Saturday, October 31, 2015

Understanding the Connections: Food Insecurity and Obesity

This brief (pdf) from FRAC highlights recent research on food insecurity and obesity, and then explores why food insecurity and obesity can co-exist.

While food insecurity and obesity can co-exist in the same individual, family, or community, the research on whether there is a statistically significant relationship provides mixed results. A number of research studies in the U.S. and abroad have found positive associations between food insecurity and overweight or obesity. Other studies have found no relationship, or even a lower risk of overweight or obesity with food insecurity. Associations, or lack thereof, often differ by gender, age, and/or race-ethnicity. Making comparisons across studies is further complicated by differences in study design, measures of weight and food security status, and sample size and characteristics. Overall, based on several reviews of the literature, the strongest and most consistent evidence is for a higher risk of obesity among food insecure women.

That food insecurity and obesity can co-exist and are significantly associated in some studies does not necessarily mean they are causally linked to each other. Both food insecurity and obesity can be independent consequences of low income and the resulting lack of access to enough nutritious food or stresses of poverty. More specifically, obesity among food insecure people – as well as among low-income people – occurs in part because they are subject to the same often challenging cultural changes as other Americans (e.g., more sedentary lifestyles, increased portion sizes), and also because they face unique challenges in adopting and maintaining healthful behaviors, including the following:

  • Limited resources
  • Lack of access to healthy, affordable foods
  • Cycles of food deprivation and overeating
  • High levels of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Fewer opportunities for physical activity
  • Greater exposure to marketing of obesity-promoting products
  • Limited access to health care   

Friday, October 30, 2015

Local food and food prices

A guest blog entry today from Dan Kent, quoted from his Kent Family Growers CSA newsletter:

"I have been getting a steady drip of shocking pricing information from farmers markets around the country this Fall. From the already mentioned $1.50/lb. watermelons at the Santa Monica Farmers Market and $7/lb. tomatoes in Rochester, to $3.50/lb. potatoes at the Saranac Lake Farmers Market and just this weekend, from my mother who is visiting a friend in Seattle, $7 each for Romanesco Cauliflower.  From the vantage point of Lisbon, NY, we hear of these prices and swoon to think of how different things must be in these places for customers to pay such prices. (We also look aghast in the direction of the Amish roadside stands around St. Lawrence County where a quart of strawberries or a dozen ears of sweet corn sells for $2.50.)

"This issue of pricing has a big role to play in the nationwide conversation on the future of the local food movement. A report released recently by Food and Water Watch, a D.C. based non-profit, claims that while local foods of all types appear to be gaining popularity every year, this has not served to reduce demand for industrially produced food one bit. In fact, American industrial Ag has grown tremendously. "The number of dairy cows being raised on factory farms doubled between 1997 and 2012; broiler chickens in CAFOs rose by 80 percent; and industrial hogs swelled by a third.", writes James McWilliams in his article "Our Failed Food Movement" from last week's Pacific Standard. McWilliams observes that the local food folks have been trying to play the game of providing a higher quality version of industrially produced foods at a higher price, but that the number of consumers who decide that the higher price is justified by the higher quality remains a small number. Local food will likely never be able to compete with big ag on price, and maybe remaining niche is a prudent strategy. As I see it, maintaining a (relatively) small number of small scale, quality and service oriented farm businesses (with the help of folks like you) seems like the only possibility until the variables in the global equation of economy and fashion are changed by unforeseen events.  McWilliams however, says that we can change the equation now if we begin to dis-incentivize the production and consumption of meat. We'll have to pick that topic up in another newsletter . . . maybe."

WPBS promotes buying local

The WPBS-TV Explore the Region:  Buy it Local Auction is a good chance to promote locally produced products and the buy local movement.

