Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How consumer choices cause food waste

The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that, depending on the crop, anywhere from 1 to 30% of food grown by farmers doesn't get to the grocery store. And we eaters play a big role in that waste.  We've come to expect beautiful displays of cosmetically perfect fruits and vegetables. But nature doesn’t always produce perfection. There’s nothing wrong with yellow cauliflower: the yellow tint comes from sun exposure; it's crunchy and every bit as nutritious as white cauliflower. But it won’t sell. California farmers, retailers, and policy makers are taking steps to address the problem. Some producers, including Ocean Mist and HMC Farms, donate some less-than-perfect produce to California food banks. California offers tax credits to farmers who donate produce, but the food banks are lobbying for bigger deductions. And there are only six other states that give tax breaks to growers for donating food. Now  high-end grocery chain Raley's, which has more than 100 stores in California and Nevada, says it will launch a pilot program, "Real Good" produce, in 10 stores in mid-July that will permit consumers to buy imperfect produce at a discount.
Source: NPR, 6/17/15, Food Waste

Monday, June 29, 2015

How to lower the poverty rate

The poverty rate would be lower if all families with children participated in the anti-poverty programs for which they are eligible, according to a new study by the Brookings Institute, drawn from a recent Urban Institute analysis of data,  Deep poverty could  be significantly lower. Large percentages of children and adults eligible for assistance through SNAP, WIC, free or reduced-price school meals, and EITC don’t take advantage of the help, mainly due to barriers standing in their way, rather than personal preference or limited access to church, community, or local government services. According to the latest data, 17% of those eligible for both the school lunch program and SNAP don’t enroll in those programs; 20% of Americans eligible for the EITC don’t sign up; and fully 37% of mothers and children who are entitled to take part in WIC have not enrolled. The report suggests streamlining applications, more outreach, and initiatives like the Community Eligibility Provision would help increase program participation.
Source: The Fiscal Times, 6/1/2/15, Reduce Poverty

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hunger Free Kids legislation

Here's one opinion, what's yours?

The 5-Year Plan for National Childhood Nutrition: Don’t Undo the Progress 
US News and World Report, June 16, 2015

Five years ago President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law, and through its school meal nutrition improvement provisions, more children are responding positively to healthier school meals, eating more fruits and vegetables at school, and wasting less food. The act is up for reauthorization this year, and “[g]roups such as…the Food Research and Action Center…have begun advocacy and awareness campaigns to ensure that Congress understands that we must not roll back the regulations that are producing real changes in school food, child feeding programs and children’s diets,” writes Ann Cooper in this op-ed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Getting meals to kids in the summer

This works in rural Tennessee, I bet it would work in the North Country...

A cafeteria on wheels: Hawkins County program offers food to hungry 
Knoxville News Sentinel, June 15, 2015

While summer meals are available for low-income Tennessee children, in the hills of Appalachia gas prices and transportation difficulties make it tough for many children to access these meals. One Accord Ministries has two renovated school buses that deliver meals to these children through its Lunch Box Program, and Walmart recently donated $32,000 to purchase and renovate two more buses and expand the program from three to five days a week. The program receives reimbursements from the federal government for the meals. One of the bus drivers remarked that on the first day driving the bus, two sisters climbed on board and said they hadn’t had anything to eat but cold cereal in three days. During the school year, more than 20 million children rely on school meals, according to FRAC.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What's the best selling item in grocery stores?

Carbonated beverages top the charts when it comes to grocery items that sell like (actually, better than) hot cakes. In 2009, Americans spent $12 billion on carbonated beverages at grocery stores alone, making it the best-selling grocery store item, according to Information Resources, a marketing research firm.

Remember Coca-Cola’s iconic “Hilltop” advertisement, where people on a hillside sung about their wish to “buy the world a Coke”? You might have seen it reappear in the season finale of Mad Men on AMC recently.

For decades, Coca-Cola and other big soda companies have spent billions on trying to convince us that soda equals happiness. But Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, and other sugar drinks promote type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, and other health problems. Drinking too much soda equals sadness!

Our friends @CSPI thought it would be interesting to see a fresh take on the Hilltop ad—where real people, suffering from soda-related health problems—could tell their stories.

Watch and share the new version of the Hilltop ad:

Friday, June 19, 2015

Day of Action on child nutrition next week

It's hard to remember what one was doing five years ago, but it all came back to me today in a message about the Child Nutrition Act.  Five years ago, I was working on helping to pass this legislation, which resulted in great improvements in our nation's childhood nutrition programs. In 2010, the Child Nutrition Act (commonly known as the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act) passed Congress.  This Act included significant improvements to programs like the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and WIC. It increased children's access to nutritious food, improved the nutritional standards of school food and supported healthier school environments by severely curtailing the sale of junk food in schools.
The Child Nutrition Act is due for reauthorization again.  This legislation regulates all federal school meal and child nutrition programs, and the reauthorization process can alter these programs drastically. Changes to regulations that safeguard children's access to nutritious food could eliminate much of the progress that's been made in the past five years.
Advocacy groups around the country are gearing up campaigns to ensure that the CNR will continue to protect American children from hunger and malnutrition. Here's one way you can be involved...

