Cabot Creamery Cooperative supported Rising Tide Co-op’s Loving Local Meals program by donating cheddar for macaroni and cheese served the week of March 22, enabling the co-op to purchase more local products from other farms.
Loving Local Meals started as a way to expand the co-op’s contributions to food pantries as well as keep kitchen staff at Rising Tide employed when the hot bar had to shut down due to pandemic restrictions. Since the spring of 2020, the program has provided more than 12,000 meals to food pantries in Boothbay, Jefferson, Newcastle, New Harbor, Waldoboro, and Wiscasset.
Loving Local is a win-win for the local community and economy as it supports food pantries and invests in local farms. The program’s goal is to provide community members with food that is sourced from small local producers as much as possible. Every week, kitchen staff and a group of volunteers cook and pack 300 healthy, hot meals for partnering food pantries.
A regular stream of donations for the program has allowed Rising Tide to purchase products from local farmers and source 1/3 of ingredients from nearby farms for all the meals prepared.
General Manager Heather Burt said Rising Tide’s commitment to local farms and community support is fundamental to the co-op’s existence.
“An important emphasis of Rising Tide’s purpose is to support our community through the development of a strong local food economy. By collaborating with a network of partners to create positive impacts for our neighbors and the broader environment, we are helping lead the way toward more sustainable and just food and environmental choices,” Burt said.
Recognizing the important role dairy farmers play in Maine and New England’s communities and economy, Rising Tide approached Cabot Creamery Cooperative about collaborating on a Loving Local meal. The program’s dual commitment to the local community and economy is what made the partnership such a strong collaboration.
Flood Brothers Farm, a member of Cabot Cooperative Creamery, is a third-generation farm in Clinton on Penobscot territory lands and is one of 69 Cabot dairy farms in Maine. Dairy farms make a significant impact on their communities and the state’s economy by employing thousands of workers and patronizing businesses that support their daily operations.
Jenni Tilton-Flood understands the importance of a strong local food system in supporting the working lands businesses that have an economic multiplier-effect. She also understands the importance of gratitude and giving back.
“As a Cabot Dairy Farm we know how important being a part of our community is, not just for our business, but for our neighbors and all of our futures. When we find ways to give back, like collaborating in business to help those in need, we know we are living up to our principles as a B Corp, a Co-operative, and as members of the community,” Tilton-Flood said.
Tilton-Flood was excited to hear about this partnership because she has been a volunteer for her local food pantry, and this project brought together her passions for serving others and helping people understand how dairy farms contribute to the community.
The impact of Maine’s local food economy is huge. In 2020, Rising Tide purchased nearly $2 million in Maine products, including more than $500,000 in produce from local farmers. The co-op is committed to continuing to grow the amount of local food it offers to further increase that impact.
For more information about Rising Tide’s Loving Local Meals program, go to risingtide.coop/loving-local-meals.