NEWPORT — The Northeast Kingdom has the highest poverty rates in the state and a population where nearly one in five residents is age 65 or older. Cornucopia, a social enterprise launched last year by nonprofit social justice organization Umbrella, addresses two of our region’s most pressing problems, hunger and unemployment, through creativity, empowerment, and community collaboration.
Their mission is to expand transitional job skills for women in culinary arts, and bring fresh, local food to seniors. They are currently looking to raise the necessary funds to grow the project.
Cornucopia trains women who are in transition, whether this is from an abusive relationship, reentry after incarceration, or recovery from addiction. The women in the program have all experienced trauma that undermines their ability to develop and maintain work relationships, which in turn limits their ability to lead safe, self-directed lives.
Cornucopia provides a supportive work training experience that builds confidence and marketable job skills in the culinary arts and hospitality field. Trainees are also giving back to their community by preparing more than 600 meals per week for older people receiving Meals-on-Wheels and attending the weekly meal site.
With just 19 days left in their fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo, Cornucopia is reaching out to the community and looking to raise money to continue their efforts. The results from their first year prove that the program works.
Fifteen women participated in the 17 week job skills and economic empowerment program, serving 21,500 warm and healthy meals to 120 older adults in the Northeast Kingdom.
Cornucopia’s launch last year encountered a number of obstacles. Just two weeks before they began to cook Meals on Wheels, their kitchen fell through. They launched anyway, thanks to the generosity of community partners like the Newport City Fire Department and United Church of Newport, who let them use their kitchens while they found a place of our own.
The program has its own space now, and have more than doubled the number of meals they provide to the community. But that rough start left them needing to raise money to continue the program.
If you would like to donate, or to learn more, visit their IndieGoGo page at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cornucopia-nourishing-hearts-minds-and-bodies#home