Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sustainable Food and Farming classes

Registration is now open for summer online classes in Sustainable Food and Farming at UMass Amherst.  These may either be taken individually or as part of a 15-credit Certificate Program.  For a list of classes see:

This summer UMass is offering:

Full Summer Term (May 18 – August 8, 2015)
STOCKSCH 108 – Introduction to Botany (4)
Summer  I Classes (May 18 – June 26, 2015)
STOCKSCH 100 – Botany for Gardeners (GenEd-BS; 4 credits)
STOCKSCH 120 – Organic Gardening and Farming (GenEd-BS; 4 credits)
STOCKSCH 197 A – Backyard Homesteading (3 credits)
STOCKSCH 290 C –  Land Use Policy & Sustainable Farming (3 credits)
STOCKSCH 297 FP – Farm Management, Planning and Marketing (3 credits)
STOCKSCH 397 C – Community Food Systems (3 credits)
Summer  II Classes (July 6  – August 14, 2015)
STOCKSCH 100 – Botany for Gardeners (GenEd-BS; 4 credits)
STOCKSCH 117 – Agricultural Chemistry (3 credits)
STOCKSCH 297 V – Organic Vegetable Production (3 credits)
STOCKSCH 397 AE – Agricultural Ecology (3 credits)
STOCKSCH 397 S – Sustainable Site Planning and Design (3 credits)
STOCKSCH 397 FV – Post-harvest Handling of Fruits and Vegetables (3 credits)


Roughly 2 million more children live in poverty today than at the start of the recession, according to a new study that analyzes four areas affecting children’s well-being: health, hunger, housing, and abuse and neglect.  Food security, the study finds was the hardest hit. As of 2013, 15.7 million children lived in households where at least one family member didn’t get enough to eat on a regular basis. That’s 3.3 million more than at the onset of the recession. But SNAP helped ease the situation. The number of SNAP beneficiaries rose by 21 million between 2007 and 2013 to 46.5 million, resulting in about 1 in 3 kids receiving some form of nutrition assistance.

Source: Pew Charitable Trust, 3/17/15, Food Security in the Recession

Monday, March 30, 2015


The Potsdam Farmers’ Market will begin its outdoor season starting on Saturday, May 9th in Ives Park and is currently accepting vendor applications.

The market is held every Saturday, 9am to 2pm until October 31st.  There is also potential for Wednesday market, held at the same times.  This will be decided by vendor vote at the pre-season meeting. The pre-season meeting is on Saturday, April 18th at 2pm in the 2nd floor community room at the Potsdam Civic Center. All interested are welcome to attend. Vendors can hand in their application, necessary paperwork and vendor fee at that time. The full season vendor fee is $ $60.00 if paid by May 1st, $70.00 if paid after May 1st, $120.00 for double stall and $15.00 for a single day set-up.

Farmers, meat-producers, value-added (wine, baked goods, jams, jellies, etc) and handmade crafters are welcome as vendors.  On-site food sales are also welcome, with proper health department standards followed. 

Anyone interested in becoming a vendor can access the necessary forms at , under the “Become a Vendor” tab. Rules for the market are available there as well.

“The market is a great place to sell products and meet customers.” says Laura Popielski, Market Manager. “You’ll create relationships with people who want to support local which can expand your business!” 

Trivia Night a success!

GardenShare's Cabin Fever Trivia Night 2015 was another great success with a sell-out crowd, good food and drink, great questions, and fun prizes for the winners.

Thank you to our sponsors - ProAct, Stauffer Farms, and the Canton Farmers Market!  Thank you to the many farmers and local businesses who donated food or items for the prize baskets.  Thank you Ellen Rocco for your great job hosting!  Thank you to everyone who bought a ticket and joined us!

And most especially thank you to the incredible volunteer committee who put this event together to benefit GardenShare - Dave, April, Katie, Val, Zoe, and Laura!

First place team representing NCPR shows off their prizes!

Second Place team, "Bookworms," led by former GardenShare Board member Heather Sullivan Caitlin (left) with their prizes.


The budgets adopted Senate Budget committee and passed by the House each cut more than $3 trillion over 10 years (2016-2025) from programs that serve low- and moderate-income people. In dollar terms, the plans would cut these programs by $3.7 trillion House) and $3.2 trillion (Senate), respectively, over the next decade. The House plan turns SNAP into a block grant starting in 2021 and cuts SNAP funds by $125 billion, or more than a third, from 2021 to 2025.  While states would be left to decide ultimately whose benefits to reduce or terminate, cuts of this magnitude would end or cut food assistance benefits for millions of low-income families. The Senate bill does not explicitly call for block-granting SNAP, but the general allocation of its unspecified entitlement program cuts indicates that SNAP food assistance provided through would likely be cut heavily.