For more information on donating your items please contact
Peggy A. Brouty at 315-782-3142 ext. 301 or email her at

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fund-a-Farmer Grants

Fund-a-Farmer is currently accepting applications for the 2016 round of grant funding. The
grants target working, independent, family farmers who raise pigs, broiler chickens, laying hens,
turkeys, dairy cows and/or beef cattle, and prioritize projects that transition farms to being
pasture-based or that improve existing pasture.. Applications will only be considered from farms
already considered highly welfare-oriented as determined by holding one of the following
certifications for their animals or actively working toward one of these certifications: AGA
certified grassfed, certified humane, USDA certified organic, animal welfare approved, certified
naturally grown, or Global Animal Partnership levels 4-5+.
Deadline: November 3, 2015 (online only)

Research re: subsistence agriculture in the Adirondacks

A fourth year student at Paul Smith's College is working on a capstone research project for a sustainability class with a focus on food security in the Adirondacks. The research project involves looking at the impact of subsistence agriculture/home gardening on food security in the Adirondacks. The research is being done via a short survey to gather information about subsistence agriculture/home gardening. A link to the survey is below, if you would like to help this student with his project. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


In its Action Plan to End Hunger in America, the Food Research Action Council looks at the current state of the US economy and the persistence of hunger within it.  It identifies eight essential strategies for decisively attacking hunger in America. They are:
  1. Create jobs, raise wages, increase opportunity, and share prosperity;
  2. Improve government income-support programs for struggling families;
  3. Strengthen SNAP;
  4. Strengthen Child Nutrition Programs;
  5. Target supports to especially vulnerable populations;
  6. Work with states, localities, and nonprofits to expand and improve participation in federal nutrition programs;
  7. Make sure all families have convenient access to reasonably priced, healthy food; and
  8. Build political will.

Source: Food Research Action Council, 10/7/15,End Hunger

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Food insecurity is an everyday struggle for some California State University students. Lacking the money to feed themselves properly, some students often worry more about eating than their grades. Cal State Long Beach recently received a $100,000 grant to study how each of CSU’S 23 campuses deal with student food insecurity and homelessness. Humboldt State University is helping food insecure students through Oh SNAP!, which has helped eligible students sign up for SNAP benefits since 2013. Last fall Oh SNAP! opened a campus food pantry to create better access to healthy foods for food-insecure students. Since its opening, over 2,000 students have visited the pantry. Starting this fall, about 100 students a week have been getting free fruits and vegetables at Oh SNAP!’s weekly farm stand thanks to a $5,000 donation to purchase produce from a local farm.

Source: The Lumberjack, 10/7/15, Hungry Students

(I recently heard a well respected St. Lawrence County resident say he had been on food stamps when he was a student! - Gloria)

Monday, October 19, 2015

24 Commentaries on Race in Food System Work

It is no secret that despite the best intentions of many, the food movement manifests levels of whiteness and privilege that tend to exclude significant parts of society, and thus does not address the needs of those who are excluded. To be effective in addressing issues like food insecurity, urban agriculture, food policy, small and new farmer expansion, and access to farmland, markets, and capital, organizations need to address lack of racial equity and lack of diversity in organizational leadership. The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) has just posted a compilation of 24 commentaries on race and ethnicity in food systems work. This is available without a subscription here

Friday, October 16, 2015

Farm Credit launches Fresh Perspectives

As Farm Credit enters its 100th year of service to rural communities and agriculture, it has launched a new effort to champion the women, men and youth, whose insights and influence are ensuring thriving rural communities for years to come. The Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives program will seek out and celebrate 100 visionaries – the entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders who are shaping the future of agriculture and the fabric of our nation. To recognize the diverse ways individuals are contributing to the future success of rural communities, nominations will be accepted in ten categories, including youth leadership, agricultural education and community impact, and rural and urban connection. Ten exceptional leaders, one in each category, will each receive a $10,000 award to help further their contributions to thriving rural communities and agriculture. Nominations can be submitted until Dec. 18, 2015. Learn more here.


State TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) programs too often fall far short of their potential. Barriers to access, underfunded services, and work requirements that do not take the needs of infants into account hold parents back and make it harder for them to lift themselves and their babies out of poverty. For example, in 11 states, parents of infants under the age of one are subject to work requirements and could lose their entire family’s cash assistance benefit the first time they fail to meet work requirements. A new paper, grounded in the research about infant development and detailed data about TANF families and state policy options, provides a framework for state leaders for redesigning TANF. These ideas include:
      removing barriers that prevent pregnant women and parents of babies from accessing cash assistance;
      redesigning work requirements to reflect the needs of infants and the realities of today’s low-wage labor market;
      ensuring access to quality child care; and
      building linkages to other programs and services, such as early childhood home visiting, health care, and nutritional supports.

