March 13, 2023

Bringing Food Home

Quiet Contributors by Jess Breithaupt

When I was growing up, my Mom kept a jar in her office with little slips of paper that contained the names of family members and friends. Each month, she would draw a name out of the jar, and send the chosen person a card with an encouraging message and a little bit of cash. She believed that random acts of kindness could turn someone’s life around, and was happy to be the conduit for that goodness to flow.

Her charitable deeds were done quietly, just a secret between her and the receiver. In fact, if you bragged about it, she believed it would cancel out the action. Her motto for giving was, “Mum’s the word!”

There are a number of quiet contributors across our county, who do their giving the “Mum’s the word” way. That is what we do in Maine; we find ways to give back to those we care about, with our time, money, or a trade. We don’t like to take “something for nothing”, preferring to barter instead.

I deliver food to an older adult every week, and she makes it a point to ask if I need any fresh eggs from her chickens, to give to other clients. Another client collects the boxes and reusable bags that we pack his deliveries in and returns them to me each week. No one wants to be greedy either, and I frequently hear, “Give the food to someone who needs it more than me!”

We’re lucky to live in a community like this, where it’s natural to give what you have any abundance of, taking only what you need. For instance, Goranson Farm has been giving abundantly for years and years, in a very “Mum’s the word” way, without publicity or fanfare. They’re the main provider of food for our free food tables, and this winter we’ve gotten so many sweet potatoes from them that we’ve been able to supply new locations with the goods.

If you aren’t familiar with Goranson Farm, they are an organic farm located at 250 River Road in Dresden, and are famous for their potatoes, squash, carrots, and year-round greens. A constant fixture at farmer’s markets in the area, they produce a large amount of produce that they sell at their farm store, our local Co-op, and through their CSA boxes, which are monthly food subscriptions to the farm.

Each week, we pick up donations from their barn, along with the Merrymeeting Gleaners, a group based out of Brunswick. When I picked up at the farm this past weekend, I was stunned at the volume and quality of the food that they had ready for me. This is not something new for them; for many years, well before my time as a Food Security Community Connector, they had been setting food aside every week for those in need.

We take the food donations over to the Twin Villages Foodbank Farm’s Community Food Hub in Damariscotta, where my team of volunteers sort it. The most beautiful vegetables are set aside for share tables and food pantries. We find ways to use even the ugliest scraps of food, by sorting the imperfect items into bins for local kitchens to use, and into bins for the pigs at the Switchback Farm in Nobleboro. You should see the pigs come running when I pull up in the Healthy Lincoln County van.

I hope these behind-the-scenes glimpses inspire you to find a way to give back, in the spirit of reducing waste. Preferably in a “mum’s the word” kind of way. It could be as simple as asking a neighbor with livestock if they could ever use food scraps. If you’re looking for ideas, or have questions, please email me at

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