RUMFORD – Two groups of local people have answered President-elect Barack Obama’s call for change with a list of ideas such as reconnecting people to local food, establishing a federal Department of Peace and setting up a Health Corps.

A Dinner for Change was hosted by farmer Annette Marin of the South Rumford Road, where 12 people offered ideas.

Marin’s daughter, Aimee Grimmel, a member of the local food cooperative, said the turnout reflected a good sampling of area residents who were mostly interested in local food.

Grimmel said she wanted people to learn how to cook with native vegetables, to show them that it’s easy to cook from fresh rather than from a box.

“People aren’t aware of why we should buy locally,” she said.

Marin compiled a list of nearly 20 topics sent to Obama. Among them were advocacy for subsidies for small businesses, expansion of farmers markets, provision of more local foods in schools, getting young people into farming and setting up community gardens.

The second group, scheduled to meet at the home of Marge and Fred Blonder on Severy Hill in East Dixfield, exchanged ideas via e-mail, because last week’s ice storm made traveling tough.

Marge Blonder said, via e-mail, that group’s list included setting up a Health Corps, similar to the current Peace Corps as part of an Obama-Biden health care policy, making organic gardening a top priority, returning the government to a more secular one, encouraging zero population growth and a green industrial revolution, holding the Bush administration accountable for the war in Iraq and capturing Osama bin Laden.

Marin may be contacted at [email protected] and the Blonders may be reached at [email protected]


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