Ironically, the proposed cuts would affect more than 1 million people in the Congressional districts represented by House Budget Committee Republicans. In 16 of the 22 districts, between 20 and 30% of SNAP households contained at least one person aged 60 or over. In two it was well above 30%. In 12 districts between 50 and 60% of SNAP households contained children under age 18; in five districts the percentage was between 45 and 50%; in four it was slightly above 60% percent; and in one it was 70.6%.

Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/23/15, SNAP Cuts; Food Research Action Center, 3/25/15, SNAP Cuts Hurt GOP, Too

Friday, March 27, 2015


Did you see the article in yesterday's Watertown Times about the penguin fundraiser?  I had heard about this project when I visited the Gouverneur Rotary Club and since I'm staying in Gouverneur temporarily have seen the birds around town.  What a fun way to raise money to support the local food pantries!

And tomorrow, GardenShare puts the FUN in FUNdraising with our third annual Cabin Fever Trivia Night!

Hope we are going to see you there!  And thank you in advance to all of the hard-working volunteers and to the sponsors who made this possible!



Some critics argue that SNAP enrollment’s failure to fall in tandem with the sharp drop in the unemployment rate over the past few years indicates that most of the rise in SNAP’s enrollment after 2007 was not related to the economy.  The critical reality, however, is that SNAP enrollment remains high because the job market continues to exhibit scars from the Great Recession that the unemployment rate does not fully reflect. Despite increased employment numbers, the share of the population with a job remains abnormally low, the number of people working fewer hours than they would like remains abnormally high as does long-term unemployment, and wage growth continues to be anemic. In addition, the number of unemployed workers who aren’t receiving any unemployment insurance (UI) benefits — the group most likely to qualify for SNAP because they have neither sufficient wages nor UI benefits — is higher now than at the bottom of the recession

Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/18/15, SNAP and the Economy

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Help for farmers trying to sell to institutions

Are you a farmer who is already selling to institutions like schools, hospitals, and colleges, or who hopes to? Did you know that several hundred people will be gathering in Western Massachusetts at UMass Amherst from April 7th-9th to talk about Farm to Institution efforts in New England and New York?  This first- year conference will feature 50+ sessions, inspiring speakers, local tours, good food, live music, an exhibitor fair and more. The participants and presenters include food service directors, students, faculty, sustainability coordinators, farmers, distributors, nonprofit advocates, and more. Join us for this exciting event to learn, share your perspective, and meet potential buyers!

The Farm to Institution Summit will feature a Farmer Track on April 8th, the Cross-Sector Day - with sessions focusing on employment law, food safety, and sales contracts that will be brought to you by UMass Extension Educators, Farm Commons, Conservation Law Foundation, and the USDA. See the full program for the Cross-Sector Day here.

Farmers get the special registration price of $40/day. You can register here until April 1st. 


Loblaws, Canada’s largest food retailer, launched a campaign last week to sell misshapen, “ugly” produce at a discounted rate in an effort to curb the country’s food waste problem (annually, Canadians waste some 40% of their food). The campaign offers aesthetically displeasing apples and potatoes at a discount of up to 30 cents in select stores in Ontario and Quebec. The produce being sold in new campaign would have been used for juices or soups, or might not have been harvested at all, due to their appearance. Though the campaign is beginning with apples and potatoes, company officials hope that the program will grow to include other ugly fruits and vegetables in the future. The move offers savings to both the consumer, who can access healthy produce at lower costs, and the Canadian government, which loses some $31 billion dollars annually on food waste.

Source: Think Progress, 3/17/15, Ugly Fruit

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


The share of households on food stamps has more than doubled since 2000, a new Census Bureau report shows. From 2000 to 2013, the share of households receiving SNAP has grown from 6.2% to 13.5% nationally. What was once a program providing aid to 1 in 16 Americans is now helping 1 in 8.  In 2000, 10.9% of West Virginian households received food stamps—more than any other state. Today, 37 states boast rates above that level. Four states—Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan and Massachusetts—saw SNAP reliance more than triple by 2013. Another 26 saw rates more than double. Michigan and Oregon posted the largest percentage point increases, with rates up 11.7 points in each. Wyoming has seen food stamp use rise the least, with a mere 0.5 percentage point rise, the only one lacking statistical significance.

