158143 Building a food pantry network to improve food systems in a rural coastal region

Monday, November 5, 2007: 8:50 AM

Barbara J. Peppey, MA, MSW , Healthy Peninsula, Blue Hill, ME
Doug Michael, MPH , Healthy Acadia Coalition, Bar Harbor, ME
Heather M. Albert-Knopp, BA , Consultant, Penobscot, ME
Timothy Fuller, BA , Healthy Maine Partnerships, Healthy Acadia Coalition, Bar Harbor, ME
Joan M. Atkinson, MS, RD , Muskie School, University of Southern Maine, Augusta, ME
Jamar E. Croom, MS , Maine Nutrition Network, Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine, Augusta, ME
Anne-Marie Davee, MS RD , Muskie School, University of Southern Maine, Augusta, ME
Healthy Acadia and Healthy Peninsula, two Healthy Maine Partnerships, provided technical assistance and engaged food pantry partners to develop the Hancock County Food Pantry Network (HCFPN). The HCFPN, comprised of twelve food pantries, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, and pantry directors meet bi-monthly to share expertise and resources, identify mutual concerns, and take action to resolve problems. As an organized voice, HCFPN was able to advocate for stronger distribution systems and augment the USDA food commodities in Hancock County. The HCFPN was successful in assuring distribution of its county's backlogged allotment of UDSA commodities (~70,000 pounds) through advocacy with the State Emergency Food Program and its local distributor, while also re-instating the regular bi-monthly ordering of commodities. Additionally, sub-regional transportation routes were established among pantries to assure efficient distribution of food purchased at the regional food bank. By extending its reach to partnerships with local growers and Cooperative Extension's Plant-a-Row program, the HCFPN has also established mechanisms to assure regular donations of fresh produce, thereby enhancing nutrition for pantry clients. The work of the HCFPN demonstrates the effectiveness of a mutual support network as both a ‘means' and an ‘end' on the path of systematically addressing community food assistance and security. Community organizers and nutrition leaders working to improve food security in rural low-income populations need to be responsive to the dynamics of local food systems as well as the opportunities to improve food systems through collaborative partnerships.

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of this session, participants will be able to: 1. Recognize the importance of collaborative networks in building efficient food systems. 2. Articulate barriers to food security in rural areas.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.