Friday, January 30, 2015

Screening for hunger at the hospital

Families bringing children in for annual checkups at Providence Milwaukie Hospital in Portland, Oregon, are now being asked if they are experiencing food insecurity, part of a new statewide initiative titled “Screen and Intervene.” Families experiencing food insecurity are then scheduled for a meeting with an outreach specialist which can help direct them to assistance. Individual clinics in the state participating in the initiative establish their own protocols for helping struggling families.

When the food runs out – Portland Tribune, January 15, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

State of the Union and hungry children

There were 12.4 million children in food insecure homes in 2008, now there are 15.8 million food insecure children. While the president’s State of the Union proposals – increasing the child tax credit, increasing wages and paid family leave – are excellent, “it is absolutely appalling that he must encourage Congress to show children that they matter,” writes Mariana Chilton, found of Witnesses to Hunger and director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, in this op-ed.

Do America’s Hungry Children Matter? –, January 21, 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Headed back to Connecticut, but just briefly

I'm headed back to Connecticut this evening, but just for a few days.  Foodshare has planned a "going away" party (now that I'm already gone away!).  When we discussed having this event in January, everyone was worried that I might be snowed in, here in the North Country.  If you've followed the weather news these last few days, instead, it was Connecticut and other parts of New England that got hit with a blizzard!

But no big deal for us hardy North Country stock and so I will be there even if few others make it.

See you back at the GardenShare office on Monday.


What a beautiful idea!


Customers at Philadelphia’s Rosa's Pizza, where a slice is just $1, can choose to buy a slice for a homeless person for just another buck. And 8,400 people have done just that in the past 9 months. They're then able to write a heartfelt message on a sticky note and add it to the wall, where those in need who've benefited from the pay it forward pizza have also written responses of gratitude. 

Source: Huffington Post, 1/15/22, Pizza Plus

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Governor's budget proposes cuts to key North Country ag programs

From the Watertown Daily Times:
"Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposed executive budget calls for a big reduction in funding for key agriculture programs important to the north country. But agriculture advocates say they’re hopeful legislators will lead efforts to restore funding.
"At first blush, the governor’s 2015-16 budget for programs administered by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets looks bleak compared with this fiscal year. The New York State Farm Viability Institute, which funds critical research to develop commodity crops across the state, would have its funding cut by $1.1 million, from $1.5 million to $400,000. And the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, which received $600,000 this year, would go unfunded altogether. That program serves six counties in the north country."
Read the complete story here.


For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data. In 40 of the 50 states, low-income students (defined as those eligible for free or reduced-price lunches) comprised no less than 40% of all public schoolchildren. In 21 states, such children were a majority of students in 2013. Most of the states with a majority of low-income students are in the South and the West. Mississippi had the highest rate of low-income students—71%. Connecticut, with 36% of students eligible for free or reduced price meals, was among the states, mostly in the Northeast, that were well below the national average.

Source: Southern Education Foundation, 1/16/15, Low-Income Students

And we know that kids from low-income families are likely hungry, affecting their health and their ability to do well in school!


Monday, January 26, 2015

Agrituourism conference coming up in Vermont

Join farmers, educators, and service providers in Rutland, Vermont for a two-day exploration of open farms. This conference uses a peer-to-peer educational model with a variety of workshops offered on April 8th. Do you have something to say? Share your story, your strategy, your ideas!

More information at

Registration info coming soon. Participants can register for individual parts of the gathering, including farm tours on April 7 and workshops on April 8. 

Sponsored by USDA Rural Development and the Rutland Regional Planning Commission with additional support from Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL), University of Vermont Extension, Farm-Based Education Network, Vermont Farms! Association, the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. 

This conference aligns with Vermont’s Farm to Plate goals to increase food literacy, farm profitability, and local food availability as well as more opportunities for farms to engage in technical assistance opportunities.

A million kids eat dinner at school, too!

