PALERMO — The Living Communities Foundation has received two grants to help ameliorate food insecurity challenges brought on by the pandemic, including supply chain damage, job losses and social isolation.

Connie Bellet, foundation president, announced that Palermo Community Garden received a SeedMoney crowdfunding grant amounting to $1,665, which is going toward tools, soil amendments, seeds and supplies. The garden yields between 380 and 450 pounds of fresh, organic produce every growing season, and the food goes directly to the Palermo Food Pantry. The Living Communities Foundation provides space at the Palermo Community Center for the weekly Food Pantry, which is supported by Good Shepherd Food Bank and Hannaford.

“Palermo is very fortunate that Wild Miller Farm, Bruce Potter, Field of Greens, John Bunker and Cammy Watts, and other small local growers also bring in excess crops for distribution to elders, the disabled, veterans, and those who have lost jobs due to COVID,” Bellet said in a press release May 9.  “The Food Pantry provides nourishing food for 35 to 50 families per week,” she said. The pantry is open every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to noon.

A steep rise in fuel and electricity costs, plus a breakdown in transportation of the annual produce-based fundraisers has also put pressure on the foundation, Bellet said. A $2,700 increase in trucking costs halted its annual Vidalia onion sale, “but negotiations are still ongoing to obtain New Jersey peaches for August.”

In the meantime, United Midcoast Charities granted the foundation $3,675 to defray heating oil and electricity costs to keep the Food Pantry comfortable and run the refrigeration systems. “This grant came at the perfect time, as oil prices were skyrocketing beyond $4 a gallon,” Bellet said. “The Community Center uses about 500 gallons of oil a year, depending on the severity of the winter, so this grant was extremely appreciated.”

Palermo’s Living Communities Foundation, the Community Center, the Community Garden and the Food Pantry are all run by volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering or serving on the board of directors is welcome to call Bellet or Phil White Hawk at 993-2294. “Your donations of talent, energy, and service to the community are as appreciated as funding, and help our team build a more sustainable network of neighbors,” Bellet said. “The board of directors extends a big ‘Thank You’ to all of you who continue to support the Living Communities Foundation.”

Vegetable seedlings for the Palermo Community Garden. Courtesy of Connie Bellet