MGV: Food Insecurity and Volunteerism


I've been accepted to and have commenced my training as a Master Gardener Volunteer.  As a part of my training, I'm required to keep journal entries. I figured I'd just add them here, thinking my readers may enjoy hearing what the program entails. 

The first module focused on food insecurity.  I must admit that I am very removed from this topic, having never experienced food insecurity myself.  I'm so fortunate that I grew up having plenty and also learned how to grow and raise my own.  My kids have had a similar childhood.  As a part of the assignment, we had to look up our county's status at Map the Meal Gap. You can look up your area.  In the county I live in (York County ,Maine), there were 19,670 people who experienced food insecurity in 2020, which is 9.5% of the population. In the county I grew up in (St. Lawrence County, New York), there were 14,660 people who experienced food insecurity in 2020, which is 13.5% of the population.  Food insecurity for our country is 11.8%. These are just alarming rates, especially considering all the food we waste.  These numbers are our neighbors! 

There are many things going on already to combat this. I was unaware of gleaning efforts in our town (Spillers Farm) that Master Gardener Volunteers participate in.  While I have purchased things for the food pantry here and there for a number of years, I have only dropped a load of produce I grew once and dropped off seedlings I started once. Once I led my 4-Hers to make cookies and donate.  I've also dropped off pumpkin bread at a homeless shelter a couple of times. I volunteered in a soup kitchen with my kids once. Tiny small things that are something, but not enough. I'm inspired to do more and do so regularly. I could do a much better job gleaning from my own garden. Before Covid, we had signed up to help at our local food pantry and no one showed up for that shift to put us to work. We did have a random person who gave us a tour, but I must admit that I was discouraged from that one non successful visit. I think it's time to try again. I have a personal goal for our family to do better this year in helping this food insecurity problem.  Something each month seems attainable.  I had the kids fill a bag at the grocery store this week and we just donated that.  Small things to spark a series of doing more to help in 2023.  If many of us work at this, we can make a difference. 

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