Child Nutrition Reauthorization Day of Action

Join FRAC and other national anti-hunger organizations on Tuesday, June 23rd for a Day of Action in support of a strong child nutrition bill that invests and improves the programs. As momentum is building in the House and the Senate, we need to join together in one unified effort and urge Members of Congress to support two bicameral bills — the Summer Meals Act of 2015 and the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2015 — that have great potential to dramatically reduce hunger during the summer months. We need your help before, during, and after the Day of Action in order to make sure our efforts propel the Congress to pass a robust child nutrition bill.

Lead Up to Day of Action
Leading up to June 23rd, spark conversations across Twitter and Facebook with messages and stories about the critical need to invest in child nutrition programs. Visit FRAC’s Legislative Action Center to 1) send emails to your Members of Congress to sponsor the bills and 2) have your organization sign our petitions endorsing the bills and helping us reach 1500 endorsing organizations by July 15th. We also urge you to share our petitions on social media with your networks and encourage others to do the same. We have developed sample messages for you to share and tailor to your networks.

Day of Action, June 23rd
On the Day of Action, we encourage you to call/email your Members of Congress asking them to cosponsor the Summer Meals Act and the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act. We have sample messages you can share with Hill staff. Keep sharing your efforts on social media, and be sure to tag FRAC whenever possible to keep us up to date.

After the Day of Action

Continue the momentum following the Day of Action excitement by starting to plan and set up site visits and in-district lobby meetings while your Members of Congress are home during 4th of July and August recess. We have several tools and resources to help you plan, organize, execute, and follow up on successful visits and meetings. These in-person interactions with Members of Congress are critical to highlighting the local impact of the child nutrition programs.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Summer intern joins GardenShare

Her first week on the job and
was a good sport...wearing a
costume for the Dairy Princess Parade!
Name: Liz Hills

Town of residence: Granville, Ohio

Role at GardenShare: Summer Intern

How long? 10 weeks

Why I do what I do: Ensuring that everyone has access to local, healthy food is a passion of mine. Both my parents were raised in the North Country (Canton and Ogdensburg) so this area has always been very special to me. I love being able to help connect the farms/ farmers markets to the people of St. Lawrence County and raise awareness of the benefits of eating locally.

Role outside of GardenShare: I am a rising senior at St. Lawrence University. My major is Environmental Studies combined with Sociology and I am also the president of the SLU chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Hobbies: In my free time I enjoy outdoor activities such as running and hiking. When I’m not bogged down with homework during the semester I also love reading novels. Currently I’m reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.

Favorite song, book, or movie? Song: Oh! Darling by The Beatles. Book: The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Movie: City of God.  

If you were a superhero, what would your power be? Teleportation (think jumper)! I would travel all around the world if I could avoid expensive plane tickets!

What one word would you use to describe yourself? Corny

Share something about yourself that few people know. My bellybutton is slightly smaller than normal.

What would I find in your refrigerator right now? A bunch of leftovers and some hummus. 


While the U.S. economy adds jobs and the financial markets steadily improve, a growing number of seniors are having trouble keeping food on the table. In 2013, 9.6 million Americans over the age of 60—or one of every six older men and women—could not reliably buy or access food at least part of the year, according to a new analysis. Across the country, the rate of food insecurity among seniors has more than doubled since 2001, according to the National Council on Aging. And it is projected to climb even further as the Baby Boom generation gets older. Researchers who study the trend say the causes of the increase in senior hunger are complicated and overlap and include the logistical challenges of getting to a grocery store for seniors who can no longer drive or endure long rides on public transportation due to illness, disability, or dementia; and medical expenses, which increase steadily as people age and often use up larger portions of seniors’ incomes, money that otherwise might be used on groceries.

Source: CNN Money, 5/26/15, Senior Hunger

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

One idea for improving federal food programs


A conservative scholar recently told Congress that federal food assistance programs like SNAP are not meeting their full potential because of inefficiencies and duplication. While these programs are an important part of the nation’s safety net, and research shows that they improve the health and nutrition of low-income families, the current system does not adequately share knowledge about how best to help families with their food needs, according to Angela Rachidi. She argued that food assistance programs could help more families on a lower budget if they were centralized and became more efficient. She suggested reforms such as categorical eligibility and program consolidations that allow for easier communication across governing bodies and agencies.

