Story last updated at 9/18/2013 - 1:52 pm
The Sitka Local Foods Network has been selected as the Alaska representative in the fifth annual 50 States for Good contest, where one representative nonprofit organization from each state and the District of Columbia compete for a chance to win $10,000 from Tom's of Maine.
Supporters of the Sitka Local Foods Network can take part in a public vote to help the organization share in $150,000 total grants from Tom's of Maine (15 awards of $10,000 each). Voting is simple, just go to http://www.50statesforgood.com/, and follow the instructions. People can vote once per day for one nonprofit finalist during the period from 8 a.m. Alaska time (noon Eastern) on Monday, Sept. 16, through 4 p.m. Alaska time (8 p.m. Eastern) on Tuesday, Oct. 15. A free Facebook account is required for voting, and people who do not already have an account can go to https://www.facebook.com/ to create one.
The 50 States for Good program was created to help uncover local nonprofit groups that address a variety of community needs and engage volunteers to get the work done. This year's finalists offer a diverse range of community services, such as improving access to local foods, working with people who have autism, helping street teens, supporting the needs of low-income residents, providing food and hygiene products to the homeless, building playgrounds, and more.
The Sitka Local Foods Network works on a variety of food-oriented projects in Sitka, a community of 9,000 people on Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska. Even though there is no commercial agriculture on the island, the Sitka Local Foods Network created the Sitka Farmers Market, which sells produce grown at the organization's St. Peter's Fellowship Farm communal garden and from family backyard gardens. The Sitka Local Foods Network also is trying to build the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, which will be a commercial greenhouse providing local produce and bedding plants for residents, and an education center teaching local students about gardening. Education is another focus of the network, which hosts the annual Let's Grow Sitka garden exhibition in March and brings nationally known speakers to town to teach about gardening, seeds and greenhouses.
"We are honored to be chosen to represent Alaska in the 50 States for Good competition," said Lisa Sadleir-Hart, president of the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors. "If we are successful, we hope to further food production in Sitka using a host of strategies, such as creating an additional community garden, offering seed money to the community greenhouse and education center working group, or helping the school district jump start a school-based garden program. An award of $10,000 from Tom's of Maine can really help Sitka make strides in improving its local food system."
The 51 finalists (one from each state plus the District of Columbia) were selected from a pool of about 1,100 nominated nonprofit organizations by an independent panel of judges that included Huffington Post columnist Lisa M. Dietlin, Cool People Care president Sam Davidson, assistant features editor covering social good for Mashable.com Matt Petronzio, and The Vampire Diaries star and nonprofit founder Ian Somerhalder.
"A desire to do more for a favorite can often be hindered by a lack of time to volunteer or the financial means to make a donation," said Susan Dewhirst, goodness programs manager at Tom's of Maine. "The 50 States for Good program makes it easy for anyone to have an impact and directly help organizations that are bringing goodness to communities in a variety of creative and inspiring ways."
For several decades, Tom's of Maine, a natural products company focused on oral and personal care products, has donated 10 percent of its profits back to the community and encourages its employees to use 5 percent (12 days) of their paid time off to volunteer every year. For more information, visit http://www.tomsofmaine.com/ or like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/TomsofMaine. Voting information will be at both links.
To learn more about the Sitka Local Foods Network and some of its community projects, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or like the organization's new Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork.