra Mackie of Manchester was a hairstylist but found it difficult work with a recent shoulder injury. “I was intrigued by owning my own catering business someday, and when this opportunity arose I jumped right in,” says Mackie. Wendy Duprat, also of Manchester, is a single parent and found the class listed on Craigslist. She says, “It makes me feel good that I am helping to feed homeless people and children good food. I have worked at school lunch programs in Nashua and know that kids don’t always make the right choices…”


To read rest of article online and for more information about how you can help:


Food Donations Welcome: The New Hampshire Food Bank will be at the Winter Farmers’ Market in Exeter, January 8, to accept food donations from consumers and vendors. Fresh foods are encouraged; consider buying extra potatoes, onions, root vegetables, or winter squash to donate so that all may share in our bounty of local foods. Donations of cash or canned foods are also welcome. In addition, Meadow’s Mirth Farm offers a 10% discount to shoppers looking to purchase for the food pantry — their carrots, onions and squash are great foods for donation. For more information about Saturday’s market in Exeter, please visit

Supporting positive change in our communities, donations welcome

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Applecrest Farm

As we round out 2010, my email inbox is inundated with requests from great organizations for end of the year tax deductible donations. I’m sure yours is, too. At Seacoast Eat Local, we haven’t always been the most bold at asking for donations.


As we’ve grown as an organization (hosting 11 Winter Farmers’ Market events each season, a growing email/facebook/web network, the annual publication of Seacoast Harvest, up to 8,000 copies this year, co-hosting workshops, events, festivals and serving as an information hub for locally grown food on the seacoast as well as an important resource for farmers) and looking forward to our additional ambitious goals in the next few years (most notably, bringing the ability for farmers’ markets to accept SNAP/food stamps to our area), we’ve been able to accomplish a lot on a pretty bare bones budget.


We’ve had organizationally significant and timely support from two organizations that we’d like to thank again here. The New England Grassroots Environment Fund, out of Vermont, gives small grants to grassroots groups. They funded our second year of Seacoast Harvest, allowing us to expand from a small, 4 page brochure to the comprehensive resource it is today. They also currently serve as our fiscal agent, accepting donations and grants on our behalf and making themselves generally available as an incredible resource. The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation Piscataqua Region provided us with a grant that is now allowing us to undergo a strategic planning process as we grow into a more sustainable organization. They have also provided an initial grant for the SNAP project bringing food stamps to farmers’ markets. They have pledged partial funding (50% of the first year) for the next three years.


Which brings me to the ask. While we still believe you can get a lot done with not a lot of money and our current budgets reflect an 85% volunteer run organization, the scope of what we are trying to accomplish has grown significantly. If you can give a financial donation, we will put your money to good use. You can donate online or email to mail a donation.


Donate to Seacoast Eat Local

Specify Seacoast Eat Local as your donation destination. New England Grassroots Environment Fund (NEGEF) is Seacoast Eat Local’s 501(c)3 tax deductible fiscal agent


This community is incredible, and there are a lot of ways to contribute to positive change in the area of local food and agriculture, from shopping for locally grown foods and forwarding our email newsletters to growing your own garden and sharing some of the harvest with a food pantry. The growth of Seacoast Eat Local is a direct reflection of the growth of interest and actions of all of you – we want to thank you for however you participate in supporting the health of our environment, community, culture and economy through local food and agriculture.


Happy New Year from Seacoast Eat Local!

MOOMilk and Wayside to Provide Milk to Those in Need

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

waysidebanner.gif‘Tis the season for sharing — MOOMilk and Wayside Food Programs have teamed up to provide fresh, organic Maine milk to those who otherwise could not afford it:


MOOMilk and Wayside Food Programs partner to provide organic milk


All of us who work hard every day to bring you Maine’s Own Organic Milk (our farmers, our business partners, and our cows) want to thank you for your support and encouragement during the first year of our company. You have purchased our milk, offered your comments and criticism, and helped spread the word that Maine now has its own brand of pastuerized organic milk; milk that is produced, transported, processed and distributed by Maine family businesses. We are grateful and we thank you.


The holiday season seems an appropriate time to introduced you to our newest partner, Wayside Food Programs. Wayside is a local, Portland-based organization that runs food kitchens and supplies food to shelters, food pantries and other social service agencies in the Southern Maine area. Now you can help our MOOMilk farmers sell more milk and at the same time help Wayside bring pure Maine organic milk to Maine people who otherwise could not afford it. You can learn more about Wayside by clicking HERE.


Wayside receives much of its food through donations from restaurants, retailers and food producers, but on occasion it still needs to purchase food to meet the needs of its clients. The biggest food expense it has is fresh milk. You can help Wayside cut down on that expense by purchasing MOOMilk, which we will deliver on your behalf to Wayside.


The program works like this.

You purchase whatever amount of milk you wish directly from MOOMilk, at less than retail prices. MOOmilk will send you a receipt for the milk you purchased, and will then turn the milk directly over to Wayside on your behalf. Wayside will then send you a receipt for the donation of the milk, which you may use to claim a deduction on your federal income tax if you wish. (Wayside is a 501(c)3 organization, so donations of food or money to it are tax deductible).


The milk you buy will be freshly produced milk, always with more than a full week of freshness date on it, and is kept properly stored in the Oakhurst Dairy distribution center in Portland until Wayside picks it up. Wayside will pick up this donated milk twice a week and distribute it immediately throughout southern Maine.


You can purchase as much milk as you wish under this program, using either the online buttons or by check using the order form you can download HERE. Or you may place an order over the phone by calling David Bright, MOOMilk’s Secretary and Deputy Treasurer, at 207-234-4226.


Your donation to this program will not only help Wayside Kitchen feed the hungry, it will help our MOOMilk farms by increasing the market for their milk.


Thank you for your support of Wayside Kitchen and of the Maine farm families who make up Maine’s Own Organic Milk Company.


For more information about the program and how to donate, please visit