Friday, July 31, 2015


As it considers reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act, Congress is evaluating how students and school districts have fared under current nutrition standards for national school meal programs as well as the snack foods and drinks sold in vending machines and on a la carte cafeteria menus. At recent hearings before a House subcommittee, representatives heard that (1)  more children are choosing and eating fruit with their lunches, and kids are consuming more of their entrees and vegetables; (2) healthy school food can satisfy all students, including athletes; and (3) Congress could help less successful programs by offering greater support for food service equipment, staff training, and technology.

Source: Pew Charitable Trust, 7/17/15, School Nutrition

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Local food is growing business in New York

Farm to school programs are helping grow local business in New York. In the state, there are over 2,944 schools spending more than $40 million on local food. These numbers show that not only is the local food movement alive and well, it is growing up and becoming a healthy, established part of the broader marketplace. Niagara Gazette 

Journal of School Health: School Gardens Enhance Academic Performance and Dietary Outcomes in Children

Schools face increasing demands to provide education on healthy living and improve core academic performance. Although these appear to be competing concerns, they may interact beneficially. This article focuses on school garden programs and their effects on students' academic and dietary outcomes. This small set of studies offers evidence that garden-based learning does not negatively impact academic performance or FV consumption and may favorably impact both. Additional studies with more robust experimental designs and outcome measures are necessary to understand the effects of experiential garden-based learning on children's academic and dietary outcomes. Read the article here

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


At a recent hearing of the National Commission on Hunger, public human services officials recommended several ways that SNAP could be made even more effective in addressing food insecurity:

  • Simplify eligibility and verification rules;
  • Improve SNAP’s connection to and interoperability with other human services and health programs;
  • eliminate the “cliff” effect that occurs when a beneficiary’s hours or pay increases;
  • reduce reliance of face-to-face interviews
  • remove participation barriers to elderly and other stable populations

Source: National Commission on Hunger, 7/8/15, SNAP Improvements

$1,500 CHS Classroom Grant Program

One teacher in the Northeast will be award a $1,500 grant to enhance agriculture in their classroom. The grant will be awarded to a K-12th grade teacher whose innovative classroom projects use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, nutrition, science, and/or social studies. 

Applications open on July 15th and the grant deadline to apply is September 15th.

Small Farmers Can Make Food Safety Work: The GroupGAP Pilot in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

This case study provides an overview of the processes, challenges, benefits, and lessons learned from the Group Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) pilot project in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The project goal was to test how a group-based farm-based food safety certification process could benefit small farmers. This pilot study confirms that good agricultural practices (GAP) certification can meet group needs at an affordable cost working with small and very small farms. Read the case study here

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Food Waste in the Rural Family Home

This video is 23 minutes long, but if you work with youth, it's worth watching!  This project from a Minnesota 4-H group emphasizes how even farm families generate food waste – and can reduce it.  They also came up some great examples of service learning projects.

AGree: Food and Agriculture Education in the United States

Food and agriculture education in the U.S. has changed dramatically over our nation’s history. Topics to study and careers to pursue go beyond production agriculture and include food and nutrition, natural resources, and information technology. The education system must be strengthened to address the challenges and opportunities facing our global food system and support the young people who will define it. A new AGree paper examines the evolution of U.S. food and ag education, its current structure, and how it must adapt to meet emerging challenges. Read the full paper here

Monday, July 27, 2015

A new video explains GardenShare's work

Advancing Farm to School: Lessons from the Field

This "Farm to School 2.0" resource is meant for those that are hoping to expand or fine-tune farm to school programming in their community. The contents reflect the experience of fourteen Wisconsin communities, as they worked to establish and strengthen farm to school efforts in their respective regions. Chapter topics range from designing a successful Harvest of the Month program to strategies for fostering farm to school program sustainability. Actionable tips and insight are provided through case studies, distilled 'lessons learned', and field-tested resource recommendations. View the resource here

Friday, July 24, 2015


The Senate Appropriations Committee has advanced a bill to fund the USDA and FDA for the next fiscal year.  The bill contains $20.5 billion in discretionary funding, including WIC.  The total is  $65 million less than the current level and $1.1 billion less than President Obama requested. The bulk of the measure contains $123.3 billion in mandatory funding, including funds for SNAP. The committee’s bill included an amendment that would relax school lunch rules on whole grain products and sodium.

