Piscataquis Healthy Food for All

Piscataquis Healthy Food for All is a collaborative county-wide effort to make it easier for adults, kids, seniors and families living in Piscataquis County to get healthy foods. Check this blog each week for new information about ongoing projects and how you can get involved!

Free Summer Meals For Kids!

Starting on June 18th, there will be free meals for kids 18 years old and under being served all around Piscataquis County at various Summer Meals sites. Adults can eat for a small fee (under $4)

Click HERE to find Summer Meals Sites, Dates, Times, and Activities!

2018 Post Office Food Drive!

Gazette - May '18 copy

The annual “Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive” is right around the corner! This year we’re encouraging everyone to be mindful with their donations– don’t just clean out your cupboard!

 It’s important to check the expiration dates and integrity of the packaging of foods before donating. Food Pantries cannot give out non-perishable items that are more than a year past it’s expiration date. Giving rusted and dented cans or items with teared packing should also be avoided as they will not be given out at distribution.

Not sure what to donate? Here are some items that food cupboards always need:

  • Peanut Butter & Jelly — sugar free, too!
  • Canned Tuna and other meats
  • Pasta — whole grain
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Dry Cereal — whole grain, low sugar/sugar free
  • Shelf Stable Milk
  • Canned fruit — without syrup
  • Condiments
  • Baking mix — biscuits, pancake, cake, etc…
  • Olive or Canola Oil
  • Honey
  • Soup Broths
  • Soups — low sodium
  • Granola Bars
  • Popcorn — kernels or butter free
  • Baby Food/Formula

A good rule of thumb to follow, just give what you would want to eat!

AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer Opportunity with Piscataquis Healthy Food For All!


Summer Meals Community Info Meeting!

Summer Meals Meeting flyer

Join us on Thursday May 17th from 3:30-4:30 at the Piscataquis Regional YMCA for an informative discussion on Summer Meals. Learn how the program works as well as how you can get involved. Volunteer opportunities will be available.

 We’d love to see you there! Spread the word and bring a friend! We can all work together to make sure every child in our county is fed this summer.

$50 to FarmShare For Homebound Seniors and Be Entered To Win a $150 Prize Pack!

April '18 Gazette Ad (4)5

For the past few months we’ve been working to solicit donations for FarmShare For Homebound Seniors and we still need your help!

This month, if you donate $50 (one share for a senior!) you will be entered to win a prize pack worth $150!

The prize pack includes:

  • $50 Center Theatre Family Membership

  • $50 Grocery Gift Card

  • $25 Butterfields Gift Card

  • Whoopie Pie Festival Swag

  • A Piscataquis Healthy Food For All Collapsible Canvas Shopping Bag

Please help us help homebound seniors in our county get access to fresh produce they need and deserve!


Happy National Nutrition Month!

Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month? Each year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics launches an educational campaign focused on the importance of making informed food choices and developing healthy habits.

This year Piscataquis Healthy Food For All is jumping on the bandwagon and will be posting nutrition information and helpful tips and tricks all month long! Keep any eye out during Salt Awareness Week (March 20th-26th), we’ve got a lot of exciting stuff planned!

Information can be found on our website www.healthypiscataquis.com and on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/feelgoodpiscataquis



FREE SNAP Training in Piscataquis!

Orange & White Bold Simple Volunteer Flyer-page-001

JOIN US on TUESDAY MARCH 6th, 2018 for a FREE SNAP Training session being provided by Maine Hunger Initiative! In this 2-hour session, you will gain an understanding of who qualifies for SNAP, learn how to guide individuals through the application process and walk away with some tips on navigating the complicated DHHS system. The goal of this training is for you to be confident in advocating on behalf of qualified individuals, helping them attain the benefits they need and deserve. The first hour of the training will be a presentation, followed by another hour of interactive activity and questions. This training is open to anyone interested in learning more about SNAP and how to help people sign up for the program, including members of the community and community service providers.

You MUST register to attend! To register and/or if you have any questions, please email haley@prfoodcenter.org. We hope to see you there! 

January is National Poverty Awareness Month!

Happy New Year, everyone! To start off, we want to let you know that Piscataquis Healthy Food For All has recently moved from the Piscataquis Regional YMCA to the Piscataquis Regional Food Center! PRYMCA will remain a partner in our work and we look forward to continued work together helping kids and adults get better access to healthy foods.  We want to say THANK YOU to everyone at PRYMCA for your support and kindness these past few years, it’s meant so much to the entire Piscataquis Healthy Food for All Team!

Did you know January is National Poverty Awareness Month? In 2015 over 43 million people in the United States were living in poverty, that number has slightly decreased in 2016 to about 40 million. As the national poverty rate declined, Maine’s did not. Roughly 43,000 children in Maine are living in poverty meaning they are without regular and reliable access to food and services needed to keep them healthy. Show support by continuing to support your local food cupboards as they work hard to keep your neighbors in need fed.

