Food for Thought Mobilized by Momentum

By Lura Jackson


A few of the Calais Food for Thought volunteers that have contributed to the group's success in reaching the extended community. Front left to right, Therese McCormick, Jodi  Cox, Kathy Holmes, Emilie Poole, Beth Clifford, Back row, Marcia Rogers, Sue Clark, Cathy Scullin, Helen Messemer-Thomas, Andres Swift, Sharon Grant, Nita White, Anne Perry, Gloria Hollingdale. (Submitted photo)

The momentum of the Calais-born Food for Thought program is propelling it into nearby communities this summer. The program concluded its Winter-Spring curriculum on May 3rd, and it is now preparing to host events in both Pleasant Point and Indian Township while working in conjunction with Project Launch, an initiative of the Passamaquoddy tribe. 

The events in both locations, which do not yet have a date, will focus primarily on the topic of nutrition at the request of tribe coordinators. Like each of the previous Food for Thought events, a homemade free meal will be offered to all attendees, along with giveaways. An approximately twenty-minute presentation will be given to adults about nutrition while children engage in a variety of hands-on activities.  

Food for Thought began in January of 2016 as a result of a group of volunteers in Calais organizing to empower the community through positive, reinforcing interactions at nearly-monthly free events. As additional support from organizations and grant funds came in, the program found increasing support from the community in enthusiasm and attendance. While dedicated to families with children under the age of 12, attendees from every generation are present at every event.

The program on May 3rd featured the topic of outdoor activities in the area over the summer months. Guest speakers Colin Brown of Downeast Lakes Land Trust and Craig Morrison of the Calais Recreation Department spoke to parents about the numerous opportunities in the immediate area for kids and families to participate in.

Former topics have focused on raising awareness of resources and programs such as Family Futures Downeast and Washington County Community College’s collaborations with Calais Regional Hospital and Woodland Pulp as well as milestones in early childhood development. Speakers have included Julie Redding and WCCC Academic Dean Alex Clifford and past activities have included yoga for adults and kids, food preparation, and velvet art. 

With participation within the community extending to hundreds of individuals, Food for Thought is making an impression with its commitment to strengthening the disadvantaged. The primary organizers, Helen Messemer-Thomas, Sue Clark, Gloria Hollingdale, Cathy Scullin, and Christine Morris, extend their special thanks to all the presenters, volunteers, businesses and churches who donated their time, talents and efforts for the first set of events.

Additional thanks are given to local organizations and state organizations for their donations and support.  This group includes the Congregational Church,  Methodist Church, Immaculate Conception, St. James, Catholic Charities Parish Social Ministry, Calais Press, Headstart, St. Croix Technical School Culinary Program, Washington County Community College (WCCC), and Irene Chadbourne Ecumenical Food Pantry as well as presenters Colin Brown, Downeast Lakes Land Trust; Craig Morrison, Calais Dept of Recreation; Calais Headstart; Joyce Smith, Calais Free Library; Julie Redding, LCPC; Alex Clifford, Sue Mingo and Dick Ramsey, WCCC; and Sara Williams Yoga Instructor, UMM Machias.


The series will start up again in the Fall with topics on “Nutrition,” “Family Dynamics and Child Development” and “Enjoying the Great Outdoors.”