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Originally published in Castine Patriot, September 6, 2018 and Island Ad-Vantages, September 6, 2018 and The Weekly Packet, September 6, 2018
Healthy Acadia, area restaurants join forces to increase food security

On September 15, restaurants in Hancock and Washington counties will be raising funds for food security as part of Healthy Acadia’s “Hungry for Health 2018” campaign. Participating restaurants have pledged to donate a portion of the day’s earnings to support Healthy Acadia’s Healthy Food for All programs, which strive to address food insecurity and improve nutrition for individuals and families in Hancock and Washington counties.

This is the third year of Healthy Acadia’s annual “Hungry for Health” campaign, which addresses a critical community health need each year. Restaurants can participate at any time during the year and organize an event that best fits their restaurant. Many restaurants are participating in “Restaurant Day” on September 15, according to a press release.

According to Good Shepherd Food Bank—Maine’s largest hunger relief organization—16.4 percent of Maine’s households are considered “food insecure,” which makes Maine the seventh most food-insecure state in the nation. Child food insecurity rates in our region are even higher: in Washington County, 23.4 percent, nearly 1 in 4 children, live in food-insecure households. The number is only slightly lower in Hancock County, where 20 percent, or 1 in 5, children are food-insecure.

While there is plenty of food to go around, economic and political obstacles prevent food from reaching those who need it. Inexpensive, high-calorie processed foods end up being the most accessible option for some people, which puts them at greater risk for developing diet-related diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

Healthy Acadia’s Downeast Gleaning Initiative establishes partnerships between farms and food pantries to ensure that those who are experiencing financial hardships have access to fresh and nutritious local fruits and vegetables. With the help of volunteers, students, and farmers, the Gleaning Initiative harvests and collects farm surplus that would otherwise go to waste. The program works closely with food pantries, soup kitchens, the Ellsworth WIC clinic, and recovery programs to redistribute the food throughout area communities for individuals and families in need.

Healthy Acadia also organizes the Hancock County Food Drive and the Washington County Turkey-a-Thon, annual events that raise critical support for food pantries, meal programs and backpack programs. The organization also plays a coordinating role in the Senior FarmShare Program by encouraging local farmers to participate in the program and recruiting seniors to sign up.

Participating area restaurants include The Brooklin Inn in Brooklin, El El Frijoles in Sargentville and Serendib in Ellsworth. Learn more about participating restaurants by visiting HealthyAcadia.org. To host an event, get involved, or make a direct donation, contact rachel@HealthyAcadia.org. />