Monday, October 31, 2016
Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County recognized GardenShare with the 2016 Friend of Extension Award at the Association's Annual Dinner Meeting on October 13th. Extension Director, Patrick Ames, sited Gardenshare's unwavering commitment to fight hunger and improve local access to healthy foods across St. Lawrence County.
Pictured from left to right is Patrick Ames, Carol Pynchon, Gardenshare Board President, Carlene Doane, GardenShare Associate Director and Sandy Stauffer, GardenShare Board Member.
Pictured from left to right is Patrick Ames, Carol Pynchon, Gardenshare Board President, Carlene Doane, GardenShare Associate Director and Sandy Stauffer, GardenShare Board Member.
41.1 million: The estimated number of potential trick-or-treaters in 2015 — children ages 5 to 14 — across the U.S.
37,128: The number of people employed by U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2014. This industry’s value of shipments totaled $16.0 billion, up from $15.2 billion in 2013.
17,815: The number of people employed by U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced nonchocolate confectionary products. This industry’s value of shipments totaled $8.2 billion in 2014.
40,900: The number of acres of pumpkins harvested in the U.S. in 2015, with a total estimated production value of $90.2 million. Of the top six pumpkin-producing states, Illinois led the country by producing an estimated 318.0 million pounds of this vined gourd, followed by California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and New York.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
Study Sustainable Food and Farming at UMass Amherst
Registration is now open for our winter online classes in Sustainable Food and Farming. These college credits may be used to meet the requirements for our 15-credit Certificate or our 60-credit fully online Associate of Sciences degree in Sustainable Food and Farming. UMass credits also transfer to other colleges.
Here are the courses we are offering during the 4-week winter term.
Winter Term ( )
- STOCKSCH 100 – Botany for Gardeners
- STOCKSCH 119 – Backyard Homesteading
- STOCKSCH 297 FL – Intro to Food and Agricultural Law (new)
- STOCKSCH 355 – Community Food Systems
- STOCKSCH 354 – Non-profit Management for Community Food Programs
- STOCKSCH 397FV – Post-harvest Handling of Fruits and Vegetables
Friday, October 28, 2016
A guest blog post today from SLU student, Julia Callahan, who has been interning at GardenShare this fall, on the last day for the Canton Farmers Market...
"Fridays are for farming and the farmers market. After a morning of harvesting a littleGrasse Foodworks bounty for the Friday CSA share, I hop on my two wheels and head to meet Jen at the farmers market. I delight in the transition of a harvest morning into an afternoon of vibrant vegetable displays, the farmers who created it, and the people who come to interact with their farmers and vegetables. It is weekly reminder of the importance of the North Country Community.
"I have been working at the farmers markets on Fridays through a Gardenshare internship. My job is to convert SNAP benefits or debit/credit money into EBT chips or 5$ debit/credit coins. This transaction has allowed me to interact with many people who share in the same appreciation for the farmers markets. When you choose to go to the farmers market, you are choosing an experience. When you exchange money for a butternut squash or a bundle of kale, you are buying a dinner that will be thoughtfully prepared and very humbly eaten. Gardenshare allows for the farmers market to be a CHOICE and an option for people due to the doubling of SNAP benefits. Because of this, the market can be accessible to a spectrum of community members.
"I remember one day I turned to Jen after a pleasant conversation with a community member and thought 'No one is ever upset or stressed or rude at the farmers market.' This space, created by a community of farmers, volunteers, and community members who support it, fosters such a positive environment. I love when people come back to the tent, elated by a purchase of a quart of ground cherry tomatoes, or bag donuts, or some white raspberries and we can share in this excitement. I understand! I get excited about good vegetables too! These are a few of my favorite farmers market things!"
Thursday, October 27, 2016
A guest blog entry today, from Dan Kent of Kent Family Growers, with some thoughts on farming...
"Words are perceived to be stolen sometimes. Some small farmers feel that 'Organic' has been purloined by certified mega-farms who have perverted the word to meet their evil corporate needs. I don’t feel this way, but discussions around this issue have posited a thought-worthy idea, where small, 'real' organic farmers abandon 'organic' and adopt a more meaningful word.
"'Durable' was suggested. Though you’re not going to catch me saying, 'Me? I’m a durable farmer' or 'Yup, all our produce is certified durable,' I find the word to be packed with layers of meaning worth digging into. A close cousin to another word that gets tossed around in our world, 'sustainable,' durable connotes something about the people involved in keeping a small farm going through the years. Two stories have developed here this year that highlight this.
