Sunday, January 31, 2016
Young children in deep poverty, whose family income is below 50% of the federal poverty line, fare even worse on health and development indicators than children in poverty, according to a study released by the National Center for Children in Poverty. The study compared the well being of children in deep poverty to children who are poor, but not in deep poverty, and to non-poor children.
Compared to other poor children, a higher percentage of young children in deep poverty suffer from obesity and elevated blood lead levels--a serious concern associated with learning and behavior problems. The percentage of young children in deep poverty who have elevated lead levels is three times higher than the portion seen in poor children, and over 17 times higher than in non-poor children.
Source: Science 20, 1/12/16, Risk of Deep Poverty
Saturday, January 30, 2016
New research shows that the school nutrition standards that took effect between 2012 and 2015 improve the school nutrition environment and student outcomes. Since the new standards went into effect:
· Several national studies have found positive improvements to school meals.
· Some nutrition disparities between predominately white schools and large urban, presumably minority-dominant, schools have been reduced or eliminated.
· National and school district-specific studies across the country have found improvements in student nutrition outcomes.
Source: Food Research & Action Center, 1/16, School Nutrition
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Scholarships are now available for the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, a biennial event hosted by the National Farm to School Network that will convene more than 1,500 diverse stakeholders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across America. Scholarship awards will cover short course and/or registration fees for the conference, pending available funds. Costs associated with travel, lodging and field trips are not covered by the scholarship award. In order to ensure the conference reflects the full diversity of farm to cafeteria constituents, scholarships are prioritized for farmers, farmer support organizations, youth (through age 22), persons of color, food service professionals, among others. Additional preference will be given to first-time conference attendees and presenters. Representation from all regions of the country will also be taken into consideration when evaluating scholarship applicants. The application is available online at farmtocafeteriaconference.org. Applications must be received or postmarked by 5pm (EST) on February 29, 2016.
The President and the Speaker both agree that the time is ripe to expand tax cuts for low-income workers who don’t have children. And, in fact, they have nearly identical proposals to do so. Both would phase in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) more quickly as a worker’s earnings rise, raise the maximum credit to about $1,000, and lower the eligibility age from 25 to 21. These changes would make a big difference. Currently, a childless worker with poverty-level wages filing his or her taxes for 2015 would receive an EITC of $172, not nearly enough to offset the $1,188 he or she owes in income tax and the employee share of payroll taxes. The proposals would give that worker an $841 EITC, a major step towards lifting the worker back to the poverty line. All told, the proposals from Obama and Ryan would lift about half a million people out of poverty and make another 10.1 million people less poor, the Treasury estimates.
Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 1/13/16, EITC
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
How can we get more local and regional food into schools, colleges and hospitals in the Northeast? The process often involves many different parties and steps to navigate. This webinar will provide an orientation to “Setting the Table for Success: Increasing Local Food Purchasing by Institutional Food Service Management,” a brand new toolkit designed to help you understand the process of working with food service management companies to maximize opportunities to incorporate local and regional food into your menus. The toolkit is also applicable to self-operated facilities for use in setting internal goals and contracting with group purchasing organizations or directly with suppliers.Here’s the link:http://www.farmtoinstitution.org/event/setting-table-success-increasing-local-food-purchasing-institutions
The Senate Agriculture Committee has approved a bill that reauthorizes and makes some changes to child nutrition programs. The legislation, among other things:
· Gives schools two more years, until 2019, to reduce sodium levels in the meals they serve students and allows them to serve at least one bread, pasta or grain product a week that is not made up of at least 51% whole grains.
· Increases support for summer feeding programs and farm-to-school activities, including an annual $5 million increase in grants for the farm-to-school program.
· Leaves in place standards in 2010 child nutrition legislation that removed soda and most junk food from schools and upped servings of fruits and vegetables in school lunches.
· Strengthens the summer meals program through reduced administrative burden and relief of regulations that prevented local innovations.