Source: American Enterprise Institute, 5/20/15, Food Program Coordination

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


In 2014, Congress created the bipartisan National Commission on Hunger to find ways to effectively use existing programs and funds to address domestic hunger and food insecurity and reduce need for government nutrition assistance programs, while protecting the safety net for the most vulnerable members of society. The commission held its first public hearing last month in Albany, New York, where it heard from a variety of speakers from across the political spectrum, including several food bank directors and advocates, as well as conservative think tank policy experts. The commission is to report to Congress and USDA by October 2015.

Source: National Commission on Hunger, 5/13/15, Hunger Hearings

Monday, June 15, 2015


In reality, Americans who need government aid are a shifting population. Who's poor changes with time and circumstance. A parent who loses a job — and the health care that came with it — may temporarily need to rely on Medicaid. A college graduate who can find only part-time work right out of school may need food stamps until she gets a full-time job. This point is clear in a new Census Bureau report on who participated in the country's major means-tested programs like Medicaid, SNAP, and Section 8 housing assistance from 2009 to 2012. It reveals that most people receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—about 63%—participated for less than 12 months; less than 10% were enrolled for most of those 4 years. Similarly, about a third of people using SNAP and Medicaid were what the Census considers "short-term program participants"; the same is true of about 25% of people getting housing assistance.

Sources: Washington Post, 5/29/15, Who Gets Help; Census Bureau, 5/28/15, Assistance Participation

Friday, June 12, 2015

A little piece of good news...


In the first quarter of 2015, 15.8% of Americans reported that in the last 12 months they had struggled to afford food for themselves or their families. This is the lowest percentage measured since 2008. The drop over the past year, when 17.4% of Americans reported struggling to buy food, affected most key demographic groups: Blacks, Asians, younger Americans, and lower-income Americans saw the most improvement in their ability to afford food.

Source: Gallup, 6/5/15, Food Hardship Drops

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A successful fundraising dinner

Thanks to all who made it possible and helped GardenShare raise over $5,600!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dairy Princess Parade Winners

GardenShare had a float in the Dairy Princess Parade drawing attention to the need for all families to have access to a healthy diet, including dairy products.

And we won second place in the non-commercial division!

Could it have been because of these great volunteers?

Monday, June 8, 2015


My usually faithful daily posts on some food security topic have not happened these last few days!  The GardenShare office has been without internet access for more than three weeks now.  That means I'm constantly running around, to a coffee shop or even home, in order to get work done.  And writing to this blog has fallen by the wayside!

Here's hoping we are back online soon!


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

GardenShare annual dinner deadline is today!

Hope you can join us for this fundraising dinner and support GardenShare's efforts to make healthy, sustainable food choices accessible to everyone in our community.

Our friends at Jake's have prepared an amazing  menu of fresh, locally sourced spring bounty. Share a meal and conversation with others passionate about food justice in the North Country.

Tickets are $75 per person...go here to order your tickets online.

Today is the deadline!  So please call us at (315) 261-8054 or go online to reserve your tickets today!
Live music with Theresa Witmer, Mike Weil, and Laurel Kuxhaus.

A silent auction of locally donated goods and services will help even more!


Special thanks to our sponsors for their generous support of this event:

Partnership Sponsors:

  • Green Hammer Construction
  • North Country Savings Bank
  • SeaComm Federal Credit Union
  • Stauffer Farms

Friend Sponsor:

  • Save-A-Lot

Monday, June 1, 2015

Volunteers supporting GardenShare

Who is GardenShare?  A mostly volunteer driven organization, so we thought we'd take some space in this blog from time to time to highlight some of the great volunteers who make our work possible.  If you'd like to volunteer, please visit or get in touch with us!

Here's our first volunteer profile!

Name:  Anneke J. Larrance

Town of residence:  Canton

Role at GardenShare :  Board member and co-chair of Outreach and Education Committee

How long?  Began on the O&E committee in March, 2011.  I became a board member in January, 2014

Why I do what I do:  I believe everyone should have enough to eat.

Role outside of GardenShare:  Chair of the Methodist church Trustees, Board member of Grasse River Heritage,  Outreach Committee member at Grasse River Heritage, Master Gardener Volunteer, Mother, Grandmother, wife, Book Group Member, etc.

Hobbies:  gardening

Most recent accomplishment:  Organizing the planning and planting of two new perennial  beds at Cornell Cooperative Extension.

What has changed the most in your time at GardenShare?  We’ve sharpened our focus and energies to engage ourselves in the fight against hunger.

What has stayed the same?  The comradery and feeling that we’re all in this together.

Last read?  The Underground Girls of Kabul

If you were a superhero, what would your power be?  I’d be able to heal.

What one word would you use to describe yourself?  organized

Something about you that few people know:  I have three water gardens

What are you most proud of?  Organizing the first CROP Walk in Canton

What would I find in your refrigerator right now?  Watermelon, fresh green onions from my garden, cantaloupe, fresh eggs from my chickens, homemade dill pickles, a half-empty bottle of Pinot Grigio, assorted sodas and condiments.