Maine Network of Community Food Councils
The Maine Network of Community Food Councils (MNCFC) is a statewide network of community-based coalitions focused on strengthening local food systems. These coalitions, or Community Food Councils, build connections across stakeholders and collaborate to improve health, food access, natural resource protection, economic development, and production agriculture in their communities.
The Network’s mission is to increase the capacity of local level food systems efforts through collaboration, coordination, and resource sharing, resulting in sustainable, sovereign food systems across the state of Maine.
The ability to visualize and describe the many components of a local food system is critical to identifying needs at the local, regional and state levels. Many Councils begin their work by conducting community assessments, which include inventories of local food system organizations and actors, as well as identification of gaps and brainstorming around how to fill them.
The Network encourages Councils to utilize the Maine Food Atlas as a central clearinghouse of information about efforts underway in their area, and to host events focused on populating the Atlas. Information displayed in the Atlas allows local food system leaders to quickly identify opportunities for collaboration, and allows MNCFC to understand the multitude of actors who compose Maine’s food movement. MNCFC also uses the Atlas as a resource in network mapping efforts and coalition building.
To learn more about MNCFC and explore Maine’s Community Food Councils, please use the links below:
Greater Franklin County Food Council
Launched in 2017, the Greater Franklin County Food Council (GFCFC) is a dynamic group of farmers, food pantry directors, business owners, educators, public interest professionals and engaged community members that are working to realize a robust food system in Western Maine. The Council’s mission is to foster a robust food system in Western Maine by bringing people together to: ensure access to nutritious food, promote local farmers, and advocate for food-related programs and policies that strengthen our communities.
The Council was one of the first in the state to host a Maine Food Atlas Mapathon. This successful (and fun!) event channeled the energy and knowledge of over 20 people and resulted in more than 120 farms and other food businesses in the Council’s service area being added to the Atlas…in a single evening.
By mapping the food system in Greater Franklin County on the Atlas, GFCFC has been better able to understand both what resources exist and where there is significant potential for growth. As part of this mapping effort, GFCFC also uses the Atlas to store, display, and update its database of regional food pantries.
To learn more about mapathons, please use the following link:
Healthy Food For All
The Healthy Food for All Council is one of the Maine Food Strategy Councils that works to advance projects in support of the Maine Food Strategy Framework. The councils are groups of individuals and organizations from the field, who have keen knowledge and perspective on different areas of the food system. The Healthy Food for All Council is focused on food security and access, and is working to ensure that “everyone in Maine has access to healthy food.”
Formed in February 2017, the HFFA Council employed a ranking and voting process to choose a project that would best impact food security work in Maine and benefit from a collaborative approach. The group has since been developing an online resource database for food access and nutrition education programs in Maine. The goal is to create an easily accessible space where both practitioners and people experiencing food insecurity can go to learn about the resources available in their communities.
The HFFA Council chose the Maine Food Atlas as a platform for this database for multiple reasons. The Atlas is a community-based effort with a statewide following and a large database of food access points. Supporting and promoting the Maine Food Atlas platform is complementary to the HFFA Council’s collaborative approach. The Atlas continues to support the HFFA Council by hosting the database within the broader Atlas and highlighting the good work of the groups and projects advancing food security in Maine.
Please use the Maine Food Atlas to find resources in your area that will best meet your needs. If you are a provider of resources, select the “HFFA” affiliation in your Atlas listing to reach more people and expand the breadth of options available in this database for people experiencing food insecurity in Maine.
Links to Council Participants:
Healthy Oxford Hills
Healthy Oxford Hills (HOH) is a local Healthy Maine Partnership (HMP) that covers all of Oxford County. HMPs bring together groups of people in every county across the state and from all walks of life to promote wellness among Maine’s people. HOH works collaboratively with many different community partner organizations and volunteers to create positive changes in policies and practice as well as to increase access to resources that support healthier lifestyles.
HOH collaborated with the Maine Food Atlas and the MSAD17 School Nutrition Program in 2017 to create the Western Foothills Harvest Map. Made possible through efforts and support from Maine SNAP-Ed and 5210 Let’s Go! In Oxford County, the Western Foothills Harvest Map showcased local farms and farmers’ markets in the Oxford Hills Region that were family friendly to visit, whether they accepted SNAP benefits, and what kind of food they produced.
The overall goal of the project was to increase awareness of local food among students and their families, and encourage them to explore local farms and markets, increasing their access to healthy, local food. HOH used the Atlas to quickly and cost effectively compile contact information about local foods resources. The Atlas was promoted in the final printed Harvest Map, which was distributed to thousands of Harvest Maps brought home by students in the Oxford Hills. Users want to learn more about sites were encouraged to visit the Atlas freeing HOH from having to compile and distribute this information itself.
For more information on the programs mentioned in this project, as well as resources related to the ongoing work of Healthy Oxford Hills, check out the following links: