Friday, February 27, 2015


The House Agriculture Committee this week began a full-scale review of SNAP.  Committee Chairperson Michael Conaway hinted that he thinks changes may be needed.  He began the hearing by stating, "SNAP has grown from a relatively small pilot program to the second largest federal welfare program, quadrupling in spending since 2001…. The program itself has largely not changed in the last 30 years, despite significant changes in the nation's economy and the socioeconomic makeup of the American population. While the economy has changed and other welfare programs have adjusted to meet changing needs, it does not appear that SNAP has.”

In response, Robert Greenstein, president of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said that SNAP has played the central role in eliminating severe hunger and malnutrition in this country. He pointed out that SNAP’s benefits are relatively modest, averaging about $1.40 per person per meal. Benefits are also highly targeted by need.  92% of SNAP benefits go to households with monthly incomes below the poverty line, 57% to families below half the poverty line. And, while SNAP participation and costs have grown in recent years most analysts have found the biggest reason by far is the economy followed by an increase in the share of eligible families — especially low-income working families — who participate. In 2002, only 43% of eligible low-income working families participated.  In 2012, 72% did.

Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/25/15, SNAP Review

TED event on food next week

On Saturday, March 7, 2015, the 5th annual TEDxManhattan, “Changing the Way We Eat” will take place in New York City. TEDxManhattan aims to raise awareness and educate others about problems with our food system. 
The goal is not only to educate ourselves but also to educate others. We truly believe that knowledge is power! This year’s event boasts a diverse array of speakers who are working to help shape the sustainable food movement, including:

  • Joel Berg, NYC Coalition Against Hunger
  • Dr. Robert Graham, Lenox Hill Hospital
  • Henry Hargreaves, photographer
  • Kendra Kimbirauskas, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project/Goat Mountain Pastured Meats
  • Nikiko Masumoto, Masumoto Family Farm
  • Michele Merkel, Food & Water Watch
  • Danny Meyer, Union Square Hospitality Group
  • Danielle Nierenberg, Food Tank
  • Ali Partovi, Silicon Valley Investor
  • Stefanie Sacks, “Stirring the Pot”
  • Anim Steel, Real Food Challenge
  • Marcel Van Ooyen, GrowNYC
  • Ietef “DJ Cavem” Vita, International recording artist

We will be webcasting this year’s conference live from New York City (approximately 10:30 AM - 6 PM EST) to provide access to viewers across our globe. We are encouraging individuals, groups, and organizations to host viewing parties of the event in their local community to initiate a conversation about the problems in our local, regional and national food system.

TEDxManhattan viewing parties must be free of charge to an audience of up to 100 people, show the webcast free of any advertising or promotion for sponsors, and follow TED’s guidelines regarding commercial and non-commercial venues. Though the conference is best viewed in its entirety, viewing parties in different time zones and hosts facing other scheduling issues may show just one or two sessions and still register as an official viewing party for TEDxManhattan. Visit our website to find out more about putting on a TEDxManhattan viewing party.

If you're interested in hosting a viewing party, please fill out the registration form so we can get you all the materials you need and connect you with others on our map who are hosting parties and working to change the food system!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sign up for a CSA share this weekend!

February 28 is the most common day to sign up for a CSA share - have you signed up yet?
Find a list of St. Lawrence County farmers here.
Not familiar with CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture?  CSA has become an important model to support local agriculture since it was introduced to the United States in the 1980s and since grown to over 6,000 farms across the country. To join a CSA, members buy a share of the harvest in the Winter and Spring and then get a box of local produce each week throughout the growing season.
Read an article  about CSA's in The Journal.

Funding for school gardens

Thinking about starting a school garden for next year?

Have a look at PLT’s GreenWorks! Guidebook which offers practical ideas and pointers for getting a GreenWorks! project off and running. You can also, check out PLT’s Branch newsletter for some examples of past PLT GreenWorks! projects and teacher tips, and our news releases that announce some of the grants awarded over the past several years.

Share our GreenWorks! grants promotional flyer with your colleagues and friends!

Questions?  Check out the Frequently Asked Questions

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Opinion piece on SNAP

President Obama must show resolve in defending the SNAP Program, currently “under siege” despite the fact that more than 46.5 million Americans receive benefits, a number that has not changed much since 2013’s record participation numbers, writes Mark Bittman in this op-ed. Although the economy has been recovering, the corporate elite have become richer while income for most Americans stagnated or declined. “While raising the minimum wage and addressing income inequality are huge issues, protecting existing programs for the less well-off is the most important battle right now,” notes Bittman.

Let’s Address the State of Food – The New York Times, January 19, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Share your thoughts with GardenShare

With new leadership at GardenShare, we are looking for your feedback.  Why are you interested?  Why do you support GardenShare?  What would you like to know more about?

