WALDO COUNTY — Through a unique fundraising effort, Waldo County Bounty and The Lost Kitchen partnership raised more than $325,000 in nine days to help provide much-needed access to locally-grown foods for people experiencing food insecurity in Waldo County, Maine.
Waldo County Bounty is a grassroots hunger-relief initiative established at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Lost Kitchen is a restaurant in Freedom, owned and operated by Erin French, and which has been described as one of the “hardest-to-book restaurants in America.”
The two entities launched their fundraising effort on May 18 by offering hopeful customers early access to the restaurant’s reservation system in exchange for a small donation.
The Lost Kitchen, well known for its dining experience and hard to come by reservations, has now made its reservation system available to everyone. Diners can still make donations to Waldo County Bounty as part of the process by visiting www.waldocountybounty.me/tlk-2021-reservations. Please note, donations do not guarantee a reservation.
“We at The Lost Kitchen believe in the power of community, coming together, and supporting each other during challenging times. Our restaurant would not exist without it, and this year we are thrilled to be working with Waldo County Bounty to help address food insecurity in our county,” said Erin French, chef and owner, in a news release. “Through our reservation system, our customers came together in a meaningful and powerful way to help ensure that good fresh food will be accessible to all. The response has been overwhelming, and I am simply humbled by the outpouring of generosity from all the The Lost Kitchen friends across the country and around the world who helped make such a huge difference here in our rural community.”
WCB is committed to improving access to locally grown food in a rural Maine county where poverty and food insecurity were already widespread before the pandemic.
At the center of its programming, the initiative raises funds to buy crops from local farmers and distributes the fresh fruits and vegetables to food pantries in Waldo County. Additionally, WCB leads gleaning, garden education, and neighbor-to-neighbor produce exchanges.
The Lost Kitchen, said French, buys produce from many of the same local farms currently working with WCB, and the funds raised from the partnership are to support both local farmers and people experiencing food insecurity.
Specifically, WCB will use the funds to execute its mission and find ways to make its programs more effective and sustainable.
“We are so grateful to partner with The Lost Kitchen, which has been a long-time supporter of local farms in our part of Maine,” said Colleen Hanlon-Smith, WCB leadership team member. “We hope the partnership will draw more attention to the ways in which rural communities are pulling together and using local farming networks to improve food security.”
“Our grassroots programming relies on individual donations like these,” said Mary Leaming, WCB leadership team member. “Now, thanks to compassionate donors from all over the world, our clients who face barriers to good nutrition will be able to receive fresh, high-quality ingredients grown by nearby farms.”
For more details, follow-up questions, and photos for Waldo County Bounty, contact Mattie Bamman at firstname.lastname@example.org and 207-408-0496. For The Lost Kitchen, contact Michael Dutton at email@example.com or 207-382-3333.
In addition, the Waldo County Bounty has helped administer the USDA’s Farms to Families commodity program (in partnership with Waldo County Emergency Management Agency, Belfast Soup Kitchen, Waldo Community Action Partners).