Los Angeles, the nation's second largest school district, is doubling the number of students served dinner, with an eye toward eventually offering it at every school. It's a growing trend: Nationwide, the number of students served dinner or an after-school snack soared to nearly 1 million last year. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia began offering students dinner as part of a pilot program expanded to all states after the 2010 passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. USDA reimburses schools where at least half the students are low-income and qualify for free or reduced-price lunch for each supper at a rate often significantly higher than the cost of the meal. In the 2014 fiscal year, 104 million suppers were served to students, up from about 19 million in 2009. Participation is still lower than in the breakfast and lunch programs, which serve more than 12 million and 31 million students, respectively.

Source: Yahoo News, 1/15/15, School Suppers

Who can tell me what schools in St. Lawrence County have supper programs?


Friday, January 23, 2015

Farmstands now included in federal nutrition programs

The WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides families receiving WIC benefits with special checks each summer that they can use to purchase locally-grown fruits and vegetables at Farmers Markets.  In addition, the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program does the same for eligible low-income seniors.

The good news - these programs are being expanded to include farmstands!  Any farmer with a stand who is interested in being able to accept these checks does need to apply by completing all of the below documents (3 total application packages: the FMNP market application; the FMNP farmer application; and the WIC-VF application and agreement). 

The following links will provide the necessary documents:


WIC-VF Farmer Application Package:
             - WIC-VF Agreement:

FMNP Farmer Application Materials:

- FMC-6:
            - Crop Plan:            
            - FMNP Farmer Rules and Procedures:             

FMNP Market Application:  


Drought, disease, and demand forced beef and pork prices to rise in 2014, and the increase is likely to continue in 2015. As of November 2014, pork prices were up roughly 10% from last year, according to the USDA. The agency says it expects an additional increase of about 5% in 2015. Even eggs are more expensive: After a 7 to 8% increase in 2014, the price of eggs will tick up another percentage point or two this year. And beef is in a class by itself: USDA predicts beef and veal prices will end up with an 11 to 12% increase for 2014 and will rise by another 5% in 2015. “The two things low-income people struggle with the most are getting fresh fruits and vegetables and getting protein, so when those items go up in price, that’s a particularly problematic event,” said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center.”

Source: NBC News, 1/1/15, Meat Prices

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Webinar regarding Child and Adult Care Food Program next week

New Proposed Healthier CACFP Meal Standards: What You Need to Know
Thursday, January 29, 2015
1:30 pm eastern
Register here for the webinar.

USDA's proposed new healthier meal pattern for the Child and Adult Care Food Program and related programs has been released. Join the Food Research and Action Center and USDA for a webinar on the proposed rule.

Learn what you need to know about USDA's recently proposed rule, "Child and Adult Care Food Program: Meal Pattern Revisions Related to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010," including the revised meal patterns and nutrition standards for:

  • The Child and Adult Care Food Program in Head Start, child care centers, family child care homes, afterschool programs, emergency shelters and adult day care; and
  • School meal programs in school-based PreK and afterschool programs.
  • Kevin Concannon, Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, USDA
  • Jim Weill and Geri Henchy, Food Research and Action Center
  • Laura Carroll, Child Nutrition Division, USDA

A certificate of attendance will be issued.


When I was in high school in Gouverneur, I volunteered with the Head Start program during summer vacation.  I loved working with the young children and new it made a difference.  So I was glad to see that this new research says it makes a difference not only with their education, but also with their  diets and health!


Head Start programs have been shown to help poor children do better in school, but they may also help them fight obesity, a new study suggests. During a year of Head Start preschool, obese and overweight children were much more likely to slim down than comparison groups of kids. The study involved almost 44,000 children, including about 19,000 Head Start kids who were compared with children from Medicaid families and with those from wealthier, privately insured families. About 16% of kids entering Head Start were obese, versus 12% of Medicaid kids and 7% of the others. After a year, almost 11% of initially obese Head Start kids became normal weight, compared with none of the Medicaid kids and less than 2% of the others. The improvements lasted through the end of the study, or when the kids entered kindergarten. Similar trends were seen in kids who started out overweight but not obese.

