KVO, Healthy Waterville To Address Food Insecurity Among Area Elders

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on June 22 that Waterville had been selected as the first in the nation’s ten planned community initiatives, “Healthy Places for Healthy People” planning assistance program. Described as a “new initiative that helps communities leverage health care facilities to foster downtown revitalization and economic growth, improve health and protect the environment”, the scope of these projects are broad-based in vision and long term positive change for the specific community, with the future potential to foster favorable ripple effects to neighboring areas.

Healthy Northern Kennebec coalition partners and interested stakeholders came together on June 26 at the Spectrum Generations Muskie Center for an open community workshop and met the following day for a full day gathering of action planning work sessions at Colby College to lay out the initial Healthy Waterville Action Team (HWAT) subgroups, tasked with identifying areas of need, potential and team members, under direction of EPA technical experts.

KVO was among those selected to receive a mini-grant from Healthy Northern Kennebec, as to aid our work as part of the HWAT transportation subgroup. We will work to develop a partnership among our member congregations and other Waterville area congregations, the Central Maine Gleaners group,Colby College, Sustain Mid-Maine coalition members and KVCAP to explore the feasibility of creating a new program that links fresh locally grown food, congregational and college student volunteers, and KVCAP drivers to deliver fresh food to isolated elders.

We will be conducting interviews with other area agencies identified as potential partners such as Waterville Food Bank in eliminating barriers to area seniors experiencing transportation to fresh food access, and developing strategies to breakdown these barriers.

Some statistics and information of note:

    Maine Food Insecurity Facts

● State Food Insecurity Rates for Ages 60 and older: Maine is above 20% (AARP)
● 23% of seniors experience marginal, low, or very low food security (Maine.gov)
● 14% of Maine seniors experience food insecurity (National Foundation to End Senior Hunger)
● Food insecure older adults are 50% more likely to be diabetic, 60% more likely to have congestive
heart failure, and 3 times more likely to suffer depression (Maine.gov)
● 37% of Maine’s food insecure population does not qualify for public assistance and must rely on the
charity food assistance network (Good Shepard Food Bank)

    Food Insecurity in Kennebec County

● Food insecurity rate (across all age groups): 14.4%
● Number of food insecure people in Kennebec County: 17,440
● Average meal costs: $3.30
● Additional money required to meet food needs: $10,328,000 (Feeding America)