January '18 Slide

Hungry Holidays

When schools let out for winter break many of the children in Piscataquis county who rely on free school meals as their main food source may not know where their next meal is coming from. The unfortunate reality is that some kids don’t have regular access to food if they aren’t able to go to school. Many of the families who struggle to feed their children rely on local food pantries to secure enough food during holiday breaks. Food pantries do their best to provide enough food for all of their clients, but continued support of your local food cupboard throughout the holiday season is needed to ensure that the children in Piscataquis are getting enough to eat.

If you have any questions, call 207-343-0171 or email healthyfood4all@prymca.org!

December '17 Slide (3)

Hunger Doesn’t Take A Holiday

With Thanksgiving right around the corner and turkey drives happening in abundance, it’s important to remember that food pantries need support year round, not just during the holiday season. As much as food cupboards appreciate any and all donations, keep in mind that over 2,800 people in Piscataquis county go hungry EVERY day.  When holiday donations come to an end, hunger does not. Join the fight against hunger and continue to support your local food pantry all year long.

If you’re wondering what to donate, check out our last post to find a list of items food cupboards need!November Slide (1)

Food Cupboard Community Outreach During Foxcroft Academy’s Annual Food Drive!

Piscataquis Healthy Food For All is kicking off a year long Food Cupboard Outreach Campaign! The goal of this campaign is to help educate the community on the needs of local food pantries and their patrons. Helping us launch this campaign is Foxcroft Academy! Every year, FA holds a student led non-perishable food drive and this year they’ve agreed to let us come in before the start of the food drive to help educate the students on what types non-perishable food items are needed, other than jars of peanut butter and boxed mac n’ cheese. With the help of the local food cupboard managers, we’ve created a list of items needed by food pantries that has been given to the students ahead of the food drive. In addition to the list, on Friday, September 29th, we’ve been invited by Foxcroft Academy to talk with the students about food insecurity in Piscataquis County and how many people are directly affected by this issue. For instance, did you know that nearly 200 people in Dover-Foxcroft rely on the food cupboard every month? Similar information will be running on a slide at the Center Theatre and as ads in the Eastern Gazette and Piscataquis Observer throughout the month of October. We’re thrilled to launch this campaign with the support of Foxcroft Academy and can’t wait to share the results of the food drive!

Foxcroft Academy’s 2017 Food Drive will take place from October 2nd to October 6th.

October Food Donation Slide (2)

September is Hunger Action Month! How Do You Feel When You Are Hungry?

People face hunger all year long and in all of our communities. Hunger Action Month is a chance to raise awareness about hunger and talk about how, together, we can better understand the problem and find ways to help the people who need it most. Piscataquis Healthy Food is taking this opportunity to launch a  year-long media campaign about how our regional hunger relief system works, what it means to be food insecure, and what we can all do as community members to best support area food cupboards and their customers. We thought we’d start by asking people — young and old — to tell us how they feel when they are hungry. Visit the Feel Good Piscataquis page on Facebook to see what they are saying! Also, keep an eye for our public awareness ads in the Piscataquis Observer, Eastern Gazette, and on the screen at Center Theatre.  How do you feel when you’re hungry? Hunger Action Month w PHFA info (2)


August Food Cupboard Spice Drive Update

Hey everyone! Remember the Spice Drive? We’ve been partnering with stores in Dover-Foxcroft every month to ask folks to donate herbs and spices to the Dover Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard. Spices and herbs are a great way to make basic food cupboard foods like rice, beans, pasta, and potatoes more flavorful and healthy. This month’s Spice is cumin, a strong but “warm” flavored ground spice that’s great mixed in with all kinds of vegetables and meats. Check out the Feel Good Piscataquis page on Facebook to see a recipe we found for a yummy chicken salad made with cumin. We’ll be making samples to hand out at DFAFC’s food distribution on Thursday, August 24th. You can help by stopping by Save-A-Lot on W. Main St. in Dover-Foxcroft and buying a $1 jar of cumin when you check out at the register. Thank you, Save-A-Lot, for helping us promote the Spice Drive and help food cupboard customers make healthy and yummy meals!


We need reliable volunteers to help hand out meals at the Guilford HS and the Derby neighborhood in Milo.

Looking for teams of two. Not a long-term commitment.

If you think you might be able to help with Summer Meals call (207) 564-7111 x21


May Spice O’ The Month:

Lemon Pepper!

Meet the littlest member of our Spice Drive, and new food cupboard volunteer, Miss Cece!

Here she is with Erin handing out samples of home made cheese crackers at our May Spice distribution.

April Spice of the Month: Pepper!

To celebrate this months Spice of the Month, Piscataquis Healthy Food For All volunteers chose a black pepper and parmesan potato chips recipe.

Our friends from the Charlotte White Community Supports group came in the day before distribution to help make these yummy home-made potato chips. Everyone had a chance to mix the potato slices in the parmesan, pepper and oil mix as well as taste test at the end. It was a great experiment to test how thin or how thick potatoes should be sliced for chips. We recommend medium-thin!

