NEWBURYPORT — With a $45,000 goal, Nourishing the North Shore kicked off its fundraiser via Patronicity today, May 27, to benefit its mission of expanding healthy food access to all.
“We’re definitely setting our goals high because we know how high the need is,” program coordinator Kailey Burke said, adding that the nonprofit distributed more than 53,000 pounds of locally grown produce to middle- and low-income families last year.
Since March, the group has ramped up its services to respond to “a massive increase” in need, Burke said. The nonprofit achieved this by launching an online ordering system, directly delivering supplies to people who cannot leave their homes and coordinating food and toiletry donations with groups such as First Parish Community Church Food Pantry in Newbury.
Through its own programs and classes as well as partnerships with local food pantries, Nourishing the North Shore is dedicated to short- and long-term community health initiatives.
“A lot of our work is immediate needs — getting food of farms and to families directly — and then also the long-term question of how can we change the food system so that there’s more equity in local food,” Burke said.
The organization works to fulfill this goal by partnering with local farmers and food pantries to increase healthy food access, as well as educating others about inequity in the food system. In 2018, the nonprofit raised money to build a community garden in West Newbury, which over 45 gardeners now use, Burke said.
A lot of farmers experienced the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well, with the cancellation of some farmers’ markets and limited sales as restaurants were shut down. Nourishing the North Shore is working with those entities to buy surplus produce and provide income to small farmers, she explained.
Though a majority of the organization’s funding comes through grant writing and support from Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, community involvement is just as crucial, Burke said.
“It’s a bittersweet thing,” Burke said of COVID-19 and how the community has responded. “A lot of what we’re feeling is that our work is being extremely validated, which is a double-edged sword. We feel validated in what we’re doing and so when we take money from people, we want the best outcome.
“We promise to fulfill our mission with it,” she said. “The ultimate outcome for Nourishing is that we don’t exist anymore because we don’t have a food injustice problem.”
The campaign runs through June 30. To learn more or to donate, go to www.patronicity.com/nourishingthenorthshore.
If donation by check is preferred, make it out to the YWCA of Greater Newburyport, the nonprofit’s fiscal sponsor, and write NNS in the memo. Nourishing the North Shore’s mailing address is 13 Market St., Newburyport, MA 01950.
For more information on Nourishing the North Shore’s programs and partners, visit www.nourishingthenorthshore.org.