The survey is brief - will take less than five minutes.

Go here to share your thoughts.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Let Congress know what SNAP means

#FillUpYourPlate to Tell Rep. McGovern What SNAP Means to You

This Wednesday, Feb. 25, the House Agriculture Committee will hold its first hearing on SNAP. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) is calling on anti-hunger advocates from across the country "to share what SNAP means to you." Please join us in participating in FillUpYourPlate and help protect SNAP.

"As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, and a strong supporter of the SNAP program, I will fight any proposed changes that make it more difficult for the hungry in America to get the food they need. We cannot balance the budget on the backs of poor people."    -Rep. Jim McGovern

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Just Food Conference 2015

Sun, March 15, 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM          
Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY, United States  

About the Just Food Conference

This annual event will attract over 700 organizers, community leaders, CSA members, local food advocates, urban and rural farmers, food professionals, entrepreneurs, and members of the press to participate in a full day of trainings, panels, policy discussions, and good food. This year’s Just Food Conference will be held Sunday, March 15, 2015, in partnership with the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University. The weekend will kick-off with a Pre-Conference Networking Reception the evening of Friday, March 13th, hosted by the Durst Organization.

Conference programming will cover over 40 different topics including farm and food policy issues, approaches to urban agriculture, culinary and food preservation techniques, and community-driven efforts to advance food justice throughout New York City. Eric Holt-Giménez, Executive Director of Food First, will be delivering this year's keynote speech. 

To register:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2015 Priorities Survey

In preparation for this year's reauthorization of federal child nutrition programs (school meals, summer meals, snacks, suppers and WIC), Children's HealthWatch as part of a regional anti-hunger coalition, the Northeast Regional Anti-Hunger Network (NERAHN), is conducting a brief survey to better understand our partners' focus areas for the reauthorization of the federal child nutrition programs. 

This survey looks at three aspects of Child Nutrition Reauthorization: access, funding, and administration, and asks participants to prioritize changes to programs that help increase their impact on children.

Please complete this survey and help distribute to your networks.

Who: Any organization or individual who works with or cares about children and their access to nutritious meals.

When: ASAP: Friday, February 20th.

Thank you for your time and help!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

More low-income children starting the day with school breakfast

School breakfast continues to make significant gains in communities across the U.S., according to two new analyses by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released today, which look at school breakfast participation at the district, state, and national level. During the 2013-2014 school year, an average of 11.2 million low-income children ate a healthy morning meal each day at school, an increase of 320,000 children from the previous school year, according to FRAC’s School Breakfast Scorecard (pdf) on state trends and School Breakfast — Making it Work in Large Districts (pdf).

To learn more about school breakfast participation in New York State and see local county date, go to Hunger Solutions NY.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Save the date - Food from the Farm tasting event

The public is invited to meet Northern New York farmers, food processors, wine and cider makers, and chefs with a diverse array of products at the 5th annual Food from the Farm event on Saturday, March 7 from 2:00pm to 5:00pm at the Plattsburgh Recreation Center gymnasium on the US Oval in Plattsburgh, NY.

Visitors will have the opportunity to sample and buy locally-grown or produced foods, wine and cider; pick up recipes and gardening tips; meet local food producers, and support the local economy and food movement. Products for sale may include overwintered storage crops such as carrots, beets and potatoes; winter greens, frozen meat, maple, honey, wine, and hard cider.
More information here.

Friday, February 13, 2015

1 in 5 children now rely on SNAP

According to the U.S. Census survey of American families released at the end of January 2015, 16 million children relied on the SNAP Program in 2014, a huge spike from pre-recession levels when eight to nine million children received assistance. This increase signals that while the economy has been recovering, low-income families continue to struggle.

Source:  One in five U.S. children now rely on food stamps: Census data – Reuters, January 28, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why are pediatricians talking about tax policy?

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable tax credit that subsidizes low-wage workers' incomes. But why, you might ask, are pediatricians and child health researchers interested in tax policy? 

While the EITC's success at spurring economic mobility among low-income families is widely known, the EITC is also linked to improvements in children's health. So the real questions is - how can the EITC work even better to reduce families' economic hardships and improve children's health?