The Committee sent the bill to the Senate floor; a vote has not yet been scheduled.
Source: Senate Agriculture Committee, 1/21/16, Child Nutrition Bill
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Bill writes clearly in his recent blog entry about different paradigms of a food system - industrial and biological.
While we are making progress, all of us who care about building a just and sustainable food system need to continue our efforts, both small scale in our own food purchasing and consumption habits and in the community through work with organizations like NOFA and GardenShare.
The new report from the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) that maintains SNAP benefits are too low and should be increased is wrong argues a researcher at the American Enterprise Institute. The data, she contends, show that SNAP eliminates hunger for the overwhelming majority of American children and leaves most recipient households with adequate food. The CEA’s claim that SNAP cannot sustain families through the end of the month overstates the problem she says. While food purchases for SNAP households do decline over the course of the month, this could be due to “short-term impatience.” In other words, households that get all their SNAP benefits at the beginning of the month spend it right away. Distributing SNAP benefits throughout the month might solve this problem, she says. And, while some argue that SNAP payments are too low to buy the USDA adequate diet on which those benefits are based, AEI suggests adjusting benefit levels only in high-food-cost areas.
Source: American Enterprise Institute, 1/20/16, SNAP Benefits
Friday, January 22, 2016
Hunger and food insecurity costs Americans over $160 billion in 2014, according to a new report from the Bread for the World Institute. Most of that price tag was attributable to conditions the authors contend are related to living in a household where access to food is problematic, such as depression, anemia, diabetes, dental caries, and delayed child development. Treatment of depression and anxiety cost over $50 billion, while additional neonatal and adult hospital stays cost about $17 billion.
Source: Bread for the World Institute, 1/16, Hunger Costs
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Despite the recent decline in SNAP participation, a recent research report from Credit Suisse analysts said that food stamps issued as a percent of total food purchased in the US skyrocketed to over 12% from less than 6% after the financial crisis. And while that number has dipped slightly to around 10% in 2015, it is still above pre-crisis levels. Record SNAP participation shows just how stressed the core consumer really is, the analysts noted. On the retail side, the fact that lower income consumers have not kept pace with the economic recovery has hurt processed food brands and businesses. "Business can't be good for brands like Chef Boyardee when its core consumers is under-employed and dramatically changing their shopping behavior," write the analysts. Their core consumers are shopping less often and reducing the amount they buy each trip.
Source: Business Insider, 1/6/16, SNAP & the Economy
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
By the time SNAP turned 50 in 2013, more than one in seven Americans received benefits at a cost of nearly $80 billion. Even as supporters and critics debate the program’s future, he social science research necessary to guide policy is still nascent. A new book, SNAP Matters, brings together top scholars to begin asking and answering the questions that matter. For example, what are the antipoverty effects of SNAP? Does SNAP cause obesity? Or does it improve nutrition and health more broadly? To what extent does SNAP work in tandem with other programs, such as school breakfast and lunch? Overall, the volume concludes that SNAP is one of the most effective antipoverty programs in the safety net, but the volume also encourages policymakers, students, and researchers to continue examining this major pillar of US social assistance.
Source: Stanford University Press, SNAP Matters
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
SNAP participation averaged 45,368,348 people in October 2015, a decrease of 29.097 compared with September 2015, and a decrease of 1,114,275 people compared with October 2014. October 2015 marked the fifth straight monthly decline in national SNAP participation. In Connecticut, over 1,500 people left SNAP between September and October 2015, while nearly 5,000 people who received SNAP in October 2014 no longer participate, a 1.2% drop. Despite growth in SNAP caseloads since the Great Recession, about one in five people eligible for SNAP still are not served.
Source: Food Research Action Center, 1/13/16, SNAP Participation
This is evidence that SNAP is doing what it was designed to do - growing when the economy is bad and need goes up, and then shrinking again as the economy improves. - Gloria
Monday, January 18, 2016
SNAP has successfully provided support to millions of Americans over its 50-plus year history. Here are four ways in which SNAP has helped families reduce food insecurity and supported the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
· SNAP reduces poverty. Research shows that SNAP helps lift people out of poverty. In 2011, an additional 3.9 million people would have fallen into poverty without SNAP. And using an alternative metric that takes government anti-poverty programs into account researchers estimated that 4.6 million people were lifted out of poverty by the purchasing power of SNAP benefits.
· SNAP reduces food insecurity. In 2014, 48.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households. But without SNAP, rates of food insecurity would be even higher: receiving SNAP reduces food insecurity by roughly 30%.
· SNAP helps vulnerable people. Close to 70% of SNAP participants are in families with children; more than 25% are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.
· SNAP supports work. The number of households in which someone worked while receiving SNAP benefits more than tripled between 2000 and 2013, reaching 7.1 million. Among households with at least one working-age, non-disabled adult, more than half work while receiving SNAP and more than 80% work in the year before or the year after receiving benefits.
Source: Urban Institute, 1/11/16, SNAP Delivers
Sunday, January 17, 2016
May be particularly relevant to us in the North Country as the students are returning...
Recent research on hunger at colleges suggests that more than half of all community-college students struggle with food insecurity. A University of Wisconsin professor of education policy and sociology last year surveyed 4,000 students at 10 community colleges across the country. Roughly half—52%—of the respondents reported marginal to very low food security. Specifically, one in five respondents had very low food security; 22% indicated that they had cut the size of their meals or skipped meals and were hungry because they didn’t have enough money for food. The professor also tracked 50 students over six years. She found that two types of students struggle with food insecurity. The first group lived in poverty before they began college; hunger and poverty is a preexisting condition for them. The second includes lower-middle class students who were forced to deal with food insecurity for the first time by their college expenses.
Source: Atlantic, 1/14/16, Hunger at College
Saturday, January 16, 2016
A recent survey of 1,000 adults by Bankrate.com found that 63% of Americans have no emergency savings to pay for a $1,000 emergency room visit or $500 car repair. In 2014, the U.S. Federal Reserve released survey results from more than 4,000 adults and found, “Savings are depleted for many households after the recession.” Another survey of 1,000 adults last year by GOBankingRates.com found that 62% of Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account (not including retirement or other investment accounts). More than four in 10 Americans either experienced a major unexpected expense over the past 12 months or had an immediate family member who had an unexpected expense, Bankrate found. Why aren’t people saving? Millions of Americans continue to struggle with student loans, medical bills, and other debts.
Source: MarketWatch, 1/6/16, Emergency
Friday, January 15, 2016
Invest An Acre is a program that encourages farmers across the country to donate any portion of their crop proceeds to help fight hunger in their own communities. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation created the program. Partners in the program include: ADM, Monsanto, Cargill, Farm Credit Services of America, AgriBank, MFA and a growing number of cooperatives and elevators. Farmers' donations are matched 100% by Monsanto doubling the impact. Visit our website at www.investanacre.org to learn more or donate!
New research shows that the tougher school nutrition standards adopted in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are working—students are actually eating healthier meals in school. The analysis by University of Washington researchers compared the food students bought during the 16 months of school before the change in school lunch nutritional rules to the purchases they made during the following 15 months. It found that the nutritional quality of the students’ 1.7 million meals--specifically their calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, fiber and protein content--increased 29%, while caloric content per gram decreased 13% due to the changes.
Source: Huffington Post, 1/4/16, Healthier School Meals
Thursday, January 14, 2016
In NYS SNAP time limits were reinstated on January 1 and could mean the loss of SNAP for over 53,000 of our lowest-income residents. Hunger Solutions New York has created a dedicated webpage for community organizations working with SNAP recipients and/or applicants. This webpage contains a variety of tools and resources including a webinar recording, policy update, a checklist to determine if an individual is exempt from the time limits, and more. This website will continue to be updated with new materials and resources as they become available.
Visit the Webpage
Visit the Webpage
More and more people are being priced out of cities because of skyrocketing rents—says new research from Harvard. Between 2001 and 2014, real rents rose 7% while household incomes fell by 9%. In combination, these trends pushed the number of renters who spend more than 30% of their income for housing (burdened) up from 14.8 million to a new high of 21.3 million. Even worse, the number of these households who pay more than half of their income for housing (severely burdened) jumped from 7.5 million to 11.4 million, also setting a record. Overall, 49% of renters were burdened in 2014, including 26% with severe burdens. The consequences to those who are severely burdened are far-reaching. In 2014, low-income households who spent more than half their incomes for housing spent 38% less on food and 55% less on healthcare.
Source: Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, 12/9/15, Renters' Budgets
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
The 5th Annual Soil and Nutrition Conference in Stockbridge, MA will feature two days of plenary sessions and workshops exploring relationships between soil health, plant health and human health. Sixteen workshops scheduled Feb 8-9 will cover an array of best practices in regenerative agriculture including biological management and permaculture, with choices including:
To learn more and register, please visit the conference web page at http://www.bionutrient.org/soil-and-nutrition-conference
- Building a Climate Resilience Plan for Your Farm (Laura Lengnick, PhD)
- Epigenetics and the Science of Nutrition and Lifestyle Change (Dr. Mark Pettus)
- Fostering Soil Microbial Communities for Fertility & Plant Growth (Jill Clapperton, PhD)
- Maximizing Small Area Production with “Crowding” Techniques (Will Bonsall)
- Maximizing Seed Quality and Vigor for Better Yields (John Kempf)
- Assessing Crop Quality throughout the Growing Season: Brix & Beyond! (Matt Kleinhenz, PhD)
- Integrating Permaculture and Biological Farming for Small Plot Productivity (Jonathan Bates)
- Proven Practices for No-Till and Low-Till Veggie Production (Dan Kittredge)
- Be Your Own Soil Balancing Consultant: Soil Tests & Mineral Math (David Forster)
- Soil Health Metrics for the Biological Farmer (Carmen Ugarte, PhD)
- Mid-Season Corrections: A Guide to Foliar Spraying (Derek Christianson)
- Prompting Plant Quality Changes through Soil Inoculation (Kevin Panke-Buisse, PhD)
- Please visit www.bionutrient.org/sn2016 for the complete program.
To learn more and register, please visit the conference web page at http://www.bionutrient.org/soil-and-nutrition-conference
When the Senate returns from its winter recess, reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act will be the Senate Agriculture Committee’s first order of business, according to its leaders, Pat Roberts of Kansas and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. The committee will meet this month to begin marking up a bill to renew laws that govern the school lunch, breakfast, and summer meals programs, among others.
Source: Senate Agriculture Committee, 12/18/15, Child Nutrition Programs
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
More than 500,000 of the nation’s poorest people will be cut off SNAP over the course of 2016 due to the return in 23 states of a three-month limit on SNAP benefits for unemployed adults aged 18-49 who aren’t disabled or raising minor children. Federal law limits these individuals to three months of SNAP out of every three years unless they’re working or participating in a work training program at least 20 hours a week or participating in workfare. States can request a federal waiver of this time limit in areas of high unemployment, but these statewide waivers are largely expiring as unemployment falls, leaving most states eligible for waivers only counties with high unemployment.
Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 1/5/16, SNAP Time Limits
Monday, January 11, 2016
GardenShare's Annual Local Food Guide is the premier source for information about food grown in St. Lawrence County. The comprehensive listing of local farmers, farmstands, farmers markets, u-picks, and businesses that focus on local food is a must have for all interested in buying local.
Production of the 2016 Guide is now underway.
Get In the Guide!
The deadline to get into this year's Local Food Guide is February 19!
AD RATES and information are available here.
TO BE LISTED, send in your listing form! If you are a SLC farm or business that sells local food, you should receive a form in the mail soon. If it doesn't arrive, give us a call so we can get you in there - 315-261-8054.
