SOUTH PARIS — The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Maine Harvest for Hunger program had its most successful year in 2014, as more than 300 volunteers donated 240,937 pounds of fresh produce to 104 organizations from York County to Piscataquis County.
Since the program’s inception in 1999, volunteers have provided more than 1.8 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to people, food pantries and soup kitchens statewide.
According to Feeding America, a national umbrella organization for food banks, 206,000 Maine citizens — 15.5 percent of the population — experienced food insecurity in 2012, a 50 percent increase since 2004. Also according to Feeding America, 36 percent of food insecure Mainers did not qualify for government food assistance programs. Food insecurity and obesity can co-exist for individuals and families, and a goal is to replace high-calorie, nutrient-poor food donated to food pantries with fresh fruits and vegetables.
For more information on Maine Harvest for Hunger and how to participate, visit extension.umaine.edu/harvest-for-hunger or contact Barbara Murphy at 207-743-6329 or firstname.lastname@example.org.