Dance Away Hunger

Share the Harvest Hosts Soul Benders to help some of the 14.4% of MDI households that are food insecure

MOUNT DESERT—Dancing, listening to good music, and helping to feed yourself and your neighbors? It sounds like a miraculous combination, but that’s exactly what people can do at the Beech Hill Farm on Tuesday, September 13, at 6 P.M. when the Soul Benders host a concert to benefit the food access project, Share the Harvest

“This year, we are excited to announce that our primary fundraiser is open to the community and will include one of the best bands in town: the Soul Benders!!! We are spreading the word about this concert to our Share the Harvest participants, vendors who we work with at the farmers market, donors and trustees of College of the Atlantic, COA students, faculty, staff, and locals,” said Hannah Crea Frink, a COA senior who has coordinated the program for the past two years.

COA’s dynamic Share the Harvest Coordinators. Photos Courtesy of Hannah Crea Frink, via Facebook: @s.dragoti2000 ‘25 and @orreo36 ‘25

Share the Harvest provides support to more than 130 families and individuals on MDI, and according to its website “is the only farm-based food access program on Mount Desert Island and works in conjunction with existing programs to complement their efforts and meet specific needs that are not being served.”

It’s a collaboration between College of the Atlantic students and the farmers at Beech Hill Farm and according to the program’s application, they all work “as liaisons between low income residents, summer workers, and local food, ensuring access to the space, knowledge, and the resources that it takes to sustain an equitable food system. To benefit from our program, you must meet a certain income guideline and either be a summer worker or permanent resident in Hancock County.”

Courtesy of Share the Harvest

The Soul Benders’ concert will help fund the program where the doors open at 5 P.M. and there will be a pre-show student art and bake sale. Tickets will be sold on a sliding scale from $5 – $50 (pay more if you can).

Crea Frink said she’s excited about the new event and grateful for the community support. “I am so grateful that this event will allow us to be in community amidst the challenges that COVID has brought to our programs and events. We will celebrate this work by bringing in funds and therefore fresh, local food to over 130 participants of Share the Harvest. Thank you to my fellow student coordinators, volunteers, student artists, the Soul Benders, our participants, partner organizations, and BHF farm managers Anna and David for making this event possible!”

People need food not just during the holiday season or during the summer when local harvests are more bountiful, but all year.

“In the past, we have hosted an annual Havana dinner, which was great as a fundraiser but we wanted to have a more accessible event that could bring the community together in support of food access. In addition to great music, this event will also have a student art and bake sale, as well as Share the Harvest merchandise. The funds from this event will go directly to our programs, which help to make food from Beech Hill Farm and the Bar Harbor Farmers’ Market more accessible to low-income community members,” Crea Frink said.

The program launched in 2008 thanks to Healthy Acadia’s $1,000 start-up grant, and Beech Hill Farm customer donations. That summer the program gave out $50 farm stand vouchers to 20 island families. The next year, there wasn’t enough funds to continue the program, but in 2010, two College of the Atlantic students worked to make the program sustainable after attending a Launching A New Venture course at the college, which focused on the Share the Harvest’s business model.

The rest is history.

The organization hosts an annual fundraising dinner and hosts other fundraisers like the Soul Benders’ concert as well as receives donations at the farm stand, and sells merchandise and applies for grants.

Courtesy of Share the Harvest

FOOD INSECURITY

This week, the Biden administration announced that it wants to stop food insecurity and hunger in just eight years and will host a conference at the end of September toward that goal. There hasn’t been an administration-led conference on hunger since 1969. That Nixon-led conference helped create SNAP, the food stamps program, and child nutrition assistance such as the Women Infants and Children Program. In all, the conference made 1,800 recommendations.

According to the USDA, about 10.5% of households in the United States were food insecure in 2020. That percentage translates to 13.8 million Americans. Feeding America estimates that 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure in 2021. An article on Stacker estimates that the food insecurity rate in Hancock County is 8.3% higher than the rest of the country, with the insecurity rate for kids being 22.6% higher than the national average. That translates to 1,690 children and 6,420 total.

The USDA defines food insecurity as

“At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. Food-insecure households include those with low food security and very low food security.”

President Biden discussed food insecurity in a video presentation last week.

“Too many families don’t know where they are going to get their next meal,” he said. “There are too many empty chairs around the kitchen table because a loved one was taken by heart disease, diabetes or other diet oriented diseases which are some of the leading causes of death in our country.”

According to the Maine Department of Education, 1 in 4 Maine kids are “at risk for hunger” and 37% of those children aren’t poor enough for public assistance.

The University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension states that 14.4% of Maine households are food insecure; 16% of Maine seniors, and 1 in 5 children, so the statistics vary a bit. It also states that Maine is 9th in the nation for food insecurity.

Courtesy of Share the Harvest

BEECH HILL FARM

Beech Hill Farm manages and participates in several food access programs, including Share the Harvest, which distributes vouchers for its farm stand and the Bar Harbor Farmers’ Market to community members in need.


THE DETAILS

The Soul Benders features local musicians from Brooksville and MDI’s own Katherine Perkins, Danny Fisher Lochhead and Ryan Blotnick.

Soul Benders. Photo courtesy Soul Benders’ Facebook page

To hear them in action, check them out here.

You can join the band at Beech Hill Farm on Tuesday, September 13th at 6 p.m. for a concert to benefit the food access project, Share the Harvest.

Doors open at 5 p.m. You can come early for a student art and bake sale.

Tickets will be sold on a sliding scale from $5 – $50. You can pay more if you can.


TO LEARN MORE AND/OR POTENTIALLY PARTICIPATE IN SHARE THE HARVEST 

Last year’s application online.

Call for information: 207-801-0135


Contact them with any questions or ideas about helping lower food insecurity locally!

Share the Harvest
(207)-801-0135                    

Beech Hill Farm
(207) 244-5204


MORE RESOURCES:

https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-u-s/key-statistics-graphics/

https://stacker.com/maine/counties-highest-rate-food-insecurity-maine

https://www.maine.gov/doe/foodsecurity

A 2017 report on Maine’s food insecurity.

More about those statistics from UMaine.

NPR article about the Biden administration’s plan to end hunger by 2030.  

Biden’s remarks on the upcoming conference on hunger, nutrition and health.

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