Source:  Huffington Post, 1/12/15, Head Start

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Growing Community Award presented to the Martin family

GardenShare presented the 2014 Growing Community Award to the Daniel and Mendy Martin family on Saturday, January 17. Daniel and Mendy own Martin's Needham Road Market on US Highway 11B outside of Potsdam.
GardenShare Executive Director Gloria McAdam (left) and President of the
Board of Directors, Carol Pynchon (right) present the award to the Martin's.
“They have been an influential part of the local food movement since 1998 when they started a U-pick strawberry operation at Southville Corners,” GardenShare Board of Directors President Carol Pynchon said.
A crowd fills the TAUNY center for
the award ceremony
The farm stand has grown exponentially since then; with other small farmers they produced and sold between 60 and 70 tons of food in 2012.  The Needham Road Market offers high quality vegetables at the stand and through an innovative on-line market. They are one of the first farm stands to accept payment through SNAP benefits and they have a small-scale wholesale operation that provides produce to local retail outlets.
“The Martin family consistently supports organizations that work toward food security in the North Country by donating produce to community meals, food pantries, and neighborhood centers, and they often welcome gleaners in their fields,” Pynchon said.
The GardenShare board and staff  thank  the local farms and retail organizations who made this event possible: Dan and Meghan Kent of Kent Family Growers, Dave and Kathy Rice from Sweet Core Farm, and Mike Corse of Deep Root Farm donated the vegetables and dried beans for the chili;ature's Storehouse  contributed the cornbread ingredients; and the Potsdam food Co-op provided the tomatoes, spices and dairy products.  Cindy Murdie from  Cindy’s  Cake Shop donated the beautiful cake.  We are so fortunate to live in a community that supports and honors  our work.

Thank you to the Methodist Church for allowing us to use their certified kitchen to produce the chili and corn bread.  Thank you to Jill Breit and the TAUNY Center staff for the use of their warm and welcoming space.  It was the ideal venue for this celebration of community spirit and connections.

The Martin Family join the following past recipients of this award:
  • Jenny and Brian Walker - 2013
  • Carlton Doane, Free Will Meals - 2012
  • Katherine Lang - 2011
  • U Share, Unitarian Universalist Church - 2010
  • Julie Holbrook, Keene Central School - 2009
  • Cindy Harnas, South Jefferson Central School - 2009
  • North Country Public Radio - 2008
  • Food Bank of Central New York - 2007
  • Betsey Hodge - 2006
  • North Country Grown Cooperative - 2006
  • Seedcorn - 2005
  • Canton Farmers Market - 2004
  • PACES - 2003
Learn more about the Martin's and the award here


The number of children participating in the National School Lunch Program is changing. A new analysis by the Food Research and Action Center shows that lower family incomes and improvements to the eligibility process for school meals have led to a continuous increase in participation among low-income children; and rules on pricing of meals for other children have contributed to a multi-year decline in participation for those with higher family incomes. As the recession reduced many families’ incomes, the number of free and reduced-priced participants increased, and the number of paid participants dropped. As a result of eligibility process improvements, like more efficient and accurate cross-certification with other means-tested programs such as SNAP, more families were determined eligible for free or reduced-price school meals. And, the Community Eligibility Provision, allowed high-poverty schools to reduce paperwork and offer free breakfast and lunch to all children. Higher prices for school meals pushed in the other direction. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 required most school districts to increase “paid lunch” charges to students not eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Source: Food Research and Action Center, 1/14/15, School Lunch Shifts

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Join us for a movie night in three weeks!

Malone food pantry update

It was good to hear the the food pantry in Malone and it's landlord are working toward a resolution of the rent issue that had threatened to close the pantry.  Story on NCPR


When I watched the first "Hunger Games" movie, it was with an overwhelming sadness.  For all I could think was, "this is exactly where America is headed!"  So it was interesting to see this analysis in US News and World Report recently.


To date, the “Hunger Games” movies have grossed over $400 million in the US alone. Scene after scene of the fictional country the movie is set in reveals a poverty-ravaged nation filled with destitute children and families. That country, Panem, is based on a future version of America. Although "Hunger Games" is a heavily dramatized fiction, the film underscores several things that are also true of the state of poverty in America:

·  Working parents don’t make enough to feed their kids. 62% ff families with children receiving SNAP benefits were employed, but only 18% of all recipients had incomes above the poverty line.
·  Political rhetoric in both Panem and the US blames the poor. Panem’s dictator, President Coriolanus Snow, emphasizes that the poor districts have brought all of the war and destruction upon themselves. In America, unsubstantiated claims still remain that the values and behaviors of poor people are responsible for their situation.  But in reality poor people do not spend their welfare money on drugs and alcohol, and SNAP fraud, or exchanging food stamps for money, is just 1%.
·  Children have no voice, yet suffer the most. In the "Hunger Games", children are chosen randomly from each district to fight to the death. As in Panem, US children our poorest citizens. While the adult poverty rate is 13%, the child poverty rate is 22%. Yet policies aimed at children, such as food stamps and Medicaid, often come under fire because of the idea that they are handouts to parents that disincentivize work.

Source: US News & World Report, 12/3/14, Hunger Games

Monday, January 19, 2015


Nearly 1 million people will lose SNAP benefits in 2016 as fewer states qualify for a waiver from the law that limits a childless adult’s benefits to 3 months if he or she isn’t working at least part-time or enrolled in a job training program for at least 20 hours a week. Most of those affected are men (60%). Over 4 out of 5 (82%) earn less than 50% of the federal poverty level ($5,835 a year), and nearly one-third are over 40 years old.

Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 1/13/15, SNAP Cuts

Friday, January 16, 2015

Hope to see you tomorrow!

Come warm up with GardenShare at our
Growing Community Social

Saturday, January 17, 2015
2 to 4 p.m.
The TAUNY Center

Enjoy chili and cornbread, meet GardenShare's new executive
director, and join GardenShare board, staff, and friends in 
congratulating 2014 Growing Community Award recipients 
Daniel and Mendy Martin and family.
Each year GardenShare presents the Growing Community Award 
to an individual or organization whose efforts strengthen food 
security in northern New York State. 

The Martins, who own and operate a farm market on Route 11B outside of Potsdam, have been an influential part of the 
local food movement since 1998 when they started a U-pick strawberry operation. Today their farm stand offers quality 
vegetables grown by the Martins and other local farmers. 

Learn more about the Martins here.

The Growing Community Social is free and all are welcome. We hope you'll join us - and bring your friends!

And check out our advance news coverage of the event here!


SNAP is one of the few means-tested government benefit programs available to almost all households with low incomes. After unemployment insurance, SNAP historically has been the most responsive federal program in assisting families and communities during economic downturns. SNAP participation rises during economic downturns by an average of 2 to 3 million people for each percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate. The number of individuals receiving SNAP in an average month grew from 26.3 million in 2007 to over 46 million in 2014.  SNAP benefits are modest; they average less than $1.40 per person per meal.  Starting in November 2013, after the 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary benefit increase expired, the average SNAP household received about $255 a month in benefits for the rest of fiscal year 2014. SNAP Households spend over 85% of their benefits on fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, and meat alternatives. 

Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 1/8/15, SNAP Update

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Help wanted: Cornell hiring beginning farmer project coordinator

The Cornell Small Farms Program and Northeast Beginning Farmers Project are hiring a full-time Project Coordinator for two new beginning farmer initiatives.

Job Description 
Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator  
Extension Support Specialist I (Band E/Exempt/39 hours week)
Department of Horticulture
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Ithaca, NY

The Cornell Small Farm Program (SFP) engages in research and extension projects and collaborations that support and enhance the viability of small farms in New York. This Coordinator will support the Northeast Beginning Farmer (NEBF) Project, a major SFP effort focused on beginning farmer training, their support networks, and informational resources. 