The recipe was pretty simple, and because the chips needed to bake for 18-22 minutes, there was time for a game. Our chefs, volunteers and staff alike enjoyed a fun game of Food Cupboard Friends Bingo.  Each square represented a task that volunteers at the food cupboard do, or, something that any community member can do; such as telling a friend about the food cupboard, or asking a food cupboard volunteer what a healthy donation is.

The day after, patrons of the food cupboard were offered a taste test of the homemade chips. Not everyone tried the chip samples, but everyone was given the chance to take home a recipe card along with black pepper, and a bag of potatoes.

We thought you might enjoy the opportunity to make your own homemade chips so we’ve included the recipe below. You’ll also see a black pepper based pasta dish, “Cacio De Pepe”.   Enjoy!

Black Pepper Parmesan Zucchini (or Potato!) Chips



  • 2 zucchini (or potatoes, sweet or regular)
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil (or 3 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. black pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Thinly slice the zucchini (or potatoes) into chips
  3. In a bowl, toss them in olive oil, cheese, garlic powder, and pepper.
  4. Cover a baking sheet in foil and spread out the zucchini (or potatoes) in a single layer. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until crispy. To make them extra crispy, place a rack on top of the baking sheet and cook the zucchini on the rack so the top and bottom both crisp up.

Cacio de Pepe Pasta Dish

Prep time: 5 mins  Cook time: 15 mins  Total time: 20 mins

Servings: 4 -6

Canned or frozen veggies of your choice can easily be added in to give this recipe a boost- pour your favorite canned or frozen veggies in a few minutes before the pasta is done boiling and drain.


  • 1 pound dried spaghetti pasta
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese + more for topping (can either be freshly grated or the pre-grated)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper + more for topping
  • Salt, to taste


  1. In a large stockpot, boil water and cook spaghetti according to directions on package.
  2. Remove and drain well. Put pasta in a large bowl and place pads of butter on top and toss to melt.
  3. Toss with Parmesan cheese, ground black pepper, and salt (to taste).
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Notice: Registration Closed

At this time registration for the FarmShare for Homebound Seniors program is closed. Thanks to everyone who helped spread the word! We are still accepting applications for volunteers. Call Piscataquis Healthy Food For All at (207) 564-7111 x21 if interested.

Easter Bunny visits our local Food Cupboard


The Easter bunny visited the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard today, delivering fresh chives from Leaves and Blooms Greenhouse paired with a Chive Butter recipe from our Piscataquis Healthy Food For All volunteer AND painted hard boiled eggs from all the kids at the Piscataquis Regional YMCA!

Happy Spring Everyone!

Americorps VISTA Volunteer Opportunity with

Piscataquis Healthy Food For All

Calling all Community Members! Are you or someone you know in search of meaningful employment? Piscataquis Healthy Food For All is seeking a candidate for a full time, 1 year Americorps VISTA Volunteer position starting mid-July to work on hunger and food access issues in Piscataquis County. Monthly living stipend provided. For more information, e-mail letter of interest to: healthyfood4all@prymca.org

March Spice of the Month: Oregano!


We had another opportunity to have fun in the kitchen with Charlotte White Center’s Rising Stars Community Supports Program.

This month we chose Oregano as our spice to showcase for our Spice Drive 2017. Volunteers found a great recipe for an Oregano Bean Dip. Wednesday afternoon the Rising Stars came in to assist in making the dip. To make the recipe as easy and no-frill as possible, we excluded the use of any kitchen gadgets- the beans and other ingredients were mashed just using a fork, which makes it an accessible side dish for everyone. Much giggling could be hear from the Rising Stars as they paired up to mash white cannelinni beans.

The white bean dip samples went over fairly well at the Dover Foxcroft Area Food Cupboards Distribution. Those that didn’t care to try still had the option to take home all the ingredients to make the White Bean Dip recipe, as well as a Cannelinni Bean Soup recipe. The Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard had a large donation of garlic and dried white cannelinni beans. Through customer donation, the Dollar Tree raised 71 Oregano containers, which were also available at distribution.

It was a happy day in the office when this box of Oregano was picked up. Thank you to the Dollar Tree customers for your kind donations!

White Bean Dip with Oregano


1 15oz can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1⁄4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped fine (optional)

2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 1/2 a lemon)

1 small garlic clove or ½ of large garlic clove (chopped very fine)

⅓ cup olive oil or vegetable oil (optional)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1⁄2 teaspoons salt

1 1⁄4 teaspoons ground black pepper, plus more to taste


  1. In large bowl combine the beans, parsley (if using), lemon juice, garlic, and the salt and pepper.
  2. Mash well with fork or potato masher until ingredients look well combined.
  3. Add 1/3 cup of oil for a creamier texture.
  4. Season the dip with more salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with your favorite crackers, bread or cut vegetables. Apple slices would work too.

Stay tuned for our next Spice of the Month in April!

2nd Annual

Piscataquis Summer Meals

Planning Meeting

Piscataquis Healthy Food For All is pleased to invite YOU to our 2nd Annual Piscataquis Summer Meals Planning Meeting. It will be held in the MultiPurpose room at SeDoMoCha School from 3:00-4:30 pm tomorrow, Wednesday 3/22.

