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February 19, 2016

Harvard Pilgrim grants help fight obesity, promote healthy food in Maine

Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation awarded MaineHealth $109,000 for its “Let’s Go!” childhood obesity prevention program in 2015.

The Portland-based health care system was one of seven Maine-based organizations receiving major grants from the foundation, the Wellesley-Mass.-based nonprofit announced in a year-end report on its charitable activities that was released this week.

The foundation distributed $2.3 million in grants to 700 nonprofit organizations in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut in 2015. Since its inception in 1980, the foundation has granted more than $135 million in funds throughout the four states. In 2015, the foundation’s major grants in Maine totaled almost $400,000.

In a statement, the foundation reported it has successfully closed out its eight-year investment in preventing childhood obesity in 2015 and has the Healthy Food Fund. It distributed more than $1.5 million in grants last year in Healthy Food Fund initiatives within the four-state region, with funds supporting programs that grow, distribute and market fresh food for families and communities. Lewiston/Auburn was among the recipients of grants supporting mobile farmers markets, the foundation stated in its report.

Other 2015 Maine grant recipients mentioned in Harvard Pilgrim’s summary:

  • $40,000 — St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center (Lewiston/Auburn) and Cultivating Community, Good Food Bus Mobile Farmers’ Market.
  • $50,000 — Cultivating Community (Portland), expand CSA shares; cooking and nutrition classes.
  • $50,000 — Healthy Communities of the Capital Area (Southern Kennebec County), expand gleaning and food processing through Restorative Community Harvest Program.
  • $50,000 — Maine Farmland Trust (Biddeford, Portland, Saco, South Portland and Westbrook), SNAP incentives at farmers markets, CSA programs, food hubs and co-ops.
  • $50,000 — Wolfe’s Neck Farm Foundation (greater Bath and Brunswick), teen agriculture program; cooking and nutrition programming.
  • $40,000 — Community garden grants (statewide), expansion of nine community gardens.
  • $2,500 — Camp Sunshine (Casco),  support for mission-driven needed resources.

In addition to the $1.5 million distributed in Healthy Food Fund grants, the foundation also awarded $616,000 to 700 organizations in 275 communities through Harvard Pilgrim’s Community Spirit 9/11 Mini-Grants program. This program allows each Harvard Pilgrim Health Care employee to annually award a $500 grant, completely funded by the foundation, to the charity of his or her choice. Since the inception of this employee-directed community grant program in 2002, the foundation has contributed more than $4.6 million to thousands of organizations in the region. Areas of support have included schools, food pantries, youth development organizations and fundraising events.

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