The Knox County Food Council will hold a virtual meeting for the public to strategize ways to capitalize on apparent increases in food security in Knox County. The meeting will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 5 to 6 p.m. via Zoom.

Throughout 2022, KCFC hosted a series of monthly virtual presentations on regional food system topics. During the October meeting, food security was selected as a top priority for the Food Council in 2023. Participants in the Nov. 8 meeting will be asked to help identify factors impacting food security in Knox County: what is currently being done to address those issues, who is involved, where there are gaps in services, potential challenges, and opportunities to help.

The USDA defines food security as access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. At the start of the pandemic, Good Shepherd Food Bank reported 12.3% of Mainers were food insecure and Knox County was one of four Maine counties projected to see the greatest increase in the number of people who are food insecure. This included all types of food insecurity, whether they only have access to low quality foods or are not consuming enough calories, either on a daily basis or for part of the month.

Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss the following statistics:
Statewide: During the height of the pandemic, food insecurity in Maine increased from 12.3% to 14.7%
Unemployment in Knox County: Maine Department of Labor reported a spike in Knox County’s unemployment in 2020; the rate jumped from 4.0% in February to 10.3% in April. In September 2022 it was 3.7%.

In 2020, participation in the Meals On Wheels program in Knox County increased by 95%.

Countywide: According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study released in 2022, food insecurity rates in Knox County decreased from 11% in 2019 to 9.9% in 2020. The drop in food insecurity among youth in Knox County was slightly smaller; 18.1% to 17.1%.

Since the rise of COVID-19 in the United States, there has been an increase in federal, state, and private funding for emergency assistance, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. KCFC’s meeting on Nov. 8 will touch on what can be done in Knox County to weather the expected rise in food insecurity after the pandemic emergency funds expire, to counter the anticipated loss of pandemic emergency funds for food security.

To register for this virtual meeting and receive the Zoom link, visit aldermere.org/kcfc-meeting-registration. For more information, contact Joelle Albury, Knox County Food Council Steering Committee member at aldermere@mcht.org.

Knox County Food Council is a community-based coalition that formed in 2019 to promote a more resilient food system in Knox County, Maine. The Food Council’s vision is to create a collaborative food system in order to advance a resilient and sustainable network assuring access to healthy resources for Knox County communities. For more information about Knox County Food Council and to view recordings of previous meetings, visit aldermere.org/kcfc.