When we set out to find supporters for our first-ever Source Sustainability Awards in 2015, one of the first people we met with was Karen Voci, president of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, who immediately said, “What can we do to help?” And Karen and the foundation have been supporting the Source awards ever since.

But they didn’t just write us a check (although that was helpful and appreciated), they rolled up their sleeves and got involved. Karen created and presented the Harvard Pilgrim Healthy Food Champion Award, served as a Source awards judge and literally showed up each year (when we had the awards ceremony in person, of course) to show the foundation’s commitment, not just to our event, but to all of Maine.

Supporting the Source awards is just one small piece of how Karen and the foundation give back to Maine. The list of how Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation supports healthy lifestyles and local food in the state is long.

• Karen focused the foundation’s grant program on access to healthy food based on results from a special pilot grant program supporting local food in Maine in 2012.

• The foundation has provided grants totaling more than $3.83 million to food access programs in Maine, including the state’s first mobile farmers market in Lewiston/Auburn.

• They have ensured HPHC employees are giving their time to the community – almost 800 hours have been donated by Harvard Pilgrim employees to help Maine nonprofits.


• Recognizing Maine’s demographics, they focused part of the foundation’s work on healthy aging by supporting Maine caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s and Meals on Wheels Food delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

• They provided over $1.7 million in financial support to Maine organizations during the COVID crisis in 2020, including $220,000 for a partnership with Cooking for Community and the YMCA of Southern Maine to deliver hot meals and healthy food to thousands of families and older adults in need.

This fall, I had the opportunity to visit the Alan Day Community Garden in Norway to hear how they’ve made use of the grant provided by the foundation. I met a group committed to improving food insecurity in Oxford County and learned how they’ve made the garden the heart of the community, hosting garden dinners featuring brick-oven pizza overflowing with toppings, picked fresh from the garden. I was so pleased to see HPHCF renew their support for the Alan Day Community Garden with a recent grant of $35,000 to help the volunteer and youth leadership program staff expand capacity and increase food production.

A highlight for me each year at the Source awards is when Karen speaks. In addition to presenting the Healthy Food Champion Award, she has this incredible and enviable quality of gleaning the most important elements of the evening and wrapping them into her closing remarks. We all leave feeling satisfied, inspired and touched by her words.

On behalf of the Source team at the Press Herald, the winners through the years and all the organizations who have benefited from the generosity of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, we say thank you to you and your tireless leader, Karen Voci, as she heads out on her next adventure. We appreciate all you do in support of Maine.

Karen Voci, president of the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, with Nyaruot Nguany, program manager for Maine Environmental Changemakers and recipient of the Healthy Food Champion Award at the 2019 Source awards ceremony. Photo by Amy Paradysz

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