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Foundation explores food insecurity

HANCOCK – The Portage Health Foundation is exploring food production and sustainability from the viewpoint of its Community Health and Wellness pillar. The project, called “Stop the Roar of Hunger,” intends to look at several topics regarding local food production such as sustainability, and accessibility.

Chelsea Goodreau, fund development assistant, is leading the project.

“We actually launched the project on Dec. 1, 2015,” Goodreau said, with an event called “Giving Tuesday, which was a global funding day that has been going on for approximately the past three years. We thought it would be a good time to launch this program.”

Rather than looking at providing funding to local charitable food-giving organizations, the PHF is looking at food insecurity from a different perspective.

“We’re not putting cans of food in food banks with this,” Kevin Store, executive director of the Portage Health Foundation said. “Chelsea and other staff have been working on researching and understanding health and nutrition, and its effect on population health.”

Goodreau will be attending a conference in Madison, Wisconsin, in June, Store said, which will focus on food production and nutritional values, such as “farm-to-table, farm-to-school – the role of food in chronic illness management and everything else,” he explained.

“So, we’re going to be trying to come up with some things (and) educating ourselves,” Store explained, “but (also) coming out with some releases, and this year will focus largely on the Farmers Market initiative. Chelsea serves on that, along with this physician we’ll bring in -well, it’s not just a farmers market, but to bring in community education to community health respective of what we needed to do.”

Goodreau said the program is looking at ways the PHF can truly benefit the four county area through its initiatives.

“One thing I’d like to emphasize,” Goodreau said, “is that we don’t want to come in thinking we know everything. We are trying to work with our local community to find what programs already exist, what can we do to help make those programs better, and where are gaps in our services that we can look at filling.”

Funding for the project initially came just from money raised from the PHF Gala fundraising event, but this year will be different, Goodreau said.

“In the past, all funds have been raised at the Gala event, and this year we decided to start fundraising early,” she said. “After the Gala, we will have the amount of money raised, officially, we’ll have the known amount, and the foundation will match that amount.”

“We’ve already raised somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000,” Store added, “plus the proceeds from our Gala event, and the proceeds from that will be matched, and we generally have matched those dollar for dollar, and that will go out for a specific call for proposals relative to food insecurities.”

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