"I sold our draft horses earlier this year. After several years where I was using our horse team less and less for farm work, allowing tractors to replace them, I managed to find a young, idealistic vegetable farmer to buy them and put their unique skills to use on a farm in the Rochester area. Great, until an e-mail arrives after only three months where the fellow says, 'I’m selling the horses, the equipment and getting out of farming, do you want them back?' (after answering no, he then finds another young, idealist to take them). On the heels of this exchange comes a call from the family to whom we sold our previous farm in Depeyster, NY. This family bought our old farm six years ago with a great deal of back-to-the-land fervor motivating them. Our organic certification, our use of horses, the orchard we had planted, all gave them the idea that they could step in and carry on what we had begun and realize their dream of being self-sufficient rural folk. After a bit of perfunctory small talk, the caller says, “We’re selling the farm. Do you know anyone who wants to buy it?”. The difficulties associated with heating with wood, weeding a home garden, snow removal, etc. had worn them out in 6 years and they were hoping to flee to the Albany area before snowfly.
"I would love to see some numbers on how many small farm enterprises begin, versus how many last for more than a few years. It likely compares well to the rate at which many types of rural enterprises succeed and fail. However, I feel that there is something different with the would-be farmers where their bright, shining idea of agriculture runs into the hard realities of actually doing it. To put it as simply as possible, I think it's the way their ideals overpower the need for a business plan. Idealism is a powerful force in America. We celebrate many great advances in our society borne of those with with high ideals. Less acknowledged are the many ideals that lie dead or dying along the trail to a more perfect union. Let’s give these folks a hand for trying though. I think they serve us all by keeping a general spirit of advancement alive and end up giving real support to those of us who do manage to be durable."
Replacing the maximum SNAP allotment with a benefit that reflects the real cost of a healthy diet, expanding WIC eligibility to age 6, and maintaining the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the National School Lunch (NSLP) and Breakfast Programs (SBP) may effectively address the needs of many families who experience food insecurity and increase access to healthy options, according to a new policy brief released by Children's HealthWatch. Using simulation modeling techniques, researchers looked at three policy changes currently being debated in Congress. By replacing the Thrifty Food Plan with the Low-Cost Plan, they found that 5.3% of SNAP-participant families with children who are currently food insecure would become fully food secure over the course of one year. If WIC’s age eligibility rose to 6, food insecurity among WIC-eligible 5-year-olds and their families would drop by 1.5% reduction; this means 13,208 families would become fully food secure in the first year of the study.
Source: Children’s Health Watch, 10/10/16, Children's Food Insecurity
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Have you been thinking about bringing a Hunger 101 workshop to your school, place of worship, or other organization? It's a great tool to learn, experientially, about the issue of hunger.
A sampling of comments from SLU students who recently took part in a Hunger 101 workshop:
- A significantly accurate depiction of the real situation
- I liked how realistic it was with the scenarios given
- It was engaging and thought-provoking. It put me in the shoes of others and I liked how it opened my eyes to these issues
- We had to slip into another person's shoes - made the exercise quite powerful and personal
- Showed some the realities and frustrations of being poor
- It was a fun activity that shed light on a serious topic!
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Savings allow families to start a small business, move to a better neighborhood, or simply handle unexpected bills. But restrictive policies under SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can make it impossible for people receiving these benefits to accrue even modest savings. States have significant power to set asset limits—or to eliminate them entirely—under both TANF and SNAP, and there is great variation in states' policies. Thirty-six states have eliminated their SNAP asset limit, while 10 limit assets to $2,250. Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia deny TANF to applicants with total assets at or below $3,000—which include both liquid or non-liquid assets such as money in bank accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, and bonds—while eight states have eliminated the TANF asset limit altogether. States also have the power to decide how to treat vehicles for purposes of the asset limit. SNAP regulations require states to disregard up to $4,650 of the value of a single car per household and allow them to exclude entirely one vehicle per household. Two new issue briefs examine the role of asset limits in low-income people’s access to opportunity.