Don't miss these opportunities to be in St. Lawrence County's comprehensive guide to local food, farmstands, farmers' markets and food assistance programs!
Photo contest for cover of Local Food Guide
Got a great, high-quality photo that could illustrate the local food guide? Send it to email@example.com by February 19 to be entered in a contest to be on the cover of the 2016 Guide!
The National Commission on Hunger issued it final report to Congress at the end of 2015. Ten of its numerous recommendations, with accompanying action items, focused on SNAP:
- Encourage a greater focus on job placement, job training, and career development among SNAP recipients, and ensure necessary supports and infrastructure to facilitate finding work.
- Ensure SNAP eligibility encourages work by improving responsiveness to earned-income fluctuations.
- Encourage the use of financial incentives to SNAP recipients to facilitate the purchase of fruits, vegetables, high-quality proteins, whole grains, and other healthy foods.
- Exclude a carefully defined class of sugar-sweetened beverages from the list of allowable purchases with SNAP benefits.
- Use evidence-based product placement strategies that encourage purchase of healthy products with SNAP benefits, and tie it to SNAP eligibility for stores.
- Reform SNAP Nutrition Education (SNAP-Ed) to ensure that efforts are likely to lead to measurable improvements in the health of SNAP recipients.
- Continue to promote and facilitate greater coordination of means-tested programs across federal and state agencies and provide state incentives for establishing a “no wrong door” approach between SNAP and non-nutrition family support programs.
- The USDA should use its current flexibility to the greatest extent possible to support state innovations that would help clients to become more food secure and more self-sufficient, and should approve or disapprove these requests within 90 days of submission.
- Create mechanisms for improved training for front-line SNAP caseworkers to maintain a customer service perspective that facilitates best practices of case management.
- Support the wellbeing of families that have members who serve or have served in the U.S. Military.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
Low wages, followed by poverty and high housing costs were the chief causes of hunger cited by officials in the 22 cities surveyed in the U.S. Conference of Mayors 33rd annual assessment of hunger and homelessness. Two-thirds of the cities reported increased requests for emergency food assistance this year over last. People in families represented 67% of those who asked for emergency food, 42% were employed, 23% were elderly, and 10% were homeless. Despite increasing their budgets for emergency food assistance by 7.2%, in nearly half the 22 reporting cities, emergency kitchens and food pantries had to reduce the quantity of food they could offer, and in over half, facilities had to turn away people because they lacked resources. The reporting cities also estimated that 23% of the demand for emergency food help was unmet.
Source: U.S. Conference of Mayors, 12/22/15, Hunger in Cities
Friday, January 8, 2016
The federal government has introduced new dietary guidelines that set the standard for federal food programs such as school lunches and SNAP. The new standards recommend that most people get 2,300 mg of salt a day or less; the average American gets 3,400 mg a day. And, for the first time, the guidelines recommend limiting added sugar to 10 percent or less of calories. They also recommend that people eat more fruit, vegetables and whole wheat. While the new guidelines mention that cholesterol in food isn't necessarily harmful--it doesn't directly raise blood cholesterol--they say people should eat as little cholesterol as possible. The new guidelines also say that caffeine and alcohol appear to be safe in limited amounts, but say no one should start drinking either if they do not do so already.
Source: NBC News, 1/7/16, New Diet Guidelines
The Lead2Feed Challenge was created by the Foundation for Impact on Literacy and Learning and the Lift a Life Foundation, with assistance from the Yum! Foundation, to encourage middle and high school students to hone their leadership skills by completing a service-learning project that addresses hunger or other community need.
Teams of students in grades 7 to 12 in a public, private, or charter middle school or high school are invited to enter the challenge. Each team must comprise at least three students and a sponsoring teacher or adult advisor. Students must be a legal resident of the United States or Guam, a full-time student between the ages of 13 and 18, and a member of a local club or service organization such as the Boys & Girls club or a scout troop.