The department is currently searching for a Project Coordinator who will oversee all aspects of a USDA project designed to 1) facilitate military veterans entering into farming as a career, and 2) improve long-term viability of "advanced" beginning farmers (defined as farmers operating 3-10 years).  Facilitate the development and implementation of project work plans by collaborators for each component of the project, coordinate timelines, manage relationships, and synthesize evaluation data into reports.  Lead the outreach for the overall project, publicizing events and impacts of the project and collaborating with the SFP outreach staff to achieve these goals. Convene advisory groups for all aspects of the work.

The Project Coordinator will also implement specific projects to provide training for beginning farmer service providers and collaborate with other organizations and individuals to develop new informational resources for beginning farmers. Work closely with the SFP Beginning Farmer Project Manager and the SFP Director to insure participation and engagement of partners and stakeholders and share outcomes with other organizations nationally.

The coordinator will work very independently, making decisions to foster the success of the project and to achieve the desired outcomes. These decisions will often require creativity as well as a good understanding of the abilities and resources of project collaborators. Develop and implement surveys that will target farmers, educators and others interested in supporting beginning farmers, and help the collaborators use this information to modify work plans and tasks. Monthly travel and overnight trips to visit with project collaborators around NY state are expected.

The Project Coordinator will be a full member of the SFP staff and is expected to develop close working relationships with all of the other SFP Associates, participating in staff meetings and other SFP events.  Will also represent the Project and Program at state meetings and provide presentations to farmers and other stakeholders about the SFP efforts. Contributions to the monthly SFP e-newsletter and quarterly magazine expected. Responsible for supervising 1-2 undergraduate students and supporting project collaborators.

This position is renewable annually, based upon performance and funding.  The position is currently supported by  a 3-year USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) grant.

        Bachelor's degree in agriculture, communication, education, biology, natural resources, or related field preferred.
        Two-three years' experience in public education, either formal or informal, as well as demonstrated understanding of farming.
        Proven skills in project management and coordination are essential
        Must be able to work with diverse audiences and partners, both independently and as part of a team
        Excellent communication skills, including writing and public speaking.
        Good working knowledge and experience with current software, such as MS Office, Qualtrics, PowerPoint.
        Must be personable, flexible and possess excellent organizational skills.
        Excellent customer service skills and demonstrated ability to communicate with a broad range of people is essential. 
        Must have the ability to multi-task and prioritize.
        Ability to work well and establish effective working relationships with a wide variety of faculty, staff, and students while creating a high-quality and respectful work environment. 
        Must be comfortable working in an environment where change in process is the norm. 
        Must have and maintain a valid NYS Driver's License and be willing to travel with occasional overnight trips being required.

        Master's degree in agriculture, education, communications, natural resources, or related field preferred.  
        Minimum of 3 years of direct farm experience and/or experience providing services to beginning farmers strongly preferred.
        Enthusiasm for supporting entry into farming as a career is a plus

Background check may be required. No relocation assistance is provided for this position. Visa sponsorship is not available for this position.

Will the new Congress roll back food policy?

In the past few years, the federal government became more involved in what Americans eat, from requiring schools to serve fruit at lunch to eliminating transfats in doughnuts. But the new Republican Congress is already laying the groundwork to push back in 2015. The $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill Congress passed in December allows states more flexibility to exempt schools from USDA’s whole-grain standards if they can show hardship and to halt future sodium restrictions.  New House and Senate leaders of the committees responsible for reauthorizing School Nutrition programs have been openly critical of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, the bipartisan law that included many reforms that are now sparking complaints among schools and Republicans who argue the rules are too prescriptive and costly. The School Nutrition Association, which lobbied aggressively to scale back the new regulations, is asking to drop a mandate that kids take a half-cup serving of fruits or vegetables,

Source: Politico, 12/30/14, Food Fight

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Food Policy Council webinar coming up in February

Food Policy and Regional Food Systems: Opportunities for Networking across Jurisdictions

Wednesday, February 11, 2015
1:00 - 2:15 PM EST
Join Us for This Webinar:

Where does your local food policy council fit within the regional food system? Would you like to play a stronger role in both your locality and at a regional level but not sure how? Functioning with limited resources and volunteer members, it can often be easiest for a food policy council to concentrate locally. By understanding the role of local food policy councils within the context of a regional food system, groups can network across geographies to maximize impact and effectiveness of policy changes.

