RUMFORD- Sandra Witas, coordinator of the Feed Me Food Club through River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition, recently delivered fresh, organic Maine-grown produce to residents of Rumford Island Housing.
Every other week, the Feed Me Food Club opens for members to order a variety of fresh, frozen, organic and canned foods from farms around Maine. The following week, Crown of Maine delivers those orders to the healthy communities office for distribution to members.
According to Witas, “In the past six months, RVHCC has been actively working with the Western Mountains Alliance (WMA) to bring another local food access point to low income senior/disabled community members living in Rumford.”
“WMA was awarded a two-year grant from the AARP Foundation in 2011 to create and foster the growth of online local food buying clubs in Androscoggin and Oxford Counties. RVHCC was approached very early on in the process, but there were too many barriers that had to be overcome before a program like the one they were proposing could work.”
“Last year, after much thought and communication with staff at the Muskie Building, an eighty-eight unit, low-income apartment complex in downtown Rumford, we were able to launch and administer a “sub-club” of an existing buying club twenty miles away in Greenwood. There has been a good response and a solid commitment from those residents that are ordering from this “sub-club.”
With things moving more slowly than anticipated, the initiative of a local food club was offered through a six-month grant extension to RVHCC.
Witas explained, “Through this initiative, RVHCC received money to launch its’ own club, not knowing Western Mountains Alliance was going to fund us for our own club. RVHCC was working on a grant to be submitted to the Maine Community Foundation. After receiving the AARP funding RVHCC amended its proposal to 25 percent of the original amount, but the proposal was fully funded. With that said, RVHCC will continue to work over the next year to target facilities like Rumford Island Housing (Muskie) and bring more people in the River Valley to more Maine goods.”
For more information on how you can become a member of the Feed Me Food Club, contact Sandra Witas at 364-7408.