This is a wonderful opportunity to come together as a community to discuss how we can all support the effort to get healthy, free meals to as many kids as we can.

Kate Fayle, Maine Dept. of Ed’s new Summer Food Service Coordinator and Adriane Ackroyd, the new Child Nutrition Consultant will also attend, as the Dept. wants to continue helping Piscataquis increase the number of summer meal sponsors and sites.
We look forward to seeing you there if you can make it. Don’t fret if you can’t; we will be sharing our progress as summer draws near to ensure our communities stay in the loop.
For More Information:
Call: Piscataquis Healthy Food For All at 207-564-7111 x21
Email: e.callaway@prymca.org

Bringing Community Together with Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato Basil Soup samples prepared by the Charlotte White Center’s Rising Stars Community Supports Program

On Wednesday afternoon, the team at Piscataquis Healthy Food For All and members of Charlotte White’s Rising Stars Community Supports Group met at the Congregational Church. The afternoon agenda? To cook up a big batch of tomato basil soup that would be handed out the next day during distribution for the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food cupboard. The monthly samples are part of the Spice Drive 2017- an effort to “spice” up food items regularly donated and to provide an inspiring and educational way for patrons to get creative in the kitchen. February’s spice of the month is dried basil, with a complimentary food item of canned diced tomatoes. Tomato Basil soup recipes were available at distribution for customers to take home and try out themselves.

For the Rockstars and Dreamcatchers (the small groups of the Rising Stars Community Supports program), cooking offered a fun way to practice skill building and a chance to provide community service for the food cupboard. Everyone had a chance to chop, measure ingredients, stir and assist in clean-up. And when they were all finished, they took a break to taste the soup. One chef said, “This tastes way better than canned tomato soup- and it’s probably healthier!”

Below are photos from Thursdays distribution. The customers that did tasted the tomato basil soup samples reported back with “Mmm’s!” and “Yum’s!”.

Spice Drive Sample Station at the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cubpoard

The team at Piscataquis Healthy Food For All is looking forward to future community collaboration!

Community Support at the Dover-Foxcroft Dollar Tree

The range of spices available at the Dollar Tree

The team at Piscataquis Healthy Food For All is pleased to share some fantastic news. Recently, we approached the Dollar Tree in Dover-Foxcroft, to see if they were interested in supporting our Spice Drive 2017. The Dollar Tree in Dover-Foxcroft hosts two annual food drives for the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard; one in the spring and one just before winter. We spoke with John, the local store manager and Lois, the district store manager-  they were more than pleased to assist. With their support we were able to have our Spice of the Month flyer up at each register.  In just a few weeks, we had all 70 dried basil spice containers that we needed for the last distribution of the month at the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard. This wouldn’t have been possible without the customer-only donations.

John, the store manager, straightens up the spice section.

While in the store, John, Lois and I had a wonderful chat about what dishes could be made for sampling at the food cupboard distribution. Ideas ranged from lemon spice for fish dishes, to meat rubs and spices for grilling season, and even mardi gras themed dishes.

The team at Piscataquis Healthy Food For All is grateful for the opportunity to develop community partnerships like the one described above. Stay tuned for details on the sampling at next distribution and the next Spice of the Month!


In conjunction with Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard, we’d like to invite you to our “SPICE DRIVE 2017”!!! Each month we will feature a different spice/herb. There will be nutrition info, health benefits and recipes posted here, on our Facebook page Feel Good Piscataquis! and to our Feel Good Piscataquis Pinterest Page .

Spices are a great way of pepping up the basics you might already have at home. In the spirit of providing “Healthy Foods for All”, we are asking for donations of spices, herbs, and another featured food item each month to our local area Food Cupboards.

This month, we are featuring the spice Cinnamon. Cinnamon pairs well with many things, particularly Oatmeal, which is our food pairing this month. Along with other donation needs of the Food Cupboards (such as low sodium soups, peanut butter and jelly’s and other herb/spices) we would appreciate donations of Cinnamon and/or Oats.

To get you started on using cinnamon, here’s a recipe for oatmeal made with apple juice as the liquid. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/79828/apple-cinnamon-oatmeal/

These additions go a long way in providing creativity in the kitchen and nutritious meals to the patrons of these Cupboards. Stay tuned for more ways to spice up your meals, and, let us know how you like to spice up your food! #spicedrive2017

 Festivities at the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard! 

From Left to Right: Helper Elves from the PR YMCA, Troubadour Elf (Nick Strout) and Americorps Assistant Elf (Merrilee Schoen)

The feeling of community holiday spirit found a home this week during a fun game of Food Cupboard Friends bingo on Tuesday, and during the last distribution of the month at the Dover Fox-croft Area Food Cupboard on Thursday.

