Traci Anello and Debbie Hall Daily Point of Light Award Honoree

Bilateral volunteering to fight food insecurity and teach healthy eating

Since January 2022, The Community Gourmet has reached out to over 1,000 food insecure people. / Courtesy Tracy Annelo Annad Debbie Hall

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honors Tracy Anello and Debbie Hall. Read their story and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a daily spotlight.

This was the silver lining of the epidemic, according to Tracy Anello and Debbie Hall. They originally wanted to bring healthy food and cooking classes to community spaces, but when COVID-19 restrictions took effect, the two changed their plans to get food and education directly in the homes.

release The Community Gourmet In January 2022, Debbie, of Arundel, Maine and Tracy, a resident of Kennebunkport, Maine, provided meal kits to more than 1,000 food-insecure people to prepare healthy meals, with the goal of helping teach as well as provide basic cooking skills. Nutritious meals. Take advantage of their skills forever, my colleagues at Southern Maine Healthcare They fill tummies and fill a need in their community, one meal set at a time.

What inspires you to volunteer?

Tracy: We believe that cooking creates confidence. I was inspired to know that we can teach people basic cooking skills which in turn can inspire them. Hopefully by teaching people to become inspired, they will have the confidence not only to cook for the family but also to have the confidence to do other things.

Why this reason?

Debbie: We know that food insecurity is a huge problem in Maine. Often, when people go to the pantry, they get random ingredients that they don’t know how to put together. We thought we’d add recipes to the collections and teach people how to cook.

Describe your volunteer work with The Community Gourmet.

Debbie: We are the co-founders of the organization, Traci serves as CEO and Chairman and I am the Vice President and Vice President. We both bring very different skills to the organization. I write letters asking for donations, keep books, and come up with meal kit ideas.

Tracy: I’ve been a chef by trade for 35 years, making recipes and preparing meal combinations. I also do deliveries to warehouses. These are educational groups, we don’t just distribute food, but we provide lessons on how to cook and shop for healthy food. For example, people could have a pasta group that feeds a family of four that includes pasta, tomato sauce, cheese, and mayonnaise. Groups teach people that there are cooking options – you can make pasta salad, not just spaghetti and meatballs. Each set also contains a pound of coffee, and each set contains an essential kitchen gadget. We also have a fundraiser and bakery shop for fundraisers. Our meal kits are available at organizations throughout the community, including: small storeAnd the York County Shelter Pantryand St. Mary’s Church in Wales, Maine and One big love community.

Traci Anello and Debbie Hall Daily Point of Light Honoree
Community Gourmet founders Debbie Hall (left) and Traci Anello (right) create meal kits that teach basic cooking skills as well as provide nutritious food. / Courtesy of Traci Anello anad Debbie Hall

Share with me a personal story from your volunteer work.

Tracy: A woman approached us during a fundraiser and said she was worried about food being given to her daughter, who lives in a group home. We asked her to take home the set of meals for the workers. At our next fundraiser, she showed up and couldn’t thank us enough. The workers used the recipe and followed the directions and not only enjoyed the cooking, but now the food is so much better. Sometimes people who live in food insecure homes don’t know how to cook at home, and that doesn’t mean they don’t want to learn. This is proof that groups work the way we wish they would and it’s also proof of why we do it. I am glad to know that I can teach someone to cook, and I know it will be a better day for the family because they will start eating better and they will be more inspired. Knowing that this is the best feeling in the world.

Why do you think it is important for others to participate?

Debbie: There is a saying – to whom much is given, much is required. I have never felt food insecure. We grew up having a family dinner. We know that not all people can do this. It’s very special for us to be able to educate people and then maybe people start having family meals together.

Tracy: I suffered from food insecurity as a teenager. This is why I am so passionate about helping others so they don’t have to go through this. I don’t talk about it, but (this interview) helped me realize that there is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, telling my story might be useful to someone.

What is the most rewarding part of your service?

Tracy: We include a self-addressed postcard with a survey in our collections. When I receive the postcards and see how grateful people are, I feel good knowing we are doing the right thing. We want people to know they are being heard. This is really important to me.

In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?

Debbie: Two words. Restores.

Tracy: the love.

How can readers help?

We maintain an Amazon Wish List that we rely on for donations. Please visit Our Location For more information on how you can help.

Do you want to make a difference in your community as Traci Anello and Debbie Hall do? Find local volunteer opportunities.

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