Cumberland County 4-H Chicken to Kitchen Project. Left to Right: Aidan Martel, Aine Martel, Natalie Domin, Clara Domin, Rachel Wiest, Front: Taylor Lucas. Courtesy of Sara Conant

Two Freeport High School graduates worked this year to help organize, raise and donate 160 chickens to combat hunger in Maine.

Natalie Domin, Rachel Wiest and Lizzie Soule first launched “Chicken to Kitchen” in 2020 while wrapping up their senior year. This year, Domin and Wiest expanded the project to collaborate with the Cumberland County 4-H Teen Council, a local chapter of a youth development organization that both had previously been involved with.

While Domin, Wiest and Soule divided raising about 80 chickens during the project’s first year, this year the projected brought in 12 different families from 4-H, who each raised between 10 and 25 chickens beginning in May.

After being brought to the butcher, the chickens were delivered to food security organizations across Maine June 21.

4-H Chicken to Kitchen 2021. Left to Right: Clara Domin, Natalie Domin, Rachel Wiest. Courtesy of Sara Conant

“Something that my friends and I have always been very passionate about is educating people about where our food comes from and the importance of agriculture,” Domin said. “It’s something that a lot of people are lacking the knowledge about, and a lot of misconceptions can be spread about it.”

Domin said another inspiration for the project was prior work the group had done with Good Shepard Food Bank.


“It was really interesting to kind of learn about the need we have in our community,” Domin said.

According to a Feeding America, a national hunger-relief organization, 166,910 people are hungry in Maine. Of them, 44,520 are children. This translates to one in eight people and one in six children in the state that are facing hunger.

“It was our most popular project we’ve had this year as far as a county wide perspective,” said 4-H Teen Council Leader Sara Conant. “I was kind of surprised how many people were ready to raise some chickens.”

Conant said that as the advisor, she helped facilitate the meetings, purchase the chicks and assist with other logistics.

Domin, who just finished her first year at University of Maine studying animal and veterinarian science, said that after the initial 180 chicks were delivered to her house, she ended up raising 20. Both years the project has been funded primarily through donations and fundraising, Domin added.

The organizations that received chickens this year include Freeport Community Services, Preble Street Food Pantry, Cumberland Food Pantry and Gray-New Gloucester Food Pantry.


According to Freeport Community Services Communications Manager Christine Lyons, the Freeport-based food pantry received 35 chickens the first year and 40 the second.

“It’s really had such a tremendous impact because for our families having locally raised, healthy food is such a wonderful thing,” Lyons said, noting that the whole, frozen chickens are given out to food pantry patrons.

Like other services and programs offered by Freeport Community Services, the pantry is available to both Freeport and Pownal residents free of charge.

Next, Domin said that while things are still in the works, “Chicken to Kitchen” will definitely continue into the future and the group is exploring new ideas for the operation going forward.

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