Above: Carrot “bingo chips” and the Food Cupboard Friends Bingo board

Tuesday afternoon, 15 after-school holiday campers at the YMCA sat in a circle. Each child got a cup of carrot bingo chips and a colorful bingo board, titled “Food Cupboard Friends Bingo” created by the Piscataquis Healthy Food For All team. Though only a few rounds were played, the game paved the way for the kids field-trip to the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard on Thursday. With just a little prompting, the kids recalled some of the lessons of the bingo game, such as; helping people put items into their bag or box, keeping the tables neat, and saying hello.

Thursday, December 22nd rolled around and was it ever a festive day! Around 1:30 the YMCA after-school kids donned elf hats and were given a brief tour of the food cupboard layout before patrons arrived. They all paired up and helped distribute items behind the distribution tables. Nick Strout arrived with some wonderful holiday tunes, many of which the kids and volunteers sang along to! Laughter, cheer and fun was had by many.

Healthy Food For All Director Elf (Erin Callaway) gave all the visiting Helper Elves a tour. Above, she describes some of the items in the gift bags at one of the distribution tables.


Happy Holidays!

We’ve Got A Winner!

Senior Luncheon Raffle Surprise

Last Friday, December 9th, the PRYMCA hosted one of their quarterly Potluck Luncheons.

Though these luncheons are created for all of the public to engage in a community get-together, many of the attendees were senior members and their friends and family.

Piscataquis Healthy Food For All had the pleasure of being a part of it in a small way. With the holiday season soon approaching, the team at PHFA thought a survey would be a great way to start a conversation about healthy eating.

That morning before everyone dug in, we asked them to fill out a card with their contact info- each response to our survey question was also a chance to win a $10 gift card to Will’s Shop N’ Save.

The question we posed was as follows: “What are your tips for eating healthy this holiday season?”

Below are the quite brilliant responses:

  • not to make things too sweet
  • smaller portions
  • move more!
  • go to parties with a full stomach
  • chips/chips/chips
  • drink lots of water before going out
  • stay away from alcohol
  • go easy on sweets
  • wait a while after your first course before you decide on seconds
  • stay away from snack table
  • eat in moderation
  • what I have found that works for me is I pass around plates of appetizers and talk to everyone for most of the event rather than sit and gorge!
  • eat less, more veggie squash soup
  • pick 1 dessert
  • I like shrimp
  • smaller portions
  • drink lots of water and exercise
  • portion control
  • eat fruit and vegetables

Our winner, was Evelyn Field! Thank you all for participating. We will have more fun chances like this throughout the year. In the meantime, if you have ideas on healthy eating tips for the holiday season and beyond, we’d love to hear them!

Celebrating Continued Collaboration

The team at Piscataquis Healthy Food For All is pleased to share some news! Our program has been chosen to receive grant money (Big thanks to the Maine Health Access Foundation) to continue its partnership with PRYMCA! This strengthens the already growing connection between our work and the Y, and continues to establish connections with community organizations in our county and region. Together we can help our community get access to the healthy foods we all need!

Food Cupboard Friends

Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard Community Volunteers

December 8th marked the first distribution of the month for the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard. It was a bustling, high energy afternoon. Distributions are from 2-5pm, every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month. Most patrons come within the first hour with some lull in-between.

Karen King, operations manager of the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard saw a moment to capture during one of these lulls, remarking, “This is the most volunteers we’ve ever had!” It truly was a wonderful time helping behind the tables, catching up with volunteers and patrons alike.

Back at the Piscataquis Regional YMCA, Erin Callaway and Merrilee Schoen developed a bingo game created just for kids and families. Though it looks like your regular bingo game, this one is special. Each square is an action a child or family (or an individual grown-up!) can take to be a Food Cupboard Friend. Combining fun and simple actions, this game helps everyone understand what kinds of tasks volunteers do while helping at the food cupboard, and when they’re out in the community. It might even inspire you to do these helpful tasks too! Below is a sample board.


Check the donation bin at the YMCA Tell a friend about the food cupboard Ask the people who work at the cupboard what a “healthy” donation is Bring food left on the tables back to storage room when distribution is done
Donate a Healthy Food to the YMCA bin! Help bring food to someone’s car Help put food items in someone’s bag or box Sing a song for people while they wait in line
Collect food from friends and neighbors Vacuum or sweep after distribution Say hello to folks at the food cupboard! Ask folks what they like to eat
Help set up food cupboard tables before food is handed out Help take out the trash at the end of distribution Draw a picture or make cards to give out at the food cupboard! Help make the food on the tables look nice and neat

Woohoo! Now you know a little bit more about helping people in your community


Brought to you by PRYMCA’s Piscataquis Healthy Food For All


healthyfood4all@prymca.org  or 564-7111 ext. 21


As you can see- the actions are really quite simple.  Whether donating a single item, ir saying hello to folks as they come in, or helping straighten up the tables before, during, or after distribution, these small actions matter a great deal! We’ll be playing this game with the PRYMCA after-school kids in preparation for their fieldtrip to the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard on Thursday December 22nd, the next distribution.

We’ll be updating this page and our facebook page after to keep everyone informed of the experience. In the meantime, please contact us if you’d like a copy of this community-kindness based bingo game.

