Location: Bowdoin / McKeen Center / Activity / 2009 / Addressing Hunger in MidCoast Maine during Turbulent Times

Addressing Hunger in MidCoast Maine during Turbulent Times

Story posted December 15, 2008

As the economy continues to face new pressures and businesses across the country struggle to adjust to new times, one place in Maine is seeing a marked increase in demand: the MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program (MCHPP).  Located just a few blocks from the Bowdoin campus behind Hannaford Market, MCHPP has long been a community partner.  Today, however, that partnership is seeing an even greater sense of importance as everything gets a little closer to home.

Many people don’t know that MCHPP is more than just a soup kitchen.  In fact, that’s just one of their programs.  Though there are five distinct programs within the agency, they all have one common thread - the reduction of hunger.  They do this not only by providing on-site meals, but also by providing clients with the opportunity to obtain food to prepare meals at home, and by providing strategies for sustainable living education designed to empower and assist consumers to become more self-sufficient.

MCHPP has partnered with the College through service-learning classes and is a frequent stop for volunteers who help out with a variety of tasks in food preparation and organization. Food Forward, a student-led volunteer service organization on campus, delivers fresh food that would have otherwise gone to waste from Bowdoin's Dining Service on a daily basis.

Last December MCHPP and Bowdoin partnered up again, this time over Maine’s specialty, fresh lobsters from Harpswell.  With lobster at its lowest price in years, lobstermen looking for buyers, and MCHPP in need of renewed support, Food Forward volunteers hosted a special Taste for Change dinner in Thorne Hall to raise both awareness about and funds for MCHPP's mission.  41 students, 2 faculty members, and 5 community members joined together to raise $600 for the organization.  Cyndy Carney, Executive Director of MCHPP, also attended and led a conversation after dinner about the current state of MidCoast Maine as it relates to hunger.

“Our need is growing just like crazy; it’s very scary,” Carney said at the dinner.  She mentioned how a year ago the soup kitchen prepared 120 lunches per day, but that recently, 150 has been considered a slow day.  Just a few weeks ago, they hit a record 191 lunches served in just one day.  Support from Bowdoin—volunteers, food donations, and financial contributions—helps MCHPP to continue to focus on its mission of reducing hunger in MidCoast Maine at a time when that very task becomes more difficult by the day.

“Our partnership with MCHPP is an important part of Bowdoin’s mission to serve the Common Good” says Ian Yaffe ’09, Director of Program Administration for Food Forward and Executive Chef of Taste for Change. “It also goes way beyond just volunteer hours and dollars: Dining Service prepares and packages food donations, students deliver food and volunteer, professors include the program in their classes and research, and staff members host food drives—so many people on campus come together over this one issue.”

Watch BCN's reporting on the Taste for Change Lobster Dinner in December.

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Our partnership with MCHPP is an important part of Bowdoin's mission to serve the Common Good
— Ian Yaffe '09