Children's HealthWatch 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Approximately 1 Million Unemployed Childless Adults Will Lose SNAP Benefits in 2016

As State Waivers Expire, Affected Individuals Are Very Poor; Few Qualify for Other Help

Roughly 1 million of the nation's poorest people will be cut off SNAP over the course of 2016, due to the return in many areas of a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults aged 18-50 who aren't disabled or raising minor children. These individuals will lose their SNAP benefits after three months regardless of how hard they are looking for work.Read more.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

SNAP Chart Book: SNAP Helps Struggling Families Put Food on the Table


The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington D.C.-based public policy think tank, released a SNAP chart book which highlights some key characteristics of the more than 46 million people using the program as well as trends and data on program administration and use. View the Chart Book.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Gearing up for Summer and Developing your Outreach Plan

Summer Meals Matter Conference Call

It might be the height of winter, but February is a prime time to plan for summer, establish your outreach strategy and develop ways to increase the visibility of your summer nutrition programs. Work with schools, advocates, summer program providers and other partners to develop a marketing plan that can increase the visibility of the program and build participation. We will discuss what sponsors and advocates can be doing in February to ensure smooth program operations. You will also hear about effective methods and resources that advocates and program providers use to promote the program and reach the children who will benefit most from summer meals.
February 12, 2015
1:00 pm eastern 
Register here

" SNAP in NYS" Guide


Hunger Solutions New York has released the online version of the 2014-2015 edition of the "Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in New York State: An Eligibility Prescreening Guide," which is an in-depth guide designed to help community organizations and individuals determine potential SNAP eligibility for households in NYS.  
The SNAP prescreening guide includes information on allowed medical expenses and deductions, the application process, necessary information and documentation, work requirements, the interview process, and calculating a budget.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Some reflections on my one month anniversary

Since my first full day at GardenShare was January 5, today is my one month anniversary!

In this first month, I've taken part in meetings of all of the committees of GardenShare, a Board of Directors retreat and regular meeting, participated in our annual Growing Community Social and helped present the Growing Community Award, and met a lot of people who are passionate about GardenShare's mission and work.

It's been tiring and exciting, frustrating and stimulating, overwhelming and filled with positive energy, all at once!

I got to revisit Foodshare last week for my official, public retirement party, and that experience only confirmed for me that I have made the right decision.

While I may have had moments of exhaustion or frustration this past month, I have also been inspired by people's passion for this work.  While I recognize the challenges that GardenShare faces, I see tremendous opportunity and untapped potential.  And while I love the North Country with all my heart, when I look around, I can't help but see the needs in this region.

Thank you for being there with GardenShare.  Thank you for inspiring me with your support.

Together, we are making a difference.  And I look forward to working with you and doing even more in the coming months and years.


Save the date for New York State anti-hunger conference

Mark your calendars – Hunger Solutions New York will be holding a New York State Anti-Hunger Conference on Thursday, May 7th, 2015. This one-day conference will take place at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, New York, and will feature discussions and workshops on anti-hunger efforts in New York State. Please join us for this informative day!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cornell farmer programs aid veterans

ITHACA, N.Y. — A well-established agricultural outreach effort run by Cornell University is taking on a new mission designed in part to help returning veterans find futures in farming, thanks to a grant announced today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Northeast Beginning Farmer Proje...
Read More

Dairy industry promotes benefits of milk

The milk industry is fed up with all the sourness over dairy.

As Americans continue turning away from milk, an industry group is pushing back at its critics with a social media campaign trumpeting the benefits of milk. The association says it needs to act because attitudes about milk are deteriorating more rapidly, with vegan groups, non-dairy competitors and other perceived enemies getting louder online.

Read the full story here:  Milk Industry Fights Back

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Can urban foraging feed poor people?

What if we connected the people most in need of healthy food with the expensive, nutrient-dense greens that just happen to be growing between the cracks in their driveways? A project at UC Berkeley is testing out this idea. Philip Stark, chair of the Berkeley statistics department, has organized a team of researchers to map edible plants in low-income neighborhoods,...
Read More

Join us for a movie night next week!

Monday, February 2, 2015

A retirement party back in Connecticut

On Thursday evening, about 200 people gathered in the Foodshare distribution center for a farewell event.  The food was great, the music was good, the speeches were very touching, and they presented me with a beautiful hand-carved walking stick, a fitting memento of my time at Foodshare.

Best of all, the corporate sponsors, those who attended, and all those who donated raised $130,000 for Foodshare. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone involved!

And for all my North Country friends...may we have a similarly successful event in 10 or 15 years upon my second retirement from GardenShare!


Asking candidates to address their priorities around poverty

More than 100 Christian faith leaders, under the umbrella organization “Circle of Protection,” are inviting 2016 presidential candidates to submit a three-minute video which outlines their poverty priorities if elected to the White House. “The state of the union is not good if you’re poor,” said Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, in a news conference announcing the challenge. “It’s not good if you’re a low-income family.” News conference participants noted that churches and charities alone cannot assist the 45.3 million poor Americans.

Faith leaders call for focus on poverty in 2016 election – Catholic Courier, January 16, 2015