During this webinar, expert panelists will address a number of big picture questions local food policy councils have about regional food systems, including:
  • The role of local food policy councils within a regional network
  • When is it beneficial to connect across a region
  • How to determine your "region" and what to do when definitions vary
  • Best practices and challenges to organizing and building regional networks, including resources and infrastructure needed
These issues will be addressed to show participants how networking across jurisdictions can positively influence food system change. The webinar will also include time for participant Q&A.

Food policy council coordinators and members, policy-makers, members of the local and regional food system and food system advocates

This event is sponsored by the Institute for Public Health Innovation and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future



Last month, a Washington Post op-ed piece argued that food production, distribution, and consumption represent the largest sector of the U.S. economy, yet come under no national plan or single official. “Government policy in these areas is made piecemeal,” the authors wrote. “Diet-related chronic disease, food safety, marketing to children, labor conditions, wages for farm and food-chain workers, immigration, water and air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and support for farmers: These issues are all connected to the food system. Yet they are overseen by eight federal agencies. Amid this incoherence, special interests thrive and the public good suffers.” The op-ed’s authors called on President Obama to state a national policy that balances public health values against agricultural interests—paying attention to food safety, price transparency, worker protections, children’s health, animal welfare and climate resiliency—and create a White House council to ensure federal agencies are not working at cross-purposes. Some, though, would argue that what’s needed isn’t just a national food policy to articulate change, but a national food agency to make it happen.

Source: National Geographic, 12/12/14, Food Policy

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Building Stronger Summer and Afterschool Meal Programs conference call next week

Building Stronger Summer and Afterschool Meal Programs
January 20, 2015 – 12:00 noon eastern
Register here...

This month the Food Research and Action Center is combining the Summer and Afterschool Meals Matter conference call series into one informative call about Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC), a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, and how cities, towns and counties participating in this initiative are making efforts to serve children healthy meals year-round through the Summer and Afterschool Meal Program. LMCTC sets out to address the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic through five measurable and achievable goals. Goal III: Smart Servings for Students encourages cities to offer the Summer and Afterschool Meal Programs in their communities. Join FRAC and the National League of Cities (NLC) to learn about LMCTC and how elected officials are addressing child hunger and nutrition issues through the Summer and Afterschool Meal Program.


Late in 2013 Congress cut benefits for the 47 million Americans who receive SNAP assistance. One year later, a report by Food Bank for New York City finds New Yorkers have lost more than 56 million meals as a result of these cuts. That’s more meals lost in the city alone than a typical food bank distributes in a year. Approximately 75% of the 800 or so emergency food providers in Food Bank For New York City’s network saw an immediate increase in the number of visitors on their lines. One year later, food pantries and soup kitchens are reporting food shortages at an alarming rate. This past September alone, 60% of food pantries and soup kitchens reported running out of food for complete pantry bags or soup kitchen meals. Thirty-seven percent reported having to turn people away and 61% reported reducing the amount of food in their pantry bags because of food shortages.

Source: MSNBC, 12/31/14, 2014 SNAP Cuts

Monday, January 12, 2015

Setting a vision...and a plan!

The GardenShare Board of Directors met for four hours Friday evening and another four hours on Saturday morning for our annual planning retreat.

What an amazing group of volunteers, to dedicate this big a chunk of time to this work!  And I heard such great things from them about their passion for the work and their willingness to work hard to further GardenShare's mission.

We got a lot done, which will help us lay out a realistic work plan for the year ahead.

