We were very proud to co-host the 3rd annual “Local Food, Local Hunger” forum on food security on March 2nd. The forum, co-hosted with the Morris Farm Trust, a Wiscasset nonprofit devoted to community, education, and agriculture, attracted over 120 attendees including, farmers, program administrators, interested citizens and students from Coastal Studies for Girls in Freeport and Cultivating Community in Portland.
Many Maine Coast Semester students attended, and eight facilitated the concluding breakout session of the day. Inviting students to participate in this way moved them from being passive listeners to active contributors, says Chewonki Farm Manager Megan Phillips, who helped design the event.
“We wanted to make them see that they have a voice,” said Phillips. “It was an amazing opportunity for them to walk into a group cold and facilitate a discussion similar to the ones we’re having in the semester but with a broader mix of people, with different experiences and of different ages.”
The focus this year was on food recovery, encompassing (among other things) the reduction of the volume of surplus food and the amount of food that ends up in landfills; composting; and gleaning good-quality food that mainstream markets cannot sell because it doesn’t conform to conventional standards of appearance, then using it to feed hungry people.
Hannah Semler of Healthy Acadia was the keynote speaker and illuminated important relationships between food recovery and healthy, food-secure communities. Other speakers addressed strategies for hunger prevention, especially among children and the elderly, through multiple venues in Maine.
The Local Food, Local Hunger forum provided meaningful real-world, local context for what semester students are learning on the farm, in the kitchen, and in their classes here at Chewonki.