Source: The Hill, 7/16/15, Senate Action

Urban-Rural Differences in Childhood and Adolescent Obesity in the United States: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

This is a systematic literature review and subsequent meta-analysis performed to investigate differences in childhood obesity between urban and rural areas in the United States. All but one study suggested that residence in rural areas was associated with higher prevalence or increased odds of childhood obesity, compared to children living in urban areas. A meta-analysis of 74,168 pooled participants ages 2–19 found that rural children have 26% greater odds of obesity, compared to urban children. Read the full study here

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Project Produce: Fruit and Veggie Grants for Schools

The Chef Ann Foundation has teamed up with Skoop, a superfoods company committed to bringing the health benefits of superfoods to every American. Together they have launched Project Produce: Fruit and Veggie Grants for Schools. These $2,500 grants assist in expanding students’ palates, and encouraging increased consumption of and exposure to fresh produce through engagement in lunchroom education activities that encourage students to taste new vegetables and fruits offered either in a dish, cooked, or raw. Learn more about the grant and find details to apply on The Lunch Box

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Grants for school gardens

CHS and National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO) are offering five $1,500 classroom grants to teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade. The funds can be used for schoolyard or classroom gardens, animal science and other projects that educate K-12 students in general education classrooms about the source of their food, fiber and fuel. The deadline for applications is Sept. 15, 2015. Learn more and apply here

Online classes in sustainable food and farming

Registration opened this week for our Fall ONLINE classes in Sustainable Food and Farming at UMass Amherst.  You may take classes individually or toward completion of the 15-credit Certificate in Sustainable Food and Farming.  Classes also will count toward our A.S. or B.S. degrees.  The classes they are offering this fall are:

 Fall Semester Classes (September 8 – December 11)

STOCKSCH 105 – Soils (GenEd; BS – 4 credits) NEW!

STOCKSCH 197 S – Plants in Our World (GenEd; BS & G – 4 credits)

STOCKSCH 297R – Raising Dairy Goats Sustainably (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 297V – Organic Vegetable Production (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 397 GF – Global Food Systems (3 credits)

And to begin planning ahead, see….

Annual Class Schedule

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


USDA is proposing to improve access to groceries for homebound seniors and people with disabilities who participate in SNAP.  For the first time, it is planning to permit government agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide grocery purchasing and delivery services to accept SNAP benefits as payment, thus allowing for home delivery to those unable to shop for food. The proposed rule outlines eligibility and participation criteria and seeks comments from stakeholders. USDA will soon begin seeking up to 20 food purchasing and delivery services to participate in a one-year pilot program.

Source: USDA, 7/13/15, SNAP Home Delivery

Monday, July 20, 2015


Only 64% of children who are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches are enrolled in the program, and only 52% participate in the school breakfast program. Participation is highest in urban areas (70%) and lags in both rural (63%) and suburban (59%) locales.  Participation in the lunch program is uniform throughout all regions, but breakfast participation in the Northeast and Midwest lags behind the South and West.

Source: Center for Law and Social Policy, 7/15/15, School Meals

Friday, July 17, 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

FRAC President Testifies in Support of SNAP

Just moments ago…

FRAC President Jim Weill shared a mountain of evidence with the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition about the critical role the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) plays in reducing hunger, alleviating poverty and supporting family economic stability for millions of Americans—including seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, families with children, both the unemployed and low-paid workers.

During his testimony, Jim underscored that time and time again, SNAP proves itself to be an example of government at its best. He cautioned what we as anti-hunger advocates already know: undermining SNAP would have devastating consequences. Rather, the Subcommittee should explore ways for making SNAP even stronger.

“SNAP is a key part of a safety net that not only reduces hunger but supports work, family stability, child development and opportunity. Damaging SNAP by building in ill-conceived changes based on misconceptions or stereotypes would result in irreparable harm to people who are trying desperately to put food on the table and to move out of poverty. SNAP is targeted and effective. It is a critical support to millions of poor and hungry people in our country.”  

Read the full testimony here (pdf)

Meat processing plans

Wouldn't it be great to keep our locally raised meat local?

Read about some plans here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

SNAP incentives at the farmers market

You may have heard a story on NCPR (more details here) about the state increasing funds for Fresh Connect, the program that provides a $2 bonus when a customer spends $5 of their SNAP benefits at a farmers market.

Unfortunately, no Fresh Connect benefits will be available at St. Lawrence County farmers markets, as we have been informed that the state is implementing a new rule that each market can have only one SNAP incentive program and our markets have the CNY Health Bucks program.

Monday, July 13, 2015


For the first time in nearly 50 years, USDA is proposing an overhaul to the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) that includes more vegetables and less sugar . The guidelines were developed with guidance by experts in order to stem rising child obesity rates. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 called for such changes. The program feeds about 3.8 million young children, and 120,000 elderly or disabled adults daily through day-care centers and senior programs.

Source: ABC News, 6/27/15,  Healthy Meals

Saturday, July 11, 2015


The House Appropriations Committee has voted out a bill that increases child nutrition funds while cutting SNAP funds.  The bill, which funds the FDA and the Department of Agriculture, contains mandatory funding for nutrition and food programs. Child nutrition programs would get $207 million above the 2015 level while SNAP would receive $184 million less than 2015 and $2 billion less than Obama’s request.

Source: The Hill, 7/8/15, Food Aid Funding

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Can you grow vegetables year-round in the North Country?

What a great story!  JCEO in Malone is not only growing fresh vegetables for food pantry clients, they now have plans to use methane from the landfill to heat a greenhouse for year-round production.