Source: Washington Post, 3/3/15, SNAP Use Doubles

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act is set to expire in September, and political opponents are already lining up to weaken new, healthier standards that affect all meals served under the federal child nutrition programs. Sen. John Hoeven announced legislation this week to roll back the whole grain and sodium standards. The School Nutrition Association, which advocates for school food service groups, has been lobbying Congress to roll back the new standards. Some schools have complained about the added food cost and have pointed to students tossing uneaten food as indicators students don’t like the taste of the foods that qualify under the law.  But a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at UConn suggests otherwise. It finds students choose fruit offered by the cafeteria 66% of the time, up from 54% in 2012 when the new rules went into affect. And they throw away less food than before the guidelines changed, consuming 84% of their entrees compared with 71% before. 

Source: The Hill, 3/12/15, School Meals

Wondering how important SNAP is to the region?

Go here on USDA's website to see some data on SNAP specific to our Congressional district.

Some highlights of the this region:

  • 40,671 households receive SNAP benefits
  • 44.4% of those households have one or more children under 18
  • 28.8% of those households have one or more senior, 60 or older
  • 95% of the heads of household are white
  • 49.3% of the households have someone who is working

Cuts to SNAP would not only be dire for these families, children, and seniors, but would also have a big impact on our economy.  These are just some of the reasons for our SNAP call-in day today!

Monday, March 23, 2015

National Call in Day: Call Congress Tomorrow!

Calling Congress is easy. Here's how:

Just dial the toll free number, (888) 398-8702, listen to the pre-recorded message and enter your zip code when prompted.

Once you are connected to your first Member of Congress or their Legislative Aide, state that you are a constituent, and give your name and the town you are calling from.

Let them know you are calling about the federal budget and SNAP and deliver this important message:

"As your constituent, I am calling you today to ask you to vote against any efforts to cut or block-grant hunger-relief programs like SNAP when you consider the budget resolution. SNAP benefits have already been cut twice in the last two years. Hungry people rely on these programs, and local food pantries will be unable to meet the need in our community if these programs are cut. Please find a better way to balance the budget."

Be sure to dial back in and speak with both of your senators and your representative. Research shows that a legislator will take notice if just 10-30 people call in on a topic. We are joining with other anti-hunger programs across the nation to speak with one voice. Please take a moment and be a part of this effort.


The House and Senate Republicans unveiled their budget plans this week. Both address the wishes of fiscal conservatives to: slash federal spending by trillions to balance the budget within a decade, repeal Obamacare, reform the Tax Code and overhaul popular entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid — all while boosting Pentagon funding. Both plans call for saving more than $1 trillion by cutting entitlement programs like SNAP. House Republicans intend to turn SNAP into a block grant called a “State Flexibility Fund” and turn it over to state control starting in 2021. Block grants give states the “flexibility” to increase eligibility requirements, reduce the number of recipients, and free up those federal dollars for other uses. They also allow the federal government to give states a fixed amount and hope they will cover the increased cost when demand rises. The Congressional Budget Office this week issued a report that said that if the SNAP program were converted into a block grant, with a 15% cut in funding, “average benefits would almost surely decline significantly unless state or private funding made up some or all of the difference.”

Sources: Politico, 3/18/15, Budget Plan; Campaign for America’s Future, 3/17/15, GOP Budget; Think Progress, 3/17/15, SNAP Attack

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Malnutrition is a growing problem among older Americans. Of the millions of older adults admitted to the hospital every year, at least one in three is malnourished upon admission. And about half of older adults in rehabilitation settings are malnourished, which may place them at higher risk for malnutrition. Further, patients who enter the hospital malnourished have heightened risks of poorer health outcomes, including longer hospital stays, higher healthcare costs, greater complication and readmission rates, and higher mortality rates. A variety of factors contribute to this situation, according to a Gerontological Society of America paper: taste disturbances, difficulty accessing or preparing food because of functional limitations or cognitive decline, anxiety, depression, bereavement, and poverty all may cause older individuals to eat less.

Source: Huffington Post, 3/18/15, Senior Malnutrition

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Just a few seats left for Trivia Night next weekend

We know you want one (or more) of those seats, so be sure to get your reservation in soon by e-mailing or calling 261-8054.  Tickets are $25 a person, which can be paid in advance or at the door with a confirmed reservation.

Trivia Night is presented by ProAct to benefit GardenShare's work to solve hunger and build community food security.  Additional sponsors include Stauffer Farms and the Canton Farmer's Market.

Host Ellen Rocco will have 50 questions in 5 categories for the teams to answer.  There are some fabulous prizes for the first and second place teams!

It's going to be a lot of fun, so get your reservation in now!


