This summer, the Magic Food Bus is celebrating its tenth season of offering free, fresh, local produce, health information, and books for children and adults. Planning is already underway for a great summer, even with the social distancing required to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus! All activities are designed to meet CDC guidelines.

This popular project was started in 2011 when Sedgwick School Librarian Margaret Bixby’s great idea was recognized as a perfect match for Healthy Peninsula’s Good Food Project. The focus on trying new and healthy foods is matched by the availability of library or donated books for both children and adults—good food and good summer reading. If you're interested in learning how the program got rolling, check out Margaret Bixby's short history here.

This year, Magic Food Bus stops and activities may look different, shaping distribution to mirror the needs and resources of each town. Although each stop will feature the usual tables filled with fresh, almost-too-beautiful-to-eat produce, Castine and Penobscot families can also benefit from home delivery by a Community Compass Navigator, Sedgwick will sport a new school farmstand, and the Brooklin and Surry School PTFA members will include Food Bus produce in conjunction with their student backpack programs. As an added service in this COVID-19 time of physical distancing, anyone needing a produce delivery can call the Healthy Peninsula office at 374-3257, leave a message with their contact information, and they will get a response within 24 hours.

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Since its beginnings in Sedgwick in 2011, the Magic Food Bus successfully expanded to Deer Isle, Stonington, Blue Hill, Penobscot, Brooksville, and Surry and often serves more than 50 people weekly in each town. With an eye toward long-term sustainability, Healthy Peninsula has teamed up with several partner organizations and energetic individuals to help with collection of produce, volunteer power, fundraising, and broader community involvement. Anna Wind, our Healthy Eating coordinator, is leading the efforts to get the wheels on the bus goin' round and round for this season. But you know, just in case you're confused, the Magic Food Bus really lives in the cars of our volunteer drivers.

The most natural and exciting fit for collaboration continues with the Healthy Acadia Gleaning Initiative. Rachel Emus, Gleaning Coordinator, organizes volunteers to harvest excess produce from farmers, orchards, farmer’s markets, and home and school gardens, and disperses them to local food pantries and community meal sites. The Magic Food Bus program is fortunate to be the recipient of much of this effort. FarmDrop, operated by Healthy Acadia in partnership with Fairwinds Florist is our direct conduit to local farmers, allowing produce to be ordered from them directly and then distributed via the Magic Food Bus out into the community. Along with grabbing a book, visits to the stops may also include taste-testing, socializing with friends and neighbors and swapping recipes. Our island partner is the Edible Island Culinary and Ecological Center. Other important partners include the Deer Isle and Stonington Public Libraries, the Sedgwick School Library, and the Blue Hill Public library for providing good quality reading material for young and older folks alike.

Fundraising continues to be an important element in the sustainability of the Magic Food Bus. We depend on, and greatly appreciate donations through Healthy Peninsula and Farm Drop—where customers can donate directly to the purchase of food for the Magic Food Bus by clicking on the Magic Food Bus icon and adding a dollar amount to their cart. Through the years, we have been honored with generous support from The Maine Community Foundation's Hancock County and Yoakum Funds, the Stanley Family Foundation, United Way of Eastern Maine,  the Blue Hill Co-op, Maine Farmland Trust, Bar Harbor Banking and Trust,The First, the Tree of Life Food Pantry, Tradewinds, St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church, and Flash! in the Pans. Thank you one and all!