Each team must create and execute a service learning project to raise awareness of world hunger by setting a goal that attempts to solve a local, statewide, or national hunger-related issue (i.e., help an existing charity or create a project in its community whose mission is to address or solve hunger related problems locally or nationally); developing an action plan to achieve that goal; and demonstrating leadership. Each entry must include a written summary or video overview of the project and quantifiable results (i.e., number of meals served, cans collected, hours of service donated, Facebook “likes,” families served from an urban garden, etc.).
First-, second-, and third-place prizes of $25,000, $5,000, and $1,000, respectively, will be awarded, for a total amount of up to $275,000.
See the World Hunger Leadership Challenge website for complete challenge guidelines and application procedures.
Thursday, January 7, 2016
4th Annual North Country Jr. Iron Chef is Coming!
Registration Closes January 15th
Space is limited, don't delay!
teams of 3 to 5 middle or high school age youth
healthy recipes using a combination of Local & USDA commodity foods
against teams from Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis & St. Lawrence counties
March 12, 2016 at
A.A.K. Middle School, Potsdam
Check out event guidelines,
see pictures and videos,
& browse cookbooks at
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Do YOU want to increase your knowledge and professional skills in agricultural risk management through goal setting, networking among farm colleagues and industry professionals to meet goals, and discovering their personality type and how it affects working with others?
Annie’s Project is a business planning and risk management training for farm women focused on:
• Farm business planning
• Financial statements
• Record keeping
• Software training
• Agricultural production
• Employee relations
• Estate planning
To find the site closest to you offering this series, please visit this link.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
The mission of the Farmer Veteran Coalition is to cultivate a new generation of farmers and food leaders and develop viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. The coalition believes that veterans possess the unique skills and character needed to strengthen rural communities and create sustainable food systems. We believe that agriculture offers purpose, opportunity, and physical and psychological benefits.
Through the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, the coalition provides direct assistance to veterans starting out in farming or ranching. The fund does not give money directly to the veteran but rather to a third-party vendor for any items that will make a critical difference in the launch of a young farm business.
Since it began in April, 2011, the fund has provided more than $800,000 to 150 fellows in more than 35 states, and it expects to award more than $300,000 in 2016.
In addition to monetary awards, the fellowship provides support in the form of guidance with respect to production, business planning, and marketing. Awards are also made in the form of scholarships for coursework in agriculture at a college, university, or farm-training program.
To be eligible, applicants must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, currently be on active-duty or serving in the military reserve/National Guard; be members of FVC; and have an honorable discharge (other characters of discharge may be accepted on a case-by-case basis). In addition, applicants must have an agricultural business in operation; be willing to fully participate in the fellowship program (which includes reporting progress, mentoring aspiring veteran farmers, and the possibility of representing FVC at events); and have a desire to continue to serve others and make a positive impact on the farmer veteran community.
For complete program guidelines and application instructions, visit the FVC website.
Monday, January 4, 2016
The Karma for Cara Foundation is a nonprofit founded by 21-year-old Cara Becker and her family while she was undergoing treatment for leukemia at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. Cara and her two brothers began volunteering at a young age as part of their family’s commitment to community service. She and her family saw a tremendous need to help support other patients and their families who were also challenged by cancer. Tragically, Cara passed four months after her diagnosis, yet her wish to help others through K4C lives on with the support of an ever-growing circle of family and friends.
As part of an effort to promote and support youth voluntarism, k4C started a microgrant program in fall 2014 to encourage kids 18 and under to apply for a grant of between $250 and $1,000 to complete service projects in their communities. Examples of fundable projects include but are not limited to turning a vacant lot into a community garden, rebuilding a school playground, and helping senior citizens get their homes ready for winter. Grants will be distributed as gift cards to home goods stores, office supply stores, grocery food chains, and toy stores.
For complete program guidelines, profiles of previous projects, and application instructions, visit the Karma for Cara Foundation website.