FRIENDS OF MASCOMA FOUNDATION is pleased to announce our latest initiative designed to combat food insecurity: FRIENDS FEEDING FRIENDS.
Friends of Mascoma Foundation (FOM), a 501(c)(3), was formed by a group of community advocates committed to supporting the needs of the Mascoma Valley Regional School District (MVRSD). FOM provides financial support to the MVRSD on initiatives that foster educational development for our students.
Core areas that FOM focuses on are:
- Supporting students by funding supplemental educational opportunities and scholarships.
- Providing teachers with "mini grants" enabling them to offer additional educational programs to their students.
- Enhancing and improving the reputation of the District by helping highlight our community’s commitment to education.
- Supporting successful existing programs to include more students or enable more financial support to expand.
The FOM Board of Directors and other community volunteers have been busy donating time and raising money to provide teachers and children access to opportunities that are currently beyond their reach. Over the past 20 months, they have implemented student scholarship and teacher mini-grant programs (officially launching in January/February 2016), supported collaborations with community artists and craftspeople in the schools, successfully fund-raised for an elementary school warm clothing drive, instrument bank, obtained funds through grant writing, and supported previously established programs. The School Board and Administration have been very helpful in allowing FOM access and supporting their agenda.
During FOM’s fundraising and community activities, it has become very clear that the Mascoma Valley Regional School District (MVRSD) has a problem that plagues many rural and urban schools: food insecurity.
While there are many definitions to food insecurity, City Harvest (http://www.cityharvest.org/hunger-in-nyc/food-insecurity) describes it well:
“Food insecurity refers to USDA's measure of lack of access, at times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members; limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods. Food insecure households are not necessarily food insecure all of the time. Food insecurity may reflect a household's need to make trade-offs between important basic needs, such as housing or medical bills, and purchasing nutritionally adequate food.”
Over 40% of the Canaan Elementary School children and almost 30% of the Enfield Village School children qualify for free or reduced cost meals. The percentage is less in our middle and high school for many reasons, not the least of which may be children may not want to admit they lack adequate food at home.
The wonderful teachers and administrators of these schools have tried to assist by raising money and using their own money to help food insecure children get extra food to combat this issue. There are also various organizations in our 5 towns that try to make up the difference not only for children, but seniors, unemployed, disabled, and those with jobs that do not cover their food needs. In working with the teachers, administrators, and community organizations, it has become clear to FOM that this is not enough to move the District into a food secure state.
FOM, along with community volunteers, decided to take the steps outlined below to try and fill gaps where they exist:
- FOM became an agency of the NH Food Bank, which distributes low and no cost food to 400 agencies in NH. As an agency we established three pantries that will service the five towns.
- We have permission from the Enfield Selectmen to manage the Enfield Food Pantry located in the town office. This will relieve the town management of the day-to-day responsibility and recordkeeping at no cost to them.
- We received permission from the MVRSD to utilize a room in the renovated high school to serve as a food pantry and provide access to the children of the Indian River School and the Mascoma Valley Regional High School. This food pantry will allow teachers and administrators of these schools direct access to stores of food for at risk children at no expense to the school district.
- MTD Property Maintenance and Construction of Canaan has donated office space located at 9 Mechanics Street in Canaan as another location.
We hope to be operational by the beginning February depending, of course, on the second most important factor: VOLUNTEERS!
We have many people that need our help and we are asking people to donate time. We have two locations that need to be staffed currently. Our intention is to have volunteers fill the hours of operation. We now feel, upon consultation with the NH Food Bank, the Enfield and Canaan food pantries should each be open four hours per week. This entails two hours during the day, perhaps 11:00 AM until 1:00 PM, and two hours late afternoon/early evening hours, perhaps 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. We also need the volunteers to be there 30 minutes before opening to make sure shelves are properly stocked and organized.
We know that you are very busy, but we hope that with sufficient volunteers the effort can be kept to a minimum and the results maximized.
If you feel that this issue is important to you and you want to VOLUNTEER or have questions please email FOM: at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate the days and times you are available. This will allow FOM to structure the times of operation. Please let us know of any ideas you have to help improve and expand this new and evolving initiative.
How to Donate
You may also go online to donate to FOM Food Initiative at www.friendsofmascoma.org/donate. When you check out, select "Gift in Honor or in Memory of Someone" and write in “Food Pantry” as the designation. You may also mail checks to:
Friends of Mascoma Foundation, 340 Grafton Pond Road, Enfield, NH 03748
outline Of The Problem
In September of 2014, the Economic Research Service at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its most recent report on food insecurity, indicating that 48 million people in the United States are living in food insecure households, 15 million of whom are children. While the magnitude of the problem is clear, national and even state estimates of food insecurity can mask the nuances that exist at the local level.
NH Food Bank Data
Learn more about food scarcity here in the NH Food Bank's"2014 Report to Our Community:" http://www.nhfoodbank.org//public/documents/Reporting%20to%20our%20Community_FINAL.pdf