Source: Center for Law and Social Policy, 10/6/15, TANF Redesign

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Grants for school gardens

Annie’s offers grants for school gardens that connect children directly to real food. These funds can be used to buy gardening tools, seeds or other needed supplies. 30 schools will receive $2,500 and three schools will receive $5,000. The deadline to apply to Annie’s 2015 Grants for Gardens program is December 4, 2015 at 11:59 PM (PST). Winners will be selected and notified in February 2016. Learn more and apply here.


On a typical school day in October 2014, over 30 million U.S. schoolchildren went through the lunch line. 72% received their meals for free or paid a reduced price, while the remaining 28% bought a full-price lunch. In recent years, the share of children paying full price has declined significantly, falling from 40% in FY 2008 to 28% in FY 2014. This drop partly reflects the growing number of students certified for free and reduced-price meals following the 2007-09 recession. But it also reflects the fact that fewer students who are not eligible for free or reduced-price meals are buying school lunches. USDA attributes the decline to a combination of factors—both economic and policy changes. These include rising food prices, reduced reimbursement, and updated requirements for foods and nutrients as well as new rules for revenues that must be obtained for paid meals.

Source: USDA, 10/6/15, School Lunch Participation

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


SNAP and WIC have greatly improved low-income families’ access to food, but they could do more to promote healthier nutritional choices and combat obesity and their beneficiaries. SNAP recipients need more education and incentives when it comes to making healthy food choices and more information about nutritional content and lower prices for healthier foods like fruits and vegetables, which could be done through technology and social media. Innovations in EBT technology could be harnessed to help participants make healthier choices and track their food purchases. Another approach might be to distribute SNAP benefits several times a month rather than just once.

Source: Huffington Post, 10/8/15, SNAP & Obesity

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Plan to end hunger released

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has released a Plan of Action to End Hunger in America.

The strategies outlined in the plan offer concrete solutions, which can be achieved with renewed political will, for addressing hunger and its root cause, poverty, Federal nutrition programs alone cannot carry the burden. Unless employment levels and wages rise substantially, and wor-
king schedules, benefits, and work supports improve, we cannot solve hunger.

From the plan:  “We have no excuses for leaving hungry Americans behind. There is a clear path to eliminate hunger in this country and create a much healthier, better educated, and more productive society with greater opportunity and commitment to our common ethical, moral, and religious aspirations.”

FRAC releases "Plan of Action to End Hunger in America" – FRAC, October 7, 2015


Although USDA data show that over 95% of schools are meeting new school nutrition standards to cut back on sugar and sodium in foods and add more fruit and vegetables, some schools have asked Congress to delay some of the rules. School officials, public health advocates, and even former military officials say this move would set back efforts to fight childhood obesity. USDA is helping schools meet the standards by partnering schools that are doing well with those that are not. In addition, the department has provided $98 million to help schools buy equipment and pay for training. But the latest USDA data show that about $28 million of the money remains unspent. It is unclear why states are not spending money.

Source: New York Times, 10/7/15, School Nutrition Standards

Monday, October 12, 2015

GardenShare's first Fight Hunger 5K a success!

Thank you to everyone who made this first-time event a success!  It was a beautiful, if cool, day in Potsdam on Saturday, and we had about 50 runners/walkers join us for the GardenShare Fight Hunger 5K.  By the time we left, we had raised $6,724 to support GardenShare's mission to solve the problem of hunger in St. Lawrence County.

Everyone here - Board of Directors, volunteers, and staff - is thrilled with these results!  Thanks goes out to the great volunteer committee who planned the event, the coporate sponsors, all of the runners and walkers and their donors, and the amazing volunteers who came out to help on Saturday.

Here's just a sampling of some of our photos from the morning!

The great group of volunteers, many Clarkson students, ready to go to work!