One of our big goals is to engage more people in our work.  We are looking for people who are both passionate about the local food movement and passionate about ending hunger.  GardenShare's work sits right at the intersection of those two issues.

If you might be interesting in volunteering with GardenShare to help us spread the message of our work, feel free to e-mail me and I can tell you more!



The fruits and vegetables provided at school deliver an important dietary boost to low-income adolescents, according to a recent study. Researchers from Dartmouth found that fruit and vegetable intake was higher among low-income adolescents on days when they ate meals at school compared to days when they were not in school. The opposite was true for high-income adolescents who consumed fewer fruits and vegetables when school was in session, compared to summer months. While in school, all students consumed fruits and vegetables with similar frequency regardless of income level.

Source: Science Daily, 12/11/14, School Food

Friday, January 9, 2015


Roughly 1 million of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP during 2016, as many states will see the return of a 3-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults aged 18-50 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children.  The 3-month limit was enacted as part of the 1996 welfare reform law; it applies to childless people who aren’t employed or in a work or training program for at least 20 hours a week—even if their state operates few or no employment programs and fails to offer them a spot in a work or training program — which is the case in most states. The limit hasn’t been in effect in most states for the past few years as the law allows states to waive the limit in areas with high and sustained unemployment.  But as the recession recedes and unemployment rates fall, fewer and fewer areas will qualify for waivers.  Just a few states will qualify for statewide waivers in 2016, resulting in approximately 1 million SNAP recipients losing their benefits to the time limit. 

Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 1/5/15, 2016 SNAP Cuts


Researchers were surprised to find that more than half of the adults 65 and older who turned up in one emergency room were either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition. They found that 22 of the 138 adults examined (16%) were malnourished, and 17 of the 22 had never before received a diagnosis of malnutrition, even though almost everyone in the study had a primary care physician. Overall, 83 of the adults studied (60%) qualified as either malnourished or at risk for malnutrition.  How could that happen? Depression was a big factor: 52% of the adults found to be malnourished had symptoms of depression. But 33% reported difficulty simply buying groceries, a problem that probably could be alleviated by greater access to food stamps and food charities,
Difficulty eating, usually because of tooth pain or denture problems, was found in 38% of the malnourished.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, 12/10/14, Malnourished Seniors

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Farm to School webinars

The National Farm to School Network has some great webinars coming up...

January 15, 4 p.m. EST - Hosted by edWeb
Along with abundant opportunities for learning and fun, outdoor classrooms come with a unique set of challenges, particularly in relation to classroom management. How do I focus students' attention on the lesson when the squirrels are dropping walnuts from the tree? How do I convince 30 students that the garden is a learning environment and not a space for extra recess time? Whitney Cohen, Life Lab’s Education Director, will use stories, photos and discussion to share tried-and-true tips for managing large groups of students in an outdoor environment.

February 10, 1 p.m. EST
Your school garden is growing, your lunch line is local, and your community's health and economy are improving thanks to farm to school. But if you don't learn how to tell your story in a concise, compelling way, interest in your program could stagnate. Maintain momentum for farm to school within your community through media relations, funder outreach and community partners with persuasive success stories. The National Farm to School Network's communications staff, Chelsey Simpson and Stacey Malstrom, will offer simple best-practices and easy tips for sharing your story and finding your audience. The 20-minute presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.

March 10, 1 p.m. EST

Although the Child Nutrition Act (known as CNR) isn't set to expire until September 30, the action in D.C. is happening now, and we need your help. Join us to learn how farm to school legislation is progressing as part of CNR and what you can do to help make sure farm to school gets the support it needs from Congress! We will cover actions that anyone can take to join the effort and become an effective advocate for farm to school. The 20-minute presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.


