UMaine News

Maine Hunger Dialogue begins Oct. 20

Food waste and recovery will be the focus of the 4th Annual Maine Hunger Dialogue beginning at noon Oct. 20 and running until 2:15 p.m Oct. 21., at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. During the event, roughly 150 students and staff from 20 universities and colleges statewide will pack 10,000 nutritious, nonperishable meals for Maine food pantries.

Maine Hunger Dialogue is partnering with the Campus Kitchens Project, whose 60 chapters across the U.S. have recovered over 6.5 million pounds of food, and prepared and delivered over 3 million meals to students and community members in need.

Maine Hunger Dialogue is offering three $1,000 student fellowships to inspire food waste and recovery efforts on participants’ home campuses. In addition, eight $500 mini-grants are available to participating Maine Hunger Dialogue college and university students to help launch campus-based hunger alleviation and education programs. Fellowship and mini-grant applications are due in December.

Delivering the keynote address will be author and CEO of Hunger Free America Joel Berg. Other speakers include Alex Moore, author and hunger activist at DC Central Kitchen and Campus Kitchens Project; Scarion Rupia, sustainable agriculture professional from Tanzania, and Dixie Shaw, hunger activist with Catholic Charities of Maine.

In addition to discussing food insecurity issues, participants will hone skills to design, communicate and launch effective community-supported hunger-alleviation projects. Planning team members will provide coaching and technical assistance.

During previous Maine Hunger Dialogues, 340 faculty and students from 20 college campuses and a high school committed to action plans to address hunger in their respective communities. Twenty-nine campus teams were awarded $500 grants for hunger-alleviation projects that were used to establish or maintain campus food pantries, as well as plant campus-based community gardens to produce fresh vegetables for local food pantries and for students with low incomes. Other projects created campus food recovery networks to redirect cafeteria surplus to local food security organizations, as well as promoted campus hunger awareness and student engagement activities, and organized fundraisers that resulted in $2,500 for the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program.

“By focusing on campuses and surrounding communities across the state, students can make a real difference in people’s lives, as well as gain career skills, raise awareness of and work toward ending food insecurity in Maine,” says Frank Wertheim, York County Extension educator of agriculture and horticulture. “Next year, we’ll come back together to share and develop new projects and continue to elevate the effort to reduce insecurity among our families, neighbors and friends.”

Lisa Morin, coordinator of UMaine’s Bodwell Center for Service and Volunteerism, says she’s excited about the support received, which has allowed the event to continue for a fourth year. “These students want to make a difference and the Maine Hunger Dialogue is helping them to achieve sustainable change,” she says.

The planning team includes University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Maine Campus Compact, faculty and staff from multiple Maine college campuses, businesses and community volunteers.

The $35 fee includes meals. Register and find more information online. To request a disability accommodation contact Linda McLaughlin, linda.mclaughlin1@maine.edu; 207.768.9740.

Contact: Linda McLaughlin, 207.768.9740