Read the full story at NCPR

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Word on Capitol Hill is that Congress is Drafting a Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill Now! Action Needed!

Three Actions to Take Today to Strengthen the Summer Nutrition Programs in Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR):

  1. Endorse The Summer Meals Act of 2015 (pdf) (S. 613, H.R. 1728) and The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2015 (pdf) (S. 1539, H.R. 2715), by signing on your organization here.*
  2. Encourage your partners and network allies to endorse these bills to demonstrate local support and to make sure that these bills are included in the final CNR.
  3. Create buzz on social media by sharing photos of your summer meal sites and tagging your Members of Congress to ask for their support of #summermeals #SummerMealsAct and a strong #CNR2015.
Some Sample Tweets to Get You Started:

  • Ask your Members of Congress to co-sponsor important #summermeals legislation, incl bi-partisan #SummerMealsAct. Visit
  • Organizations! Help reach 1500 endorsements by July 15th in support of two complementary #SummerMeals bills
  • Congress is working on #CNR2015. Visit a summer meal site to learn how important summer meals are to our children!

Visit the Advocacy Tools section of FRAC's website for more ideas on urging Congress to make good nutrition programs even better! Spread the word!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


USDA estimates that between 2014 and 2015 food security improved for the 76 countries it analyzed. It estimated the number of food-insecure people fell 9%, from 521 million in 2014 to 475 million in 2015. The share of these countries’ populations that are food insecure is expected to drop from 14.8% in 2014 to 13.4% in 2015. But over the next decade, the number of food- insecure people for the 76 countries is projected to deteriorate, as the share of population that is food insecure rises from 13.4% in 2015 to 15.1% in 2025.
Source: USDA, 6/29/15, Global Food Insecurity

Monday, July 6, 2015

Quote of the Week

"The advocacy community has done a tremendous job of educating members and bringing up important issues like the need to lower barriers to summer meals participation...But there is plenty of work still to do and I know that groups that care about health, nutrition, education, and enrichment programs will continue to make their voices heard."

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY),
The Huffington Post 


Congressional Republicans are pushing back against proposed dietary guidelines that urge Americans to consider the environment when deciding what foods to eat. House and Senate spending bills approved by subcommittees in each chamber say the guidelines must focus only on nutrition and diet. That's a clear effort to thwart a recommendation by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee that eating a diet higher in vegetables and other plant-based foods is better for the environment than eating a diet based on foods from animals. This advice from a government advisory panel of independent doctors and nutrition experts has raised the ire of the meat industry. The dietary guidelines, which come out every 5 years, informs everything from school lunches and food package labels to advice from your doctor. The Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments are expected to issue a final version by year's end based on the advisory committee's recommendations.
Source: MSN, 6/24/15, Dietary Guidelines

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Freedom from hunger?

Independence Day: No Time to Forget Hungry Vets – Public New Service, July 1, 2015

As Congress conducts a review of the SNAP Program, there are 26,000 Massachusetts veterans relying on SNAP to put food on the table. “We are worried that the SNAP program is being looked at as a potential funding source, for either tax cuts or other programs,” said Pat Baker, senior policy analyst at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. It’s crucial to remember, as Independence Day approaches, these veterans who have defended the nation’s freedom. “Many of them fall on hard times – often they’re struggling with homelessness, mental illness – they need the benefit as much as every other citizen in the country,” said Baker.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Two visions of the food system

My old friend in this field of work back in Connecticut just posted this blog entry on Two Visions of the food system.

Some of what he writes is specific to that state, but much applies to all of us!  Enjoy!


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Farm to school efforts raise funds with Barnraiser

The National Farm to School Network is partnering with Barnraiser, a crowdfunding platform dedicated to good food and farming projects, to elevate farm to school activities across the country. From school gardens in North Carolina to community cooking education in California, these projects are being funded by people who believe in the power of farm to school activities to support vibrant communities and to empower children and families to make healthy food choices.

NFSN will be a featured partner on the site with a page that aggregates farm to school crowdfunding campaigns from across the country. If you would like help initiating a crowdfunding campaign for your farm to school initiative, check out the Barnraiser Campaign Guide and/or contact Marie Sayles, Projects & Partnerships Director, at Don't forget to let us know when your project is live!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Trends with SNAP at the farmers markets

Nationwide, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants are spending more of their benefits to make purchases at roadside farm stands, farmers markets and directly from local farmers than ever before. SNAP redemptions at those outlets in 2014 totaled $18.8 million, a nearly six-fold increase since 2008.

In St. Lawrence County, when measured over that same time period, we have also seen a similar large increase in the use of SNAP benefits at our farmers markets, partly due to expansion of the program to all markets in the County.  However, when we look at just 2014 SNAP usage at farmers markets compared to 2013, there was a 28% decrease!

We are trying to understand this in order to find way to address it and help low-income families access this healthy local food while supporting local farmers.  Any and all insights and ideas are welcome!