Farm for Food Equity, a Cape Elizabeth-based nonprofit, collects surplus produce, such as this bulk cabbage, for donation to local food banks. The nonprofit has started up a new fundraiser, with a goal of $100,000. Contributed / Penny Jordan

A Cape Elizabeth nonprofit launched last year to feed the hungry using surplus farm produce is entering its second year with an eye toward expansion.

Farms for Food Equity has just begun its second fundraiser, and founder Penny Jordan, a Cape Elizabeth farmer and town councilor, said she aims to raise $100,000. Most of the money, she said, will go toward buying more produce from farms to donate to food banks and other charities.

In 2020, Jordan said, Farms for Food Equity bought and donated 18,000 pounds of produce.

This year, she also has her eye on a new initiative by developing or help develop a job training and placement program for farm laborers. With her nonprofit buying more produce, she said, it’s only natural to want to support the farmers that grow it.

“As you create this system, you can’t leave farmers high and dry,” she said.

Nate Drummond, a co-owner of Six River Farm in Bowdoinham who sells to Farms for Food Equity, welcomed the chance to see more labor development.

“There are less and less local people who grew up doing farm work or being exposed to farming,” he said.

Penelope “Penny” Jordan, of Cape Elizabeth, has created a nonprofit, Farms for Food Equity, now in its second year, to buy surplus produce from local farms and donate it to food banks. Contributed / Lauryn Hottinger MWM

Jordan said fighting hunger in Maine has always been an important cause for her. The idea for the nonprofit, she said, began last spring just before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, when she worked with Amanda Beal, commissioner of the state’s Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, on a state resolution to end hunger in Maine by 2030.

In Maine, 173,080 people are struggling with food insecurity, according to Feeding America. That represents 1 in 8 adults and 1 in 5 children, the organization says.

Jordan said she drew on her background with her family farm for inspiration.

“I took a look at the possibility of a nonprofit that focuses on the farms,” she said.

She worked with the Maine Farmland Trust to set up a network through which the nonprofit acquires surplus produce from farms as far away as the midcoast region.

Drummond said his farm often donates surplus produce to food banks, but he welcomes the opportunity to sell it to nonprofits such as Farms for Food Equity.

“We’re happy to donate, but we do also have to be a profitable business at the end of the day,” he said.

After buying the produce, the nonprofit then donates it to other nonprofits such as Good Shepherd Food Bank, Wayside Food Programs, Preble Street in Portland and the Food Cupboard in South Portland. Joe Conroy, Preble Street’s senior director of food programs and facilities, said Jordan, through her farm, has donated to Preble Street before.

“Penny’s initiative has sort of extended that,” he said.

Conroy said the nonprofit has donated kale, potatoes, corn and other root vegetables to Preble Street, and there’s more of a need now for food donations than ever before. In a typical fiscal year, which runs from July to June, he said, Preble Street donates a total of 600,000 prepared meals to the public, but by the end of this fiscal year, in June 2021, Conroy said he expects that number to swell to 1 million.

“We’re on track to do that,” he said.

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