Source: Center for Law & Social Policy, 10/17/16, Asset Limits
Monday, October 24, 2016
144 supporters of the ‘Farm to Food Bank’ tax credit bill released a letter late last week urging Governor Cuomo to sign it into law. A statewide coalition of New York’s agriculture sector, anti- hunger community, and environmental advocates have united in support of bill S.7833 (sponsored by Senator Funke)/A.10584 (sponsored by Assemblymember Moya), which represents a win-win-win for New York’s farming families, the environment, and the hungry men, women, and children who rely on emergency food agencies in every county of the state. After the bill was vetoed last year, the Legislature worked to address the administration’s concerns and it was passed unanimously by both houses in June 2016.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Friday, October 21, 2016
New federal school lunch guidelines are doing what they were designed to do: improving nutrition for school-age children and reducing childhood obesity, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. Under the new guidelines, the total calories of the students' lunch choices decreased 4%. Calories from fat decreased 18% and those from sodium decreased 8%. Researchers combined lunch sales data collected at the register with data on student absences to show how the nutritional content of National School Lunch Program (NSLP) entrées chosen by students varied across different socioeconomic and demographic groups and how the choices affected their health. The responses to the school lunch nutritional changes varied by socioeconomic and demographic groups. Students who received free and reduced-price lunches were more likely to choose entrées with a higher fat content and less likely to select entrées with higher sodium content. Students paying full price made opposite choices--they were more likely to choose high-salt entrees and reject those high in fat.
Source: MedicalXPress, 10/13/16, School Lunch Changes
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Registration Opens Online!
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
A.A.K. Middle School, Potsdam
Check out event guidelines,
see pictures and videos,
& browse recipes at
Registration is limited to one team per division (middle or high school) per school or organization. See more updates to the competition atncjrironchef.org.
North Country Jr. Iron Chef is a project of the Health Initiative.
|North Country Jr. Iron Chef | Health Initiative, Inc. |315.261.4760|ncjrironchef@|
While SNAP benefits average just $1.35 per person per meal for households with children, they have surprisingly important effects on children’s health, education, and long-term outcomes. SNAP enables families to spend more on food and frees up resources they can use to meet their health and other needs. Studies show that children receiving SNAP are less likely than other low-income children not receiving SNAP to be in fair or poor health or underweight, and their families are less likely to make tradeoffs between paying for health care and paying for other basic needs, like food and housing. Researchers comparing the long-term outcomes of people in different areas of the country when SNAP expanded nationwide in the 1960s and early 1970s found that disadvantaged children who had access to food stamps in early childhood and whose mothers had access during their pregnancy had better health and economic outcomes as adults than children who didn’t have access to food stamps.
Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 10/7/16, Long-Term SNAP Benefits
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
SNAP participation averaged 43,369,684 people in July 2016, a decrease of 2,137,387 compared with July 2015. This is the lowest SNAP national participation level since October 2010. The downward SNAP participation trend likely reflects a mix of factors: on the one hand, improved economic conditions have lessened financial need among some households; on the other hand, harsh time limits have pushed certain jobless adults off the rolls. SNAP participation declined in 40 states and the District of Columbia between July 2015 and July 2016. Six of the ten states (Louisiana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and Pennsylvania) with year-over-the-year SNAP increases ranked among the eight states with the biggest job loss in oil and gas rigs as a share of total employment.
Source: Food Research & Action Council, 10/13/16, SNAP Participation
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
One provision has hung up a Senate vote to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act. The provision aims to strengthen the process school districts must use to ensure that only poor and near-poor children get their meals free or at very low cost. Now, districts must verify the family incomes of 3,000 of the applications they’ve approved — or 3% if that’s less. The revised version would establish a sliding scale, generally beginning at 10,000 or 10% and ratcheting down to the current minimum, based on several performance measures. One sticking point is the sheer number of applications school districts must begin with. Another is that the bill enlarges the pool from which the applications must be pulled to include families that don’t have to apply in order for their kids to get free meals, such as those who receive SNAP and those with foster kids. But schools may not be able to get all their parents to verify their incomes. The families may have no fixed address or not read English well enough to understand a verification notice. And, because the bill would allow states to provide low-income parents with $30 a month to partly compensate for their higher food costs during the summer, these children — and all their family members — could also lose out on meals when school isn’t in session during the summer.
Source: Poverty & Policy, 10/11/16, Child Nutrition Bill
Monday, October 17, 2016
Seed Money has a grant opportunity for food garden projects. There are traditional grants as well as "crowdgrants" which offer more revenue-generating potential. Past grantees are diverse and include food banks, community gardens, schools and homeless shelters across the US and around the world.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering to purchase $20 million of cheddar cheese to reduce a private cheese surplus that has reached record levels, while assisting food banks and other food assistance recipients.
While USDA projects dairy prices to increase throughout the rest of the year, many factors including low world market prices, increased milk supplies and inventories, and slower demand have contributed to a sluggish marketplace for dairy producers and caused dairy revenues to drop 35 percent over the past two years. Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935 authorizes USDA to purchase surplus food to benefit food banks and families in need through its nutrition assistance programs.
