Saturday, October 21, 2017

Help us end the stigma!

These days as many as half of all households in the United States will rely on assistance from the government at some point, just for basic necessities like food.

For most, it will be a short-term need brought about by a job loss or a health issue.  And yet, we, as a society often stigmatize these folks, who just need a little help to get over some short term challenge in their lives.

Help us end the stigma by sharing your story!  Go here to answer a few questions.  You can do it anonymously.  Let us tell your story!

Friday, October 20, 2017


In 2016, 40.6 million people, or 12.7% of the population, lived in poverty, for example, a family of four that earned less than $24,339. One-third of those living in poverty were children under the age of 18 and 11% were seniors. The remaining 56% were of working age (18 to 64). One quarter of all those living in poverty were in the labor force and an additional 3% were early retirees. An additional 12% of the total were of working-age and disabled. Another 15% of those living in poverty were working-age adults who were students or caregivers. Compared to 30 years ago, a lower percentage of seniors are living in poverty, but because baby boomers are aging the sheer number of poor seniors is greater. Over the past 30 years, a growing number of working-age people were poor (from 15.4 million in 1986 to 21.9 million in 2016). The largest group of working-age adults living in poverty were employees working less than full-time and full-year: 28%.

Source: Brookings Institution, 10/12/17, Poor in America

Thursday, October 19, 2017


A new report takes a food systems approach to recommendations for reducing the double burden of malnutrition—obesity in the presence of widespread hunger and its consequences.  A food system gathers all the elements (environment, people, inputs, processes, infrastructures, institutions, etc.) and activities that relate to the production, processing, distribution, preparation and consumption of food, and the outputs of these activities, including socio-economic and environmental outcomes. The report pays specific attention to nutrition and health outcomes of food systems. First, it emphasizes the role of diets as a key link between food systems and their health and nutrition outcomes. Second, it highlights the central role of the food environment in facilitating healthy and sustainable consumer food choices. Third, it takes into account the impacts of agriculture and food systems on sustainability in its three dimensions (economic, social and environmental).

Source: Food Politics, 10/6/17, Nutrition & Food Systems

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A SNAP Challenge that did not happen

So, I was planning to do the SNAP Challenge the week of September 17.  Instead, as some of you know, I was in the hospital at Upstate that week after having a seizure the Thursday evening before.

The SNAP Challenge, of course, is when  you try to live on the average SNAP budget of $4.60 per day for food for a few days, a week, or longer.  It can be an eye-opening exercise for anyone, including me when I did a few years ago, while I was still at Foodshare in Connecticut.

I do remember working hard to create a menu and a budget that worked for the week I was doing the Challenge.  And I remember how my two sons played into it.  The youngest, DJ, was still at home and partway through the week, he said to me, "I understand why you are doing this, but why do I have to do it?"  Hmm, I guess you're right, DJ, so he went straight for the ice cream that was in the freezer from before I started the Challenge.

I had planned my challenge to be from a Monday to the following Sunday.  Well, on Friday of the week, my older son, Alex, called me from the University of Connecticut to say that he wanted to bring a car full of his college friends to the house for dinner that very evening!  What mom is going to turn down that offer - to see her son and his friends!  So, the challenge went out the window a couple of days early and I cooked up a feast for the boys.

I did realize how lucky I was to have all of these options.  My menu/diet while on the Challenge was significantly different that usual.  Lots of carbs, lots of PB&J, and many less than healthy choices.  How glad I was to have Alex's phone call and get rid of this menu a couple of days early!

So, while I did not end up participating in this year's SNAP Challenge, I hope that I will be able to next year,  And thank you all for your good wishes during and after my recent hospitalization.  While I don't have any clear answers yet, I do have confidence in the team at Upstate and hope to know more soon.



A new documentary from chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain wants to bring the issue of food waste into movie theaters, living rooms—and hopefully kitchens—around the country. “WASTED! The Story of Food Waste,” stars not only Bourdain, but also a whole host of chefs and food leaders, including Dan Barber, Danny Bowien, Mario Batali, Eve Turow Paul, Dr. Judith Rodin and Massimo Bottura. It debuts October 13th in theaters and on-demand from Amazon, iTunes, and Xfinity. The film follows chefs and food advocates around the world as they visit and learn about possible solutions to food waste.

Source: Civil Eats, 10/13/17, Chefs Take on Food Waste

Note:  GardenShare hopes to show this film at a gathering in February during the Canton Winterfest.  Watch more details coming out soon!  And view the trailer here!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


USDA requires school districts to have a policy for collecting school meal fees and on how to handle situations when a student who is not certified to receive free school meals  arrives in the cafeteria without cash in hand or in his or her school meals account. A recent survey of 40 of the 50 largest school districts in the country found:

  • Only 12 of the 40 school districts have a single unpaid meal policy for all students. Most have two policies: one for younger students (generally elementary schools) and one for older students (generally middle and high schools). Policies typically are more generous for elementary school students, allowing them to receive school meals, regardless of their ability to pay, or permitting them to charge additional meals on their school meals accounts.
  • 13 of the 40 districts provide meals to all students for all meals, regardless of whether they can pay; 10 do not provide any meals or grace period to secondary students who cannot pay; 17 districts place a maximum number of meals they will provide to either secondary school students or to all students with debt.

Source: Food Research & Action Council, 9/17, Unpaid School Meals

Monday, October 16, 2017

Defeated by the SNAP Challenge before it even starts

Another take on the SNAP Challenge, where people try to live on the SNAP average budget of $4.60 per person per day for their food...

"My husband and I were planning on trying the SNAP challenge, but were defeated before we started. We consider ourselves very healthy eaters. While healthy isn't always synonymous with expensive, there are certain things in our diet that make it impossible for us to live on ~$4/day each. 

"We start each day with a healthy breakfast smoothie. One ingredient is hemp protein, which costs around $30 for a package. One package lasts us more than a month, but the challenge doesn't allow us to use things that were already purchased. It makes sense, because a low-income family certainly couldn't afford a $30 investment in a food item that doesn't have any flavor if they are trying to stretch their SNAP dollars to last all month. We also add kale, bananas, blueberries, chia seeds, and almond milk in our breakfast smoothies. Those costs are adding up! 

"When I think about the fact that we also eat one Braeburn apple per person per day, I know we are over our $4/day without even dealing with lunch or dinner. Braeburn are my absolute favorite type of apple, but this challenge made me notice they are also the most expensive ones in the store at $4.99/lb! The cost of the diet we are comfortable with and live healthfully on is already so far beyond what a SNAP recipient could afford."

- A dual income, no kids household from Norfolk