Evidence continues to mount that lack of adequate food, stable housing, health care, and other essentials in infancy and early childhood can affect children’s brain development, with long-term consequences for their physical, mental, academic, and economic well-being. Extensive research over the past 40 years shows that WIC contributes to positive developmental and health outcomes for low-income women and young children.  In particular, WIC participation is associated with healthier births, more nutritious diets, stronger connections to preventive health care, and improved cognitive development.

Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/16/15, WIC Benefits

Friday, March 20, 2015

CSA "Bonus Bucks" program is open for 2015

"Bonus Bucks" provides a "scholarship" to help lower income families access the benefits of membership in a CSA - Community Supported Agriculture.  The concept of a CSA is that we each buy a share of a local farmer's crop in advance and thus share in both the risk and reward with the farmer.

Over the course of a growing season, the customer generally gets more than their money's worth.  But for a lower income household, putting the funds out up front can be a challenge.  That's where Bonus Bucks comes in.

To see if you qualify and find the form to sign up, go here.  Any questions, contact us at

Urgent Action Needed Now: Oppose Budget Proposals to Cut SNAP

The House and Senate are expected to take up their respective FY2016 Budget Resolutions next week as the Budget Committees wrap up their bills today.

Here are five things you can do to weigh in with your Members:

1) Share new SNAP data tool with your Members of Congress.
Data on SNAP participation rates by congressional district is now available via an interactive map from USDA. We strongly encourage you to reach out to your Senators and House Members immediately and use this data as part of your arsenal to protect SNAP from budget cuts. The time for us to act is now. As our anti-hunger hero, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), says, “This is real. This is not a false alarm.”

How to Use this Data When Talking to Your Members of Congress:

  • Highlight Number of SNAP Households: Urge your members to carefully consider how cuts to SNAP would be a disaster for thousands (use the number of households on the data sheet to make your point) of the most vulnerable citizens in his/her own backyard, including children, seniors, people with disabilities and others who are just trying to make ends meet.
  • Point out the poverty level. Explain how cuts to SNAP would only make poverty and hunger in the district much worse, and would have a negative ripple effect for business and the local economy.
  • Highlight the Work Status numbers to illustrate that the majority of SNAP households had at least one employed person over the past year, which shows that these households are doing their best to make ends meet. SNAP plays a critical role in filling in the gaps — while also ensuring individuals get the nutrition they need - so people may be lifted out of poverty, rather than falling deeper into it.
2) Tuesday, March 24: Participate in Keep SNAP Strong Call-In Day.
Call your Representatives (pdf) and Senators (pdf) and tell them to:

  1. protect SNAP;
  2. speak out on the floor in support of SNAP; and
  3. use the data above to vote on behalf of constituents who rely on SNAP and other programs that help lift people out of poverty.
3) Sign and share this petition telling Congress to keep SNAP strong.
We are aiming for 15,000 signatures for next week’s floor debates. We are one-third of the way there!
Sample tweet: Join me and @fractweets in telling Congress to keep SNAP strong. Tell a friend

4) Share stories, stories, and more stories about how diverse populations have benefitted from SNAP.
And, be sure to participate in Rep. McGovern’s #FillUpYourPlate campaign and share what SNAP means to you.

5) Check out FRAC’s SNAP resources.

What Happens Next:  
This week, the House and Senate Budget Committees have been debating their budget resolutions.

The House budget resolution was approved Thursday, March 19, along a party line vote of 22-13.

The bill will be on the floor for a vote by the full House during the week of March 23. During this time, Members will vote on amendments to the Bill.

The House budget converts SNAP to a block grant, and assumes cuts of $125 billion over 10 years.

The Senate Budget Committee will debate its budget resolution on Thursday, March 19, and consider amendments in Committee.

Consideration by the full Senate will occur next week at the same time as the House floor action. Votes are expected in both chambers mid-week.

While the Senate budget proposal does not include “reconciliation instructions” for the Agriculture Committee, the proposal recommends massive potential cuts that are broad and ambiguous, but could result in more than $1 trillion in cuts to social safety net and welfare programs, including SNAP, school lunch and other child nutrition programs, Supplemental Security Income for the elderly and disabled poor, the Earned Income Tax Credit, among other programs.

Source:  Food Research and Action Center

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

10 days to go...have you signed up for Trivia Night?


A growing number of seniors are at risk for food insecurity. They are struggling to have enough resources to pay for food, which often leads to them to choose lower quality, less expensive food. Unfortunately, only 35.1% of eligible seniors participate in SNAP. Studies suggest that these low SNAP participation rates are due to lack of awareness about eligibility, stigma associated with receiving benefits, low average benefit levels, high costs in navigating the application process (e.g., difficulty getting to application sites), and less need for SNAP than other groups. A new report outlines the problems and potential solutions.

