Neighbors Driving Neighbors President Harald Bredesen, left, and Executive Director Joe Austin outside the Mount Vernon Community Center. Submitted photo

Neighbors Driving Neighbors is the recipient of a $10,000 grant from Maine Council on Aging through Hannaford Supermarket’s Connection, Health and Equity Through Food (CHEF) program. CHEF was launched in 2023 to improve the health and well-being of diverse older adults through greater access to food and social connection.

Neighbors Driving Neighbors’ mission is to enrich the communities it serves by coordinating volunteer drivers for those who do not drive, so they can more easily stay in their homes.

“Thanks to this generous grant, we will be able to implement a multi-pronged project of outreach in cooperation with local Aging-in-Place committees, food pantries and ‘destination’ organizations, such as medical centers and grocery stores. Our aim is to inform and create awareness of our services, with the goal of addressing food insecurity, social isolation and barriers to accessing food or social connection,” NDN Executive Director Joe Austin said in a news release from Neighbors Driving Neighbors.

The CHEF grant will strengthen NDN’s sustainability by helping to recruit younger drivers and new riders to maintain continuity and growth of services. NDN will be able to expand rides related to food security and socialization services to reduce medical risk factors and improve the physical and mental health of older adults in the six area communities it serves — Belgrade, Fayette, Mount Vernon, Readfield, Rome and Vienna.

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