Obstacle Courses, Clementine Ornaments, and Reindeer Food

The Elves of Health- Erin Callaway and Merrilee Schoen.

This Saturday, December 3rd, residents of Dover-Foxcroft celebrated Hometown Holidays. There was fun to be had all throughout town. Piscataquis Healthy Food For All and the Piscataquis Regional YMCA hosted Reindeer Games in the old Mr.Paperback Building. While customers enjoyed delightful handcrafted items in the pop-up space, In the Woods, giggles could be heard coming from behind the curtain where kids were enjoying a jump, balance and tumble obstacle course. The Piscataquis Healthy Food For All Team hosted a clementine ornament craft next to a Reindeer Food making station.

The kids at Reindeer Games sure seemed to love decorating tissue paper to wrap their clementines in! And, it sparked conversations such as; what this yummy fruit actually is, about eating clementines in general, preference and favorite fruits, and why veggies are not so yummy to some.

What a happy face!
This boy enjoyed giving his clementine ornament a face and arms!
Proud clementine ornament maker
#socialmediacarrot joined in on the fun too!

In the next coming months the Piscataquis Healthy Food For All looks forward to more of these spontaneous and facilitated conversations with the youth of our community. Helping kids have fun with healthy food is an integral part of our work!

Holiday Helpers at the YMCA

Pre-school and afterschool kids at the YMCA were such great holiday helpers the last week of November! We at the Piscataquis Healthy Food For All team wanted to provide an activity focused on 1. helping in the community and 2. fun with food.

We decided decorating ornaments for hometown holidays would be a fun activity for both the pre-schoolers and the after-schoolers here at the Y. But what to decorate with? Celery and Broccoli came to mind as good paintbrush candidates. And so, armed with different shaped broccolli and celery, plates with globs of colorful paint and glitter, the pre-school kids got to work happily.

It also turned out to be a wonderful way for the kids to interact with all of the different parts of each vegetable. A Piscataquis Healthy Food For All volunteer brought along a whole broccoli and one celery stalk, asking the kids to guess which one they might be holding a piece of. Though a small moment, it provided a thoughtful discussion. Fine motor skills were put to use, creativity was engaged and fun with food was had!

The after-school kids also seemed to really engage with this activity. As the PHFA volunteer handed out the bowls of broccoli and celery “stamps”, and started getting out the paint, questions came up. “What are we doing with this?” “I don’t get it!” When the after-school kids were told that they could paint the ornaments for Hometown Holidays with these vegetables, one boy replied, “That’s so WEIRD!”  They too got an opportunity to interact and guess which parts of the vegetable they were holding. This out-of-the-box activity inspired smiles and creative thought.

Above ornaments created by the Piscataquis Regional YMCA after-school kiddos

Piscataquis Healthy Food For All:

what’s happening next?


A snapshot of Turkey Hands created with the PRYMCA pre-school and after-school kiddos. Patrons of the food cupboard were delighted to receive these gifts!

Food is an especially big deal this time of year for everyone, whether we have all the food we need or whether we don’t. Another thing we all have in common: we all can use some help eating healthier. This month, and throughout 2017, Piscataquis Healthy Food for All will be working with food cupboards around the county to make sure their patrons can easily find the healthy foods they need to help manage and prevent serious conditions like diabetes and heart disease. There are lots of thing that can happen fairly easily (and by using existing resources) to organize foods in the food pantries so that it’s simple to quickly identify the healthiest food choices. We’ll also work to help donors learn more about the types of foods that are best to donate, like low-sodium soups and low-sugar cereals.

We’re also thinking about how we can feed people’s souls with things like music and art and crafts. This Thanksgiving, day care and after-school kids at the Y made colorful “hand turkeys” to give to folks at the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard while they waited to pick up their food. On December 22nd, some of those same kids will attend the distribution to lend a helping hand. We’re also hoping to find someone to come play holiday music to add some cheefor the food cupboard customers and volunteers.

Back at the Y, we’ll be asking the seniors who attend the Y’s Forever Fit classes to share their ideas about how to eat healthy during the holidays. We’ll post their suggestions on the Feel Good Piscataquis Facebook page- along with yummy, affordable recipes and fun food activities for kids. Simple gestures, simple solutions. We all have them – let’s share them! What are yours?

Fun at the Farmers Market

above: sunshine, coloring pages, local apples, hand baked cinnamon cranberry monkey bread and an interactive farmers market game

It was a beautiful Saturday morning at the market last weekend. The Healthy Community Project modified the “Help Build a Puzzle Project” so that kids could interact with the farmers and find farm produce. Each time a child spun the wheel, they would land at an item that could only be found at the market. But where oh where could those green tomatoes be? This gave them an opportunity to explore the market, and in some instances, interact with the farmers during the hunt for whatever item they needed to find. Once the child located the item they had several options for prizes- apple slices from Rollins, monkey bread from Leaves and Blooms, stickers, a book mark or coloring pages.