Source: National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, 3/6/15, SNAP and Seniors

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Starting your own seeds

Some people think that the most expensive part of gardening is buying the plants. The best way to avoid this problem is to simply grow your own plants from seeds. Once you learn how to germinate seeds, you will always be able to have cheap plants. It is easy to get started with cheap seed starting. 

Go to to learn how!


An estimated 60,000 veterans may lose SNAP benefits over the course of 2016 as a 3-month limit on benefits for unemployed, nondisabled adults without children returns in many areas. One provision of the 1996 welfare law limits childless adults to 3 months of SNAP benefits in any 36-month period unless they are working half time or participating in a training program. The law doesn’t require states to help the affected people find jobs or provide job training—very few do. Many states temporarily waived the 3-month limit during the recession.  But as the economy recovers and unemployment falls, the waivers will end and more people will face the limit. Low-income veterans are especially vulnerable to the time limit.  Unemployment for veterans serving since September 2001 remains high averaging 9% in 2013 (the most recent year available).

Source: Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 3/10/15, Jobless Vets

Monday, March 16, 2015

Thinking about spring planting?

Can You Use Out-of-Date Seeds?
The simple answer is yes! No harm will come from using old seeds. The question is not so much about whether or not to use old seeds but rather your chances of germinating old seeds. Old seeds may take longer to grow flowers and/or fruit.
The flowers or fruit that come from out-of-date seeds will be of the same quality as if they were grown from fresh seeds. Using old vegetable seeds will produce vegetables that are just as nutritious as those from current season seeds.

How Long Will Old Seeds Stay Viable?
In order for a seed to germinate, it must be viable or alive. All seeds are alive when they come from their mother plant. Three major things affect a seed’s viability:
  1. Age: All seeds stay viable for at least one year and most will be viable for two years. After the first year, germination rates for out-of-date seeds start to fall.
  2. Type: The type of seed can affect how long it stays viable. Corn or pepper seeds will have a hard time surviving past the two year mark. Bean, pea, tomato, and carrot seeds can all stay viable up to four years while cucumber and lettuce seeds can last as long as six years.
  3. Storage conditions: Your old vegetable and flower seed packets will last longer if they are stored in a cool, dark place. Your produce drawer in the refrigerator is a good choice for storage!
Regardless of the date on your seed packet, germinating old seeds is worth a shot. Using old seeds is a great way to empty out those half-used seed packets that tend to accumulate from year to year! 


Rep. James McGovern, a Democrat from central Massachusetts, has resurrected the bipartisan House Hunger Caucus with Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS).  The caucus is a forum for members to discuss, advance, and work on issues related to domestic and international hunger and food insecurity. The caucus has hosted briefings on topics ranging from introductions to the major domestic and international hunger programs to food deserts in rural and urban America to global agriculture and farmer-to-farmer initiatives to international school feeding and child nutrition programs. One of the caucus’s most important objectives is to bring together federal agencies, state and local governments, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, academia, and business to discuss long-term strategies for ending hunger.

Source: Rep. McGovern, 3/4/15, Hunger Caucus

Friday, March 13, 2015


Most educators regularly see students come to school hungry, and school breakfast programs often are inadequate for addressing the issue. Hunger in Our Schools 2015, a new report from No Kid Hungry, finds that 75% of public school teachers say their students regularly attend school hungry, causing them to lose concentration, lack energy, and have more behavioral problems. Although 94% of public schools offer breakfast programs, participation remains low because the programs are delivered poorly. Many start too early, single out students who need breakfast, and require too much effort on the part of students, the report says.

Source: Share Our Strength, 3/15, Hunger in Schools

Thursday, March 12, 2015

GardenShare photo contest

Do you have a great photo that represents the bounty of the harvest from our North Country farms?  

Here's your chance for fame and fortune!  Or at least a little bit of fame!

We are looking for a high quality photo for the cover of the 2015 Local Food Guide.  If you have one that you think would be good, please send it to by March 20!

Ronald Tavernier's photo of veggies from Kent Family Growers graced last year's cover.


Recent testimony before Congress highlighted the causes and consequences for SNAP participants of “churning,” the process that occurs when a household receiving SNAP exits the program and then re-enters within four months or less. An Urban Institute study found that churn rates across the 6 participating states range from 17 to 28% for FY 2011. The causes of churn are complex. Fluctuations in SNAP recipients’ earnings appear to play only a limited role. The much larger story, however, is that procedural difficulties, which typically happen when an agency is recertifying a household’s eligibility or when a recipient reports on household changes that might affect monthly benefits, also cause churn. Churn has financial consequences to both agencies and clients. Re-opening cases requires a new application, which cost agencies more than recertification. Clients lose the benefits they may have been eligible for during their churn spell.

