Maine Harvest for Hunger, a program coordinated by University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has distributed more than three million pounds of food since the year 2000 to citizens facing hunger.

The program mobilizes Master Gardeners, home gardeners, farmers, businesses, schools, and civic groups to grow, glean, and donate quality produce to distribution sites (pantries, shelters, community meals) and directly to neighbors in need. In 2019, the program donated more than 193,000 pounds of fresh produce from more than 120 Maine farms; the food was delivered to 207 distribution sites.

According to USDA Economic Research Service, Maine has the highest rate of food insecurity in New England. USDA estimates over 13.6 percent of Maine households — more than 182,000 individuals — are food insecure. According to Feeding America, 18.5 percent of Maine children experienced food insecurity in 2017.

Educational programs have focused on teaching food recipients appropriate methods of cooking and using fresh produce. Extension programs help teach Mainers to grow more of their own fresh garden produce. Maine has approximately 130 community gardens; more than 30 have added a Maine Harvest for Hunger area and contributed almost 20,000 pounds in 2019.

For more information, visit extension.umaine.edu.