A number of studies have shown that creating incentives for SNAP recipients to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables increases their consumption of healthy foods significantly. The Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) in Massachusetts offered SNAP recipients a 30-cent reimbursement for every dollar spent on targeted fruits and vegetables, and resulted in a 25% increase in fruit and vegetable consumption over the control group. The pilot also increased healthy food consumption regardless of whether or not the participants lived in a food desert – SNAP recipients made an effort to find stores, even those further away, that offered fresh fruits and vegetables. These healthy foods help manage weight and reduce obesity and other diseases, which could lead to savings in Medicaid and Medicare. In 2012, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future stated, “improving [the] diets of low-income Americans through SNAP pricing incentives [is] a public health priority. USDA recently launched a grant program, funded through the Farm Bill, and Wholesome Waves’ double-value coupon program for SNAP recipients expanded to 21 states, serving more than 40,000 families.

Source: Huffington Post, 12/10/14, SNAP Healthy Foods

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New webinar on creating food projects with existing infrastructure

Talk Is Cheap … and Efficient:
Facilitating value chain development without costly new infrastructure
Thurs Jan 22
3:30p Eastern, 12:30p Pacific
Register now! FREE! ---->
Let's face it: food hubs are sexy! So are other Good Food infrastructure
projects, such as region-scaled meat processing plants.
And for good reason: these businesses are often filling gaps or bottlenecks in
regional and local food systems.
However, sometimes it's not a LACK of infrastructure that leads to
bottlenecks; it is incomplete or inefficient USE of the infrastructure that
stymies the system.
"Value Chain Coordinators" are people who work to connect the dots in a value
chain. They ensure the right people, goods and resources connect with each
other. Most often value chain coordinators work outside day-to-day business
operations, a vantage point that offers a unique perspective on the optimal
solutions in a regional market.
Join us for this expanded webinar diving deep into the approaches people
across the country are taking to improve the food system without costly new
Ann Karlen, Fair Food; Todd Erling, Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development
Corp.; Steve Warshawer, La Montanita Coop; Lauren Gwin, Niche Meat Processors
Assistance Network; Debra Tropp, USDA
Moderator: Jim Barham, USDA
Register now! ---


When families participating in SNAP receive even modest increases in earnings, their benefits get reduced disproportionately. When benefits are reduced too quickly, the resulting net loss in the family’s budget is like falling off a cliff. And, like falling off a real cliff, it hurts. In a recent report on Philadelphia families receiving SNAP, Children’s Health Watch found that compared to families with young children that consistently received SNAP:

·    Families with young children whose SNAP benefit had been reduced were 34% more likely to be food insecure; 32% more likely to be marginally food secure; and 56% more likely to forgo seeking medical care, prescriptions, or oral health care because of an inability to afford care for a family member
·    Young children in families that lost SNAP benefits were 186% more likely to have fair or poor oral health and their families were 101% more likely to forgo seeking medical care, prescriptions, or oral health care for their young child because of inability to pay and 61% more likely to forgo medical care, prescriptions, or oral health care for household members other than the young child because of inability to pay.

Source: Children’s Health Watch, 12/12/14, SNAP Cliff

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

North Country Junior Iron Chef competition

Farm to School Webinars coming up

USDA’s 2015 Farm to School webinar series is scheduled, and available for viewing: While originally designed for USDA grantees, these trainings are open to the public this year. Please feel free to join any of the sessions that might be of interest to you, and also feel free to share this series with your networks.
  1. Farm to School Planning and Building a Team, January 15, 2:00 pm 
  2. Setting Goals and Establishing an Evaluation Baseline, January 28, 2:00 pm
  3. Finding and Buying Local Foods, February 5, 2:00 pm
  4. Farm to School Menu Planning, February 19, 2:00 pm
  5. Food Safety, March 5, 2:00 pm
  6. Promoting Your Farm to School Program, March 19, 2:00 pm
  7. School Gardening, April 2, 2:00 pm
  8. Curriculum Integration, April 16, 2:00 pm
  9. Program Sustainability, April 30, 2:00 pm
  10. Evaluating Your Program, May 13, 2:00 pm
  11. Tying it All Together and Digging In, May 28, 2:00 pm