Source: Urban Institute, 2/26/15, SNAP Churn

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Lisa Murkowski have introduced a bill to make the Summer Meals Program available to more children and simplify the administration of the program. The Summer Meals Act (s. 613) would:
      Allow community-based organizations to participate if 40% (rather than the current 50%) of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
      Allow local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations to feed children year-round – after school and in the summer – through a single Summer Food Service Program process.
      Provide funding for transportation grants to fund innovative approaches and mobile meal trucks.
      Allow all sites to serve a third meal.

Source: Food Research Action Center, 3/3/15, Summer Meals

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Increasing school breakfast participation

Efforts are underway around the country to ensure that all children who need it are able to get a healthy breakfast at school.  For example:

  • Efforts underway to improve participation in school breakfast program in Kansas – Kansas City Kansan, March 4, 2015 -- A number of Kansas schools will be implementing breakfast in the classroom with help from Walmart Foundation grants distributed by Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom. “The benefits of children eating breakfast at school include better performance on standardized tests and better attendance records,” said Cheryl Johnson, director of child wellness and nutrition at the Kansas State Department of Education. “Additionally, children who eat breakfast are less disruptive in the classroom. It’s reassuring to know that more Kansas schoolchildren will reap the benefits of a nutritious morning meal thanks to these grant opportunities.”
  • Campaign encourages participation in school breakfast program – Statesman Journal, March 3, 2015 -- As part of National School Breakfast Week (March 2-6), Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, in partnership with the Oregon Dairy Council and the Oregon Department of Education, are encouraging school breakfast participation. The groups are sharing the number of eligible children not receiving school breakfast in the state, increasing awareness of federal support for the program, and assisting schools in implementing the federal nutrition programs. Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon noted that a FRAC study showed that school breakfast participation in the state did not increase between 2012-13 and 2013-14.
  • Bill would require ‘breakfast after the bell’ at more schools – Edsource, March 3, 2015 -- California legislation introduced by Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Assemblyman Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) – Assembly Bill 1240 – would boost school breakfast participation by requiring schools to make breakfast part of the school day by serving it after the bell in the classroom or from grab-and-go carts. The proposed legislation would begin in 2016-17, be phased in over three years, and affect schools where at least 40 percent of students qualify for subsidized school meals. “The highest participation rates are in schools where students are allowed to eat breakfast in the classroom,” said Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, which recently released two school breakfast reports.

This is an important conversation for all of us at GardenShare and in the communities of St. Lawrence County to engage in.  According to Hunger Solutions New York, in the 2011-12 school year, 8,188 students in St. Lawrence County were eligible for a free or reduced-price breakfast at school, but only 3,526 or 43% of those eligible were taking part.  In the 2012-13 school year, the situation got worse.  A few less students were eligible - 8,092, but even fewer of them, 3,382 or 42% were eating breakfast at school.

Hunger Solutions NY has set a goal of having 70% of the children who are eligible for a free or reduced-price breakfast at school actually get this meal.  If we accomplished this goal in St. Lawrence County, it would bring an additional $168,565.62 in federal reimbursements for these meals into our county!  More important, an additional 652 children would get a healthy breakfast every day of the school year!

Farm Credit East donates to support Youth Summit

Thank you to Farm Credit East for their gift of $1,000 to sponsor the 2015 North Country Food Day Youth Summit, to be held at SUNY Potsdam on October 22.

Jennifer Hunter of the Potsdam Farm Credit East office presented the check this morning to GardenShare Board of Directors member Sanford Stauffer.

The North Country Food Day Youth Summit is a biennial event - a day of workshops, networking, and action planning for high school students from across the North Country.

Topics are expected to include:
·         diet and health
·         sustainable agriculture
·         hunger in our communities
·         junk food marketing to kids


Congressional Republicans this week began a comprehensive review of the food stamp program to determine what is working – and to eliminate what in their view is not – a move that could affect thousands of recipients. The Republican view was probably expressed by Doug Besharov, a University of Maryland professor, who testified that food stamps and other social programs often provide a disincentive for the unemployed to find work who said, “The work-discouraging effect of safety-net programs should be neither surprising or controversial. Their very purpose is making getting a job less urgent”.

