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.

 

The VISTA project set up the mechanisms to serve and educate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries through the farm store and to offer a subsidy program called Farm Fresh Rewards, a USDA program that is administered through the Maine Farmland Trust. FFR stretches SNAP benefits and furthers the buying power of its beneficiaries, making local foods much more accessible than they might otherwise be.

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 2019, the Morris Farm began a new VISTA project, which aims to start a Veggie Power Buying Club that will connect low-income community members to local food and produce and act as a resource for nutrition information, meal planning, food storage and other essential skills. The Local Food Buying Club will make locally-grown produce affordable to participants through the use Farm Fresh Rewards, and will also benefit local food producers – as access to local products is expanded, so too are the local producers’ markets.

If you are interested in participating in such a club or would like to be a part of the developmental process, please email vista@morrisfarm.org

Local Food,
Local Hunger

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.

Organizations Working on Food Security

MAINE:

Access Health 

Sagadahoc, Brunswick, Harpswell

Area Interfaith Outreach 

Knox

Cultivating Community 

Androscoggin, Cumberland, Lewiston, Augusta

Cumberland County Food Security Council

Cumberland

Eastern Maine Area Agency on Aging 

Piscataquis,Washington, Hancock, Penobscot

Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn  

Lewiston, Auburn

Good Shepherd Food Bank 

Mainers Feeding Mainers

Youth and Family Initiatives

Growing to Give 

Brunswick

HealthReach 

Androscoggin, Franklin, Kennebec, Lincoln, Oxford, Sagadahoc, Somerset

Healthy Acadia 

Hancock, Washington

Healthy Kennebec 

central Maine

Healthy Waterville Action Team 

Waterville

Locker Project 

southern Maine

Maine Network of Community Food Councils

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Chapters

Maine School Garden Network

Maine SNAP Education

Merrymeeting Food Council 

14 towns surrounding Merrymeeting Bay