Part B of the “Help Build a Puzzle” market game was to free assosciate on what they knew (or what they didn’t know but had a chance to talk about) on said located market item. They wrote or drew their thoughts on a puzzle piece. Pictured below is what followed!


 Feel Good Piscataquis!

Health and Wellness Expo


On the 18th of August, 22 local vendors working in various ways in the health and wellness sector convened at the Kiwanis Club in Milo. From 10-2 the sounds of resource sharing, booth demonstrations, conversation regarding sugar and sodium intake, chaga harvesting, photobooth picture taking and more could be heard.

Below are a few pictures of the event!

The #socialmediacarrot posing with the Healthy Community Project Assistant/VISTA holding a fruit coloring page offered for kids (and grown ups too!)

A thanks to the participating vendors and to the community members who were able to attend!

Community Conversation

After Dinner Discussions

It’s been a little over a week since the Healthy Community Project hosted a community dinner and Healthy Community Project business meeting at the lovely Mill Inn and Cafe in Dover. We are still so full of gratitude for the support and wonderful turn out! Of special consideration is the participation and discussion that followed dinner. The mission of the Healthy Community Project- to increase access to healthy food for everyone- wouldn’t be possible without community partnerships. Not only were we able to reach a decision on prioritizing Healthy Community plans but we also collectively began discussing ways community members can be a part of creating a healthier Piscataquis County.

 Farm Sharings

Healthy Community Project began our first round of produce delivery to Homebound Seniors from Wyman’s farm a few weeks ago. We’ve continued also to deliver to our 8 homebound folks in the Guilford/Dover area who are receiving farmshare from Stuzmans.

Wyman’s Farm in Milo welcomes visitors in with feline friendliness and a fridge full of giant cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower.

Not only can visitors to the stand find a wide array of fresh produce- but records and books for sale too! Pictured here are the records and potatoes, and Marilyn Wyman at the helm.


One of the stops on the route for Farm Share for Homebound Seniors (FSHS) is an apartment complex in Milo. Pictured above, is a sign on the community entrance bulletin board. What a great reminder!

And below we have a few shots from the colorful set up at Stuzmans Farm and Bakery.


Although the harvesting of lettuce, as pictured above, has passed, visitors to the bakery and cafe can still expect corn, scallion onions, carrots, tomatoes, and green peppers. There might even be a few of those delicious pickling cukes and blueberries left!

Summer Meals: Food and Fun!

Healthy Community Project recently had the joy of participating in the Milo Elementary Summer Meal Program this past Thursday, July 14th. The summer school students enjoyed coloring pages with the tag line “Fruit is naturally sweet, delicious and fun to eat!” while others waited to participate in the “Help Build A Puzzle” project. Similar to the project Healthy Community brought to the SeDoMoCha kick off, this project focused on starting conversations with kids about what healthy foods are and where they come from.


Pictured above; the Milo Elementary changes their menu every day to reflect food groups and healthy options!

Pictured here are two photos- hung on either side of the gymnasium/lunchroom. It is not a hard guess the message here; healthy food options bring healthy bones and a happy body while the alternative habits of soda and fried foods wreak a bit of havoc!


Pictured above; are the results of the “help build a puzzle” activity. With only the prompting of a few questions such as “What do you think of lemons”, “What do you know about asparagus” the kids at Milo Elementary were able to begin thinking and discussing where healthy food comes from, what they know and like (or dislike!) about each.

Giving Back Nutritionally

in Piscataquis County

Healthy Community Project is pleased to present an article submitted in this weeks edition of Seniors Matters. This was a collaborative piece with selections from Erin Callaway and Merrilee Schoen of Healthy Community, Meg Callaway of Piscataquis Thriving in Place (TiP) Collaborative and Alicia Mooney of Community Health and Counseling Services.


Giving Back Nutritionally in Piscataquis County

Many older adults struggle to get healthy, nutritious food. Living on a fixed income, losing a spouse, no longer driving, experiencing depression, being rurally isolated, and having a medical  condition all can affect how well or often seniors eat. Eating well is critical to good health, and poor nutrition can have devastating consequences, particularly as we age.

The Healthy Community Project, led by the Piscataquis Regional YMCA, and the Piscataquis Thriving in Place (TiP) Collaborative, led by the Charlotte White Center, both offer resources for seniors who could use a hand getting better access to healthy food.  The Healthy Community Project strives to increase access to healthy foods across the Piscataquis region, and TiP helps older and medically vulnerable adults to stay safe and well in their homes.

The FarmShare for Homebound Seniors project works with Wyman’s Farm in Milo and Stutzman’s Farm in Sangerville to ensure that qualified seniors get a free $50 share of fresh produce when they are not physically able to pick up their farms’ harvest.  To participate, an individual must be at least 60 years old, and meet the 2016 Maine Senior FarmShare guidelines (for a one person household a max. of 21,775/year and for a two person household 29,471/year). Individuals who qualify may not have reliable transportation, or they may have a physical disability that prevents them from leaving their house.  This pilot project is also available to caregivers who are unable to leave the person they care for in order to retrieve their produce.  The FarmShare for Homebound Seniors offers qualified individuals either a ride to the farm or home delivery.   The summer season isn’t over yet, so if you think you may qualify, or know someone who might, please give a call to learn how to sign up.