Runners making their way back to Ives Park

Walkers included both 2 legged and 4 legged!
Walkers included Dede Scozzafava, Gloria McAdam, and Chris and Laura Rediehs
Thank you to our event sponsors!


SNAP participation increased slightly from May to June
, but dropped by nearly 1 million people from June 2014. About 45,510,153 people received SNAP benefits in June 2015. Participation declined in 38 states and the District of Columbia between June 2014 and June 2015. Participation in New York State has remained about the same over the past year; but still, over 3 million NY residents were receiving SNAP in June 2015!  2,603 St. Lawrence County residents were receiving SNAP benefits in June, compared to 2,641 in June of last year, a 1.5% decrease.

Source: Food Research Action Council, 10/6/15, SNAP Participation

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fight Hunger 5K is tomorrow!

Tomorrow's the day!  This event has already raised over $4,000!  We hope that people will turn in donations tomorrow that will bring it over $5,000!

Are you joining us to run or walk in the Fight Hunger 5K?

If you can't be there in person, you can always go here and make a donation!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

USDA Grants announced

USDA recently awarded nearly $35 million in new funding through four grant programs to support local and regional food systems, including farmers markets. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service awarded $13.3 million in Farmers Market Promotion Grants to 164 marketing and promotion projects involved with farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture, and other direct-to-consumer outlets for local food.  

GardenShare is pleased to announce we received one of these grants, for $57,500 to support our work to promote Farmers Markets in St. Lawrence County to SNAP recipients.

Stay tuned for more information as we start to implement this grant!

SNAP Kept 4.7 Million Americans Out of Poverty Last Year

This blog by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities highlights the effectiveness of SNAP in keeping families out of poverty.

Read the Center's Blog

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Food insecurity update following the recession

This latest Policy Action Brief from Children's HealthWatch details new research on the impact the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit rollback in November 2013 had on food insecurity among families with young children. These findings confirm that the amount of the monthly SNAP benefit matters, and the SNAP rollback had a measurable, negative effect on household and child food insecurity.

Read the policy action brief and watch the video:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Food Day Youth Summit registration deadline this week!

The North Country Food Day Youth Summit is coming up soon, on October 22.

This day-long conference on food and agriculture issues is geared to high school students, who come to the event as a team and develop an action project to implement back in their own communities.

The event is not far off, but the registration deadline is Thursday, October 8, so get in touch and get those registrations in soon!

Nutrition standards for school lunches

32 million children depend on the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs to provide them with meals each day, writes Dr. Jane Chiang, senior vice president for Medical and Community Affairs at the American Diabetes Association. With so many children relying on school meals, she notes, it is important for Congress to uphold the nutrition standards found in the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. “[I]t’s the job of Congress to protect, not strike down, the standards already in place,” writes Dr. Chiang. “Failure to do so can have serious consequences for the health of our nation’s children. The best way to prevent childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes in children is to promote healthy eating at an early age.

Don’t Weaken Nutrition Standards for School Meals – The Hill, September 25, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fight Hunger 5K this weekend!

GardenShare's first Fight Hunger 5K is this weekend and we hope you are planning to join us!
Whether you walk, run, push the kids in a stroller, or pull them in a wagon, this will be a great day for all to support GardenShare's mission of solving hunger in St. Lawrence County.

Saturday, October 10, 2015
Potsdam Farmers Market, Ives Park, Main Street
Registration starts at 8:30
Runners leave at 9:30, with walkers to follow

This is a fun run and walkathon - there are no minimums to take part, we just ask that you make a donation and ask others to donate to support you.  Those who raise $50 or more will get a Fight Hunger 5K t-shirt.

Go here for more details and registration information.

Thank you to our sponsors who are helping to make this event a success:

Presenting sponsor

T-shirt sponsor

Partnership sponsor:

Conboy, McKay, Bachman, & Kendall, LLP

Friend sponsors:

The Clarkson Inn


Nearly half of the vegetables and legumes available in the U.S. in 2013 were either tomatoes or potatoes, according to USDA. Lettuce came in third. But the vegetables that are available don't really match what we're supposed to be eating—federal dietary guidelines prescribe a varied mix that includes dark leafy greens, orange and yellow vegetables, and beans—along with all those potatoes and tomatoes. Although the USDA report focuses on the limited variety of vegetables available to American shoppers, other agency data suggest that the country simply doesn't offer enough vegetables, period. A 2010 study estimated that the U.S. vegetable supply would need to increase by 70% — almost entirely in dark leafy greens, orange vegetables and legumes — in order for Americans to meet recommended daily allowances.

