From left to right: Tim Delahanty, Learning Works Service Works program director, Carly Milkowski and Mary Zwolinski of Wayside Food Programs, Emily Cooper, RD of Maine Snap-Ed, Sarah Colton from Portland Community Policing, Jordan and Katie Brown of the Locker Project.

Collaborative food fair nurtures West End community

January 27, 2017
Wayside Food Programs' work to fight hunger and build community is a collaborative effort, involving partnership with many other non-profits, businesses, community groups, and government agencies. The organization's Monday evening community meal at the Howard C. Reiche School in Portland's West End is an excellent example of the type of collaborative, community building work that Wayside seeks to do across all its programming. Beginning last fall, Wayside has partnered with the Locker Project and Maine Snap-Ed to turn the regular Monday night meal into a mini food fair, where once a month families from the neighborhood gather to enjoy a healthy made-from-scratch meal, a fresh produce distribution, and a kid-friendly nutrition lesson.
This past Monday, students and their families enjoyed enchiladas, fresh vegetables, and fruit salad prepared by Wayside. The Locker Project, which provides nutrition assistance to food insecure children in Maine, distributed fresh produce and non-perishable foods while Maine Snap-Ed dietician Emily Cooper led kids in a hands on nutrition lesson making fruit kabobs.
"Our community is so much stronger when we work together," says Wayside's Operations Manager Don Morrison. "By partnering with so many different non-profits, businesses, and organizations, we are able to reach more people and provide a better service to the individuals and families we serve."
The weekly dinner at Reiche is also supported by Portland Community Policing. the Portland Rec after school program, and Learning Works, organizations which provide staff support or volunteers to assist with the meal. The meal is one of five weekly meals put on in collaboration with afterschool programs for kids and families, and part of Wayside's larger Community Meals Program which provides 14 free weekly community meals in Portland and Westbrook.