“America’s farming families are being called on to demonstrate their world-famous resourcefulness and resilience in the face of this current market downturn, and USDA is making use of every tool that we have to help them,” said Vilsack. “For dairy farmers, this has included $11.2 million in payments in August through the Dairy Margin Protection Program, in addition to the surplus purchase offers. While our analysis predicts the market will improve for these hardworking men and women, reducing the surplus can give them extra reassurance while also filling demand at food banks and other organizations that help our nation’s families in need. Farmers at other points in the supply chain are also receiving a boost with over $7 billion in Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage payments for the 2015 crop year, which by design kick in when times are tough. As always, we continue to watch market conditions and will explore opportunities for further assistance in the coming months. For producers challenged by weather, disease and falling revenue, we will continue to ensure the availability of a strong safety net to keep them farming or ranching.”
A solicitation will be issued shortly, and cheese deliveries to food banks and other food assistance recipients are expected to occur beginning in March 2017.
Friday, October 14, 2016
More than half of the students who reported experiencing hunger during their college years also held paying jobs, received financial aid, and many were enrolled in a meal plan, according to a new national survey. The survey canvassed students at eight community colleges and 26 four-year colleges in 12 states. About 3,800 students responded to the survey. Of those respondents, 26% reported “low food security,” meaning they faced challenges in obtaining quality food. Another 22% had “very low food security,” indicating that they were probably going hungry. Of the food-insecure students, 32% said hunger and housing issues had affected their education. Many did not buy a required textbook, or missed a class, or dropped a class. In addition, (1) 56% of food-insecure students said they have a paying job and (2) 75% said they received financial aid such as grants or loans.
Source: Washington Post, 10/5/16, Hungry Students
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Recent national and state policies have begun to incentivize the health care system to address patient hunger, collaborate across sectors, and find sustainable solutions. By knitting the medical and hunger-relief community together, these policies have the potential to help end hunger and improve health by smartly leveraging existing resources. Partnerships between food banks and medical centers have emerged in states such as Oregon, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. Some programs bring health to the food pantries — for example, by providing blood sugar checks when people come to pick up food. Others bring food and hunger screening programs to clinical sites. Correlating such programs with improved health outcomes is a growing area of research — but initial results are promising. Feeding America conducted a pre-post analysis of nearly 700 diabetic patients who were enrolled in a pilot food bank program in three states. The six-month intervention included food boxes nutritionally — tailored for diabetes, self-management education, blood sugar monitoring, and referrals to primary care physicians. Statistically significant outcomes included improved blood sugar (particularly among those with uncontrolled HbA1c at baseline), fruit and vegetable intake, self-efficacy, medication adherence, and lower rates of diabetic distress.
Source: Health Affairs, 9/20/16, Medical Aid for Food Insecurity
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
USDA launched two new initiatives last week: the SNAP E&T Learning Academy and a new website for the innovative SNAP to Skills Project. The two new projects will use a “train-the-trainer” model to create new leadership capacity to build the next generation of SNAP E&T programs. The Academy will provide an opportunity for a select number of individuals to gain technical expertise on SNAP E&T that prepares them to work within their state or across multiple states building job driven SNAP E&T programs. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service will select up to 35 participants from state and local government, along with advocacy, research, and other organizations for the eight-month training. The new SNAP to Skills website is designed to be a “soup to nuts” resource for states and their partners to learn about SNAP E&T and how to build a job training program that addresses the comprehensive needs of SNAP participants. It will include updates on best practices, success stories from participants, plus SNAP E&T policy and official guidance.
Source: USDA, 10/5/16, SNAP E & T
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
SNAP will help about 20 million children each month this year. Among those children are kids of all ages, who live in all types of communities and in many different types of families. Those families do have one thing in common: they are poor and have a hard time obtaining an adequate diet. Over 80% of SNAP households with children have gross incomes below the poverty line ($20,100 annually for a family of three in 2016); nearly half have incomes below 50% of the poverty line. Nearly a third of the children are younger than 5 years old, 40% are 5 to 11 years old, and 25% are 12 to 17 years old. Virtually all participating children are U.S. citizens; 20% live in a household with at least one non-citizen. Only one in seven households with children (15%) receive cash assistance (TANF or state General Assistance) while participating in SNAP. Five percent of SNAP children have a severe disability, and another 10% live in a household where someone receives disability benefits.
Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 10/4/16, SNAP Kids
Monday, October 10, 2016
The Census Bureau’s annual report on poverty and income shows major economic improvement on a number of indicators, including a drop in poverty from 14.8 % of Americans in 2014 to 13.5% in 2015. Virtually all groups of Americans, including children, shared in the poverty reduction, with about one million fewer children living in poverty and the child poverty rate improving from 21.1% 2014 to 19.7% in 2015. But, despite clear improvement, America’s children and young adults still have the highest poverty rates, and children and young adults of color experience sharply elevated poverty even within that group. One analysis found that most of these children live in families with at least one working parent: in 2015, about 70% of poor children and 84% of low-income children lived with at least one worker. Children and young adults of color are far more likely to be poor than White children. About one third of Black children and about three in ten Hispanic children live in poverty.
Source: Center for Law & Social Policy, 10/5/16, Inequality in Poverty
Sunday, October 9, 2016
It may not come up in debates, but candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump provided statements on their plans to address hunger and poverty to Vote to End Hunger after the coalition delivered to both campaign's headquarters the names of 631,000 voters who want to make those issues a top priority.
Mrs. Clinton has set a national goal of cutting poverty in half over 10 years, and understands that this starts with creating jobs, particularly in communities too often left out and left behind. In her first 100 days in office, she pledges to make the largest investment in job creation since World War II. She will make it easier to start and grow a small business, and will increase the minimum wage. She will also fight to make sure women are paid equally—not just because it’s fair, but because it means pay raises for the entire family. And she will ensure that working families have the supports they need—like affordable, high-quality child care and health care; paid family leave; and increased rental assistance.
Mr. Trump says underprivileged and underserved families living in poverty face the same issues no matter their background. Hunger, a lack of employment opportunity, access to healthcare and education to name a few. He understands that poverty is more common in certain communities, who often suffer in unsafe neighborhoods with failing schools, which then results in fewer nutritional or other retail options. His agenda will, he states, grow our economy, create jobs and restore vitality to rural and urban pockets of poverty. He will also address the cycles of crime, violence and recidivism that plague underprivileged communities. In our cities, we will stand with communities to restore safety on the streets and excellence and choice in education.
Full text of Mrs. Clinton’s statement: Clinton on Hunger & PovertyFull text of Mr. Trump’s statement: Trump on Hunger & Poverty
Friday, October 7, 2016
The American Academy of Pediatrics has called on policymakers to do more for children’s health and development — not just for health care but for families’ economic security and The report recommends a series of efforts to lift families out of poverty, such as raising the minimum wage, improving job training, expanding family and medical leave, and strengthening the Earned Income and Child tax credits. For example, it urges policymakers to “extend the CTC to very poor families with young children and ensure that these children can receive the full tax credit.” The pediatricians also recommend raising SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefits to better enable families to obtain an adequate, healthy diet throughout the month. The report contains specific recommendations for Congress and over 20 federal departments.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, 9/16, Blueprint for Kids
Thursday, October 6, 2016
Food waste is a trendy issue these days, not least because it appears to be an obvious solution to world hunger. But Nick Saul, author of The Stop, a book about directing a food bank in Canada, believes that belief is misguided. Preventing food waste, he says, will never be able to address hunger because hunger isn’t about a lack of food. It’s about a lack of income. People are food insecure because they can’t afford to eat. And waste is about (1) inefficiencies and bureaucracy in the food system that see crops tilled under and lost in the production process while other crops are overproduced as a result of antiquated agricultural policy and incentive programs; (2) a retail system that has overabundance built into its operation model; and (3) consumers who buy food with the best intentions, only to have it spoil in the back of the fridge.
Source: Food Politics, 9/27/16,Food Waste
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
A few facts about Kale :
- Kale, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all the same species of plant!
- They have become so different due to thousands of years of human cultivation
- Popular for its hardiness and resistance to frost
- Had an unexpected rise in popularity within the last decade
- Now referred to as a “superfood”
The recipe: Creamy Kale Gratin
Serves 4, takes 25 minutes
1 medium bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces (about 10 cups)
1 shallot, sliced
salt and black pepper
2 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut up
- Heat oven to 375° F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the kale and shallot, season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Toss occasionally.
- Mix in the cream cheese and sour cream. Transfer to a shallow baking dish, top with the bread crumbs and butter, and bake in oven until golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
Alternate Kale Recipe: Kale and Lentils with Tahini Sauce
Serves 4, takes 30 minutes total
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 medium bunch kale, thick stems removed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces (about 10 cups)
1 15-ounce can lentils, rinsed
- Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, oil, 2 tablespoons water, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the kale and ¼ cup water, covered, tossing occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain the kale and fold in the lentils. Serve with the tahini sauce.