Source: NPR, 9/19/15, Vegetables

Saturday, October 3, 2015


The federally funded Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides over 1 million meals a year for children in Head Start programs, family day care, child care centers, homeless shelters, and afterschool programs. Children who received CACFP meals were 28% less likely to be in fair or poor health, 26% less likely to be hospitalized, and significantly more likely to have a healthy weight and height for their age than children whose meals were supplied from home. A recent study among found that CACFP participation increased consumption of milk and vegetables, and reduced the prevalence of overweight and underweight among low-income preschoolers. CACFP is up for reauthorization this year as part of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act. Several changes are being proposed to improver the program including Increasing reimbursement rates, allowing three meals a day, and reducing area eligibility tests in order to streamline access to the program.

Source: Children’s Health Watch, 9/18/15, CACFP

Friday, October 2, 2015


The detailed tabulations in USDA’s annual hunger report suggest that lack of food in not the main cause of food insecurity, poverty is. Food insecurity is actually higher for low-income households that received SNAP benefits or emergency food from food pantries. The rate of food insecurity was 54% for low-income households that received SNAP benefits and only 25% for low-income households that did not receive SNAP benefits. Similarly, the rate of food insecurity was 69% for low-income households that received emergency food from food pantries and only 27% for low-income households that did not. For a low-income family—especially one juggling responsibilities for children, or health care problems, or multiple jobs – almost no amount of SNAP benefits at the start of the month would be enough to prevent episodes of insecurity by the end.

Source: Politico, 9/15, Food Insecurity or Poverty

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mark food day with the local food challenge

Food Day is coming...

Take a deeper dive into your food sources by doing the 10-Day Local Food Challenge in October. For 10 days, eat food grown within 100 miles of your home. Click here to find out how you can do the Challenge.

Updates from Washington

Federal Budget: Wednesday, September 30, Congress voted on a short-term spending bill (CR) to keep the government funded through December 11, 2015. All federal nutrition programs will continue to operate as usual through December 11, 2015. There should be no interruption in SNAP benefits and all commodity (USDA), child nutrition, and seniors programs will continue operating under current law. Additionally, the CR included a provision that should allow SNAP benefits to be funded through the entire month of January. This should hopefully remove the prospect of delayed benefits should a timely agreement to fund the government beyond December 11, 2015, not be reached and provide a cushion to ensure SNAP benefits can continue to be paid if a shutdown occurs at that point.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization: Unfortunately, Congress was not able to reauthorize the Child Nutrition bill before the deadline of September 30. The programs will continue to operate under current law, however, it is critical that Congress completes the reauthorization bill as soon as possible.


More than 48.1 million Americans lived in households that were struggling against hunger in 2014, according to new data from USDA. The 2014 numbers were a slight decline (of fewer than a million people) from 2013, with the rate declining from 15.8 to 15.4%. Other findings from the USDA report include:

      The number of individuals in households that faced the deepest struggles with hunger – “very low food security” – was 5.5% in 2014.
      15.3 million children lived in food insecure households in 2014, compared to 15.8 million in 2013.
      Households in more rural areas are seeing considerably deeper struggles with hunger compared to those inside metropolitan areas, with higher rates of food insecurity (17.1% compared to 13.5%), higher rates of food insecurity in households with children (23.6% compared to 18.4%), and higher rates of very low food security (7.3% compared to 5.3%).
      Food insecurity rates for Black and Hispanic households were substantially above the national average, with 26.1% of Black households and 22.4% of Hispanic households reporting being food insecure in 2014.

Source: Food Research Action Council, 9/9/15, Food Insecurity 2014; Poverty & Policy, 9/24/15, Food Insecurity II