Even without Congressional action, many unemployed SNAP recipients may find they are no longer eligible after the end of the year—states' waivers from the requirement that “able-bodied" adults without dependents, work or be in a job training program for at least 20 hours a week to qualify for food stamps for more than 90 days in any three-year period expires at the end of the year, and Congress is not expected to extend it.

Source: Connecticut Mirror, 2/27/15, SNAP Review

Monday, March 9, 2015

Trivia Night - a FUNdraiser

Plan to join us on March 28 at 6:30 PM at the Parkview in Canton for Trivia Night.  The event is generously underwritten by our sponsors ProAct and Stauffer Farms.  Admission is $25 per person.  Bring your own team of four or we can match you up with a team.

Host Ellen Rocco will have family friendly questions in five categories and there will be fabulous prizes for the first and second place teams.

This event has sold out two years in a row!  So make your reservation soon by calling 315-261-8054 or e-mailing!

Proceeds benefit GardenShare's work to build a food secure North Country.

Presented by:


USDA plans to award more than $27 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed help end childhood hunger Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week. The announcement was part of USDA efforts to focus on poverty and food insecurity among children, especially in rural areas. Projects will be tested in three states, as well as the Chickasaw and Navajo tribal nations. 

Kentucky will test the effect of providing households with children an additional transportation deduction that may increase their SNAP benefits. Nevada will test the relative impacts on SNAP households with children of (1) an increase in SNAP benefits, and (2) a SNAP increase plus additional outreach, education, and case management. Virginia will test the effect of providing (1) three school meals a day to all children in select schools during the school year, (2) food for weekends and school breaks, and (3) more resources for low-income households to purchase food during the summer months.

Source: USDA, 3/2/15, Ending Childhood Hunger

Sunday, March 8, 2015


According to the federal government’s official poverty rate, nearly 1/3 of America’s children (11.2 million) lived in poverty in 2011-13.  But that measure does not include the nation’s poverty-fighting programs like SNAP, tax credits, Social Security, and housing subsidies.  When analysts include government supports, the poverty rate among children drops to 18%. The earned income and child care tax credits have the greatest effect, reducing the poverty rate by nearly 8 percentage points. SNAP reduces the poverty rate by another 2 percentage points and affects over 2 million kids. In Connecticut, these programs reduce the child poverty rate by nearly 50% (from 25 to 13%) and affect 94,000 kids.

Source: Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2/27/15, Reducing Child Poverty

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Changes made to government-subsidized school meals by the Obama administration to get children to eat more fruits are working, according to a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at UConn. The study found that between 2012, when the changes took effect, through 2014, the percentage of students choosing fruit on a cafeteria line increased to 66% from 54%. Perhaps more important, children threw away less food now than before. Students are now eating 84% of their entrees, not including fruit, up from 71% before the new guidelines were put in place, thus decreasing the amount of food waste. Many critics of the new guidelines had claimed that children were throwing food away because they were being forced to eat more nutritious, but less desirable, meals.

Source: New York Times, 3/5/15, Fruit in School

Friday, March 6, 2015

Farm to school updates

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. Register here

Take Action!

Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. To learn more, download this fact sheet or visit

Request for Proposals for Native Agriculture & Food Systems Initiative Grants

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) is now accepting proposals for its Native Agriculture & Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI). Through the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, First Nations plans to distribute up to eight grant awards averaging $26,000 to support projects that address food-system control, food insecurity and food deserts, with an emphasis on serving Native American children and families. Proposals are due March 25, 2015. More information can be found here

Thursday, March 5, 2015

State Senate unveils "Grown in NY" plan

Senator Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and members of the Senate Republican Conference today unveiled their new “Grown in New York” multi-part plan to help meet consumers’ demands for locally-grown food, support local farmers in their efforts to provide quality, fresh food, and strengthen rural communities.  This initiative will be included in the State Senate budget resolution.


While over 9 million Americans over the age of 60 do not know where their next meal will come from about 40% of the food produced in this country is never eaten. The National Foundation to End Senior Hunger has created an innovative approach to address both problems. It’s What A Waste program applies to senior nutrition programs a technology that was being used to track food waste in restaurants, hotels, and other catering operations. Through daily monitoring, the program can provide senior nutrition programs detailed monthly reports that include waste details by menu item, as well as nutrient loss from foods that were not consumed. All of this information can be used to help the programs develop menus based around nutritious foods that seniors will eat, so they get the nutrition they need to support good health. Pilot projects are producing results that are beyond expectation.

Source: National Center to End Senior Hunger, 2/18/15, Food Waste

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

N.Y. farming economy grew 22%

Read more here.


