The Lost Kitchen and Waldo County Bounty team up to fight hunger

Postcards are being accepted now, with a twist this year.
It's been nearly seven years since Erin French opened the much-loved restaurant in Freedom.
It's been nearly seven years since Erin French opened the much-loved restaurant in Freedom.(WABI)
Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 5:37 PM EDT
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FREEDOM, Maine (WABI) - A grassroots initiative in Waldo County helping to fight hunger has cooked up quite the partnership with a nationally-renowned restaurant.

“I knew that we could do something big. I had no idea really how big,” said Erin French, owner of The Lost Kitchen.

It’s been nearly seven years since French opened the much-loved restaurant in Freedom.

The restaurant is located at The Mill at Freedom Falls.

Each year, hundreds of people from all over the world pay a visit to the restaurant through their reservation lottery system.

Postcards are being accepted now, with a twist this year.

Erin offered folks early access to the lottery system in exchange for a donation to Waldo County Bounty.

Colleen Hanlon-Smith and Lissa Widoff are on the leadership team.

They, alongside a few others, have taken it upon themselves to improve access to locally-grown foods for those experiencing food insecurity in Waldo County.

“Our partnership with The Lost Kitchen has really been a pivotal opportunity to allow us that assurance that we can plan forward now and expand on what we’ve already started,” said Hanlon-Smith.

After Erin made the announcement, the donations started rolling in.

In just 24 hours, more than $100,000 was raised for the grassroots imitative.

That number has now grown to more than $325,000.

“It really was Erin’s idea on how to come together and see is there a way to sort of use the popularity of the restaurant and the interests that exist with the needs that exist in our community,” explained Widoff.

“What an amazing just example of community coming together and then leveraging contacts from all over the country and even the world,” said Hanlon Smith.

The group will use the money to buy produce form local farmers, help gardeners, and support a local gleaning program.

“We hope it’s opened peoples’ eyes at how they can support efforts locally and learn more about locally grown food and how to support hunger relief initiatives in their hometowns as well,” explained Hanlon-Smith.

As for Erin, she’s gearing up to open the restaurant next week to outdoor dining.

She says this show of support from her fans shows just how much they care to keep the restaurant going while helping neighbors in need.

“These are people who are invested,” said French. “They’re writing postcards to try and get reservations. There has to be a lot of heart to even go through that process, so we’re just feeling so thankful for all of fans because we will never be able to meet everyone, but these are people who continue to love The Lost Kitchen, follow us, and they care.”

The Lost Kitchen reservation info can be found here.

Donate to the Waldo County Bounty campaign here.

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