Food Insecurity Defined:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle. It is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.
Though hunger is certainly linked with food insecurity, it is not necessarily the same thing. Hunger is an individual-level physiological condition that can be a result of being food insecure, as someone experiencing food insecurity will also likely be experiencing hunger. But food insecurity is a lack of nutritious food and tends to be an issue of access. (See "THREE PILLARS.")
Food insecurity is complex, as Feeding America notes:
"It does not exist in isolation, as low-income families are affected by multiple, overlapping issues like affordable housing, social isolation, health problems, medical costs, and low wages."
These overlapping issues build upon each other, and addressing food insecurity effectively often requires a response to more than just food access.
THREE PILLARS: The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies three pillars that determine food security:
Food availability: access to sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis
Food insecurity can be a long-term or a short-term event.
Food access: having sufficient resources and socially acceptable means to obtain appropriate foods or a nutritious diet
Fast food or highly processed foods that are insufficient sources of nutrients are not solutions to food insecurity.
Access to transportation, nearness to grocery stores, and high food prices are all examples of factors that affect food access.
Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of nutrition and food preparation
AmeriCorps VISTA at the Morris Farm
IN PAST YEARS: The Morris Farm AmeriCorps VISTA Food Security Project began in 2014 in order to support the Morris Farm as we worked to enhance food security in the greater midcoast area, one aspect of our mission. Its goals are to develop the capacity of the Morris Farm to serve those facing food insecurity directly and to provide structures for local organizations and farmers to work together.
Our farm store reopened in 2014 after about a decade of closure in order to address the lack of healthy, nutritious, and affordable foods in the community and to provide a retail outlet for local farms. Our Take-What-You-Need Farm Stand opened in 2020 to address the lack of healthy, locally grown foods available for all members of the community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Morris Farm also hosts an annual Food Security Forum, in partnership with the Chewonki Foundation. This conference brings together a variety of local organizations and individuals who work on this issue in our community, as well as others from around the state.
CURRENT VISTA PROJECT: In 2020, the Morris Farm began a new VISTA project, which involved starting the Take-What-You-Need Farm Stand (TWYN Farm Stand). It works to connect low-income community members to local food and produce, while acting as a resource for nutrition information, meal planning, food storage and other essential skills. The TWYN Farm Stand offers free, locally grown food to the public in efforts to increase food security in Lincoln County. It is open 7 days a week and is stocked 5 days a week. All of the produce is donated by local farmers and gardeners, and serves as a way to connect food excess with low-income populations. Monetary and in-kind donations to the Farm Stand go directly to supporting food security projects at the Morris Farm.
If you are interested in donating produce or would like to learn more about the free-produce farm stand, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2015 the Morris Farm AmeriCorps/VISTA food security project initiated a community-wide forum to address food insecurity, to bring together those active in the local food community to talk about what was being done. The Local Food, Local Hunger Annual Community Forum on Food Security in Lincoln County has grown steadily since then – in recent years, the forum has drawn 120 participants, with 50 organizations, mostly local, represented. Despite its growth, the goal continues to be to engage community members in a dialogue on securing healthy food for all while improving Maine’s food system. Each year, the FSF spotlights a different aspect of local hunger. Past years have covered short-term & long-term solutions to hunger, food waste, food as medicine, and how food systems function, including a focus on how Lincoln County’s food system in particular functions.
Focus on Agriculture in Rural Maine Schools
Lincoln, Knox, Waldo
Veggies to Table
FOOD PANTRIES IN LINCOLN COUNTY:
Organizations Working on Food Security
Sagadahoc, Brunswick, Harpswell
Androscoggin, Cumberland, Lewiston, Augusta
Piscataquis,Washington, Hancock, Penobscot
Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Lincoln,
Oxford, Sagadahoc, Somerset
14 towns surrounding Merrymeeting Bay
Topsham, Bowdoinham, Brunswick, Bath
in conjunction with Merrymeeting Food Council