A new report shows that about 60 million metric tons of food are wasted a year in the U.S., with an estimated value of $162 billion. About half of it ends up in municipal landfills, at a cost of about $1.5 billion a year to local governments. The problem is not limited to the U.S.—1/3 of all the food produced in the world is never consumed, and the total cost of that food waste could be as high as $400 billion a year. The UN says food discarded by retailers and consumers in the most developed countries would be more than enough to feed all of the world’s 870 million hungry people.

Source: New York Times, 2/26/15, Food Waste Costs

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sometimes snow days = no food days

From an article in the Huffington Post last week:  "While most kids rejoice upon hearing the news of a snow day, many low-income children dread that phone call more than anything else during the winter season."

Why?  Because sometimes their only healthy meals of the day are the ones they get at school!

In one of my "getting acquainted" meetings recently, I was glad to hear that some school superintendents in the North Country are reluctant to call snow days, because they know the kids will be home with no food, maybe no or little heat, and maybe no supervision.

I'm a parent and a grandparent.  I want the kids to be safe.  But I also want them to have healthy meals so they can grow and learn and become productive members of society.

How do we solve this?  I'm not sure I know.  But I do know that we won't solve it if we aren't acknowledging it and talking about it.  And I also know that I cannot tolerate living in a society where it's okay for children to go hungry, so I will keep fighting with every fiber of my being until we do solve the problem!


Food Day -- looking back, looking ahead

On and around October 24, 2014, more than 8,000 events and activities took place in all 50 states in celebration of Food Day. The Food Day 2014 Campaign Report offers a visual snapshot of what the fourth annual Food Day celebration looked like. Check it out today! Full of event ideas, use it as a source of inspiration as you begin to plan for Food Day 2015.

Because we want everyone to eat better and healthier diets not only on Food Day, but every day, we’re sharing three delicious stews created by The Healthy Cook Kate Sherwood. They’re hearty and satisfying. And because vegetables and legumes take center stage, they’re better for you and the planet.

This coming October, GardenShare will be hosting our biennial North Country Food Day Youth Summit - a day of workshops, networking, and action planning for high school students from across the North Country.

Topics include:
·         diet and health
·         sustainable agriculture
·         hunger in our communities
·         junk food marketing to kids 

A volunteer committee planning this event - contact us if you would like to help!

And, watch for more information coming out soon!

Monday, March 2, 2015


The number of children receiving food stamps remains higher than it was before the start of the Great Recession in 2007, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau table.

The rate of children living with married parents who receive food stamps has doubled since 2007. In 2014, an estimated 16 million children, or about one in five, received SNAP assistance compared with the roughly 9 million children, or one in eight, that received this form of assistance before the recession.

Source: Census Bureau, 2/20/15, Kids on SNAP

Food pantry funding

Did you read the article on the front page of today's Watertown Times - Food Pantries Cope with Loss of Annual Grant Program?

Nothing I say or write is meant to disparage Mr. Feinstein or his Foundation - he has been giving away a million dollars a  year for a long time.

But, one line in the article says it all for me... "Last year, the Carthage pantry collected around $20,000 worth of donations during the two-month challenge, which earned it a $300 grant from the Feinstein Challenge."

The organization I was previously with stopped participating in this program a few years ago because we did not feel we could call it a "matching grant" or even a "challenge grant" when we knew we would receive only pennies on the dollar.

I am sure that each of the food pantries mentioned in the article and many others around the region could find a local sponsor who would donate $300 or even $1,000 to sponsor a challenge.  I was glad to read on and find that the Lowville Food Pantry was thinking about it that way.

The bottom line - people are generous and they want to help.  With or without a challenge grant, people will respond if we explain the needs and ask.


Food Safety Modernization Act webinar for farmers next Monday

The Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, is a sweeping overhaul of federal food safety regulations that affects fruit and vegetable producers significantly. After the release of initial proposed regulations, the US Food and Drug Administration received thousands of public comments and have since revised the proposed rules. Join Farm Credit East’s webinar on Monday, March 9, at 11:00 AM to find out the FSMA’s current status and how it will affect your business. Participation is free.
Wesley Kline, of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, will present this webinar. He’ll take a look at what’s known, what is still uncertain and what may change in 2015 regarding the Food Safety Modernization Act. Mr. Kline will cover the timeline for compliance, compliance considerations for various size farms, as well as considerations for “mixed facilities,” such as those who handle other farm’s produce, including CSAs. Finally, he’ll explain integration with existing programs, such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
Producers are invited to join this webinar on Monday, March 9, from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM to learn more about the Food Safety Modernization Act. This webinar is free to participate. Click here to register to attend.
—Farm Credit East
For more articles on food safety, click here.