In partnership with Spruce Mill Farm, the TiP Collaborative helps to subsidize meals for medically vulnerable adults through a voucher program.  TiP can also connect eligible individuals with Eastern Area Agency on Aging’s 4-D Catering Service that provides home delivered meals. These organizations are working together to help decrease food insecurity, as there is a recognized understanding that, “Food Insecure” describes over 10 million people in the United States over the age for 50 according to the AARP. (AARP Bulletin, December 2015). The Piscataquis County Thriving in Place project understands that adults with chronic illnesses may be at higher risk for food insecurity. People are being discharged home from the hospitals and may not be able to prepare or secure food necessary to help them recover from the illness. Often times, people are seeking medical treatment from their family physicians without being hospitalized and are facing the same food insecurity issues. The Piscataquis TIP project has partnered with Dustin and Natasha Colbry of Spruce Mill Farm and Kitchen to help address the nutritional needs of those who have recently experienced an acute illness. Spruce Mill Farm and Kitchen, located on West Main Street in Dover Foxcroft, has a selection of fresh or frozen meals available for people who are at risk for food insecurity while recovering from a recent illness. A voucher program has been developed. The vouchers have been distributed to the Mayo Regional Hospital and C.A. Dean hospital to give to patients upon discharge. Each patient and his/her caregiver are eligible for 3 meal vouchers. The vouchers may be redeemed at Spruce Mill Farm any time that they are open. Physician offices in the county have also received the vouchers to assist patients that have been seen in the office with an acute illness. At the current time, the Piscataquis TIP program is subsidizing the meal program. The hope is that Spruce Mill Farm will be able to continue to subsidize the program as their own business grows. Dustin and Natasha are dedicated to helping the TIP program by meeting the nutritional needs of people with chronic illnesses or disabilities who are experiencing an exacerbation of their condition.

Healthy Community and TiP are both funded by generous grants from the Maine Health Access Foundation. Together they have formed a partnership called “Feel Good Piscataquis!” to help people in the region improve their health and quality of life.  For information about any of the services described in this column, call 564-0273. The Spruce Mill Farm and Kitchen can be reached at 564-0300.

Summer Meals Kickoff


Today not only marks the first day of July but the Kickoff for SeDoMoChas’ Summer Meal Program! From 11 to 1 today kids enjoyed lunch and several fun activities. Featured activities after lunch were: face painting, celery stick painting, popsicle stick crafts, seedlings to plant and an interactive “puzzle” from Healthy Communities.


The “Help Build a Puzzle” guided kids to free associate on words picked from spinning a wheel, then write thoughts on a puzzle piece and put together! It was great fun to talk about what comes to mind when hearing about various fruits and vegetables.


And last but not least, Carrot made an appearance supporting Dover Cove Farmers Market!

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A Carrot Pickin’ Good Time

On a chill November morning a group of hearty volunteers including Erin Callaway coordinator of the YMCA’s Health Community Project and Andy VanEss from the Piscataquis Public Health Coalition joined UMaine Cooperative Extension’s Horticulturist, Katherine Garland to work at the Kousky Farm in Corinth on a carrot harvest.

medCarrot 6
medCarrot 8 medCarrot 2

They were invited to “get their hands dirty” and help harvest 2, 175 foot rows of carrots to be distributed at the Dover-Foxcroft Area Food Cupboard and the Milo Food Cupboard. They harvested roughly 50-60 lbs of carrots.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Eating healthy food is an important part of feeling good and lowering the risk of many chronic conditions and diseases. But many people have a hard time getting healthy foods. Why? For some people, cost is an issue. For others, it’s physical access — the stores they live near don’t sell healthy foods or they can’t get to the stores that do. For many people it’s a matter of understanding what healthy food really is! There is so much information these days about what people should and shouldn’t eat that it can feel really difficult to figure out which way to turn. hc2
hc1 The Healthy Community Initiative is multi-year project being led by the Y to bring together people from all around Piscataquis County to talk about how EVERYONE can get the good food they need. It’s about creating community-driven solutions that will LAST, using as many resources as we can that already exist in our neighborhoods and towns. The conversation is open to all! In fact, the success of Healthy Community depends on hearing from as many people as possible. That includes you! For more information about the Healthy Community Initiative and to find out how you can get involved contact project coordinator Erin Callaway at e.callaway@prymca.org or at 343-0171.
The Healthy Community Initiative is one of several efforts underway in our region to help people live healthier lives. Together, these projects are being called “Feel Good Piscataquis!” These projects and many others around the state are being funded by the Maine Health Access Foundation(MeHAF). MeHAF’s mission is to promote access to quality health care, especially for those who are uninsured and underserved, and improve the health of everyone in Maine. For more information on MeHAF visit their website and check back here for more information about “Feel Good Piscataquis!” events and about our newly updated Facebook page!

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