2017 Solidarity Harvest Highlights

Over the past 15 years, Food AND Medicine and the Eastern, Western, and Southern Maine Labor Councils have worked with unions, labor-friendly businesses, community organizations, food pantries and faith-based organizations to distribute meals to thousands of families across all 16 counties in Maine. We have shown solidarity with over 100 farmers during that time by intentionally purchasing surplus produce to fill each meal basket with locally grown food. In 2017, we were able to raise funds to cover the costs of distributing Thanksgiving meals to individuals and families facing hard times.

The following summary of accomplishments demonstrates our success:

  • 1,327 meal baskets were distributed to laid-off, unemployed and underemployed workers and families from all 16 counties in Maine. In 2016, 1,300 meals were distributed; unfortunately, the need grows each year.
  • Fresh produce was purchased from over 40 local farms; rolls and butter from local food producers, which all helps to promote the local Maine economy.
  • Over 54,000 pounds of fresh vegetables, over 1,300 boxes of stuffing and more!
  • Committee members met regularly during the year, providing project leadership.
  • More than 450¬†volunteers including many children¬†gave of their time to source food, raise funds, sort and fill meal baskets.
  • 65 unions and 3 Labor Councils sponsored and gave out meal baskets; over 120 organizations participated in Solidarity Harvest this year.

Food AND Medicine partners not only with unions throughout the state, but also with many organizations in the Bangor region to identify those in need. Many of these organizations are facing budget cuts or restraints, and a partnership with Food AND Medicine allows their clients to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal they may not have otherwise received. We plan on continuing to partner with and strengthen local organizations in future Solidarity Harvests.

Included with each meal was a handout inviting people to tell us their story, along with a survey about the meal and Solidarity Harvest program. The outpouring of gratitude is incredibly touching. Many meal recipients indicated a desire to get involved with Food AND Medicine and/or as a volunteer for Solidarity Harvest in the future, which makes the volunteer process more rewarding for all involved.

2016 Solidarity Harvest Committee:

Kevin Gregory – Firemen & Oilers; Treasurer, Food AND Medicine Board of Directors
Jack McKay – President, Eastern Maine Labor Council and Director, Food AND Medicine
Cynthia Phinney – IBEW (retired); Western Maine Labor Council; and President, Maine AFL-CIO
Elizabeth O’Connor – AFSCME, Southern Maine Labor Council
Melissa Smith – Food AND Medicine Office Manager
Loren Snow – MSEA-SEIU (retired), Eastern Maine Labor Council, and Food AND Medicine Board of Directors
Adam Thiesen – Food AND Medicine Community Organizer
Bob Toole – IBEW; Eastern Maine Labor Council Recording Secretary; and President, Food AND Medicine Board of Directors

If you have any questions, including how you can get involved in Food AND Medicine or with future Solidarity Harvest programs, please reach out to us at FAM@foodandmedicine.org or call our office at 207-989-5860.