Saturday, September 30, 2017

Another student joins the team for the semester

Name: Corinna Pilcher

Hometown: Colchester, Vermont

Role at GardenShare: Volunteer

How long?: September – December 2017

Why I do what I do: I’m working with GardenShare as an additional learning experience with my class on societal change. I love GardenShare’s mission of strengthening the region’s food system to help both the farmers and those who need food assistance, with healthy food at the center. I look forward to helping this mission however I can in the four months I’m here.

Role outside of GardenShare: I’m a student at St. Lawrence University.

Hobbies: I love to travel, discuss current events, learn new things, and go on adventures.

What one word would you use to describe yourself? Inquisitive.

Favorite book: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Last read: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

Friday, September 29, 2017


Forty years ago--September 29,1977--President Carter signed into law the landmark 1977 Food Stamp Act, setting the framework for today’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The 1977 law and its bipartisan roots both were years in the making. Food stamps began as a pilot program in 1961 and was converted to permanent status in 1964, but it wasn’t yet a nationwide program and wasn’t doing enough to address hunger. Tens years later the program served the whole nation. When President Ford sought in 1975 to cut food stamp benefits sharply by regulation, Congress passed legislation to block the measure by bipartisan, veto-proof margins. The Food Stamp Act that Carter signed in 1977, which passed Congress with bipartisan support, included the most far-reaching improvements in the program’s history. It eliminated the “purchase requirement” — that recipients must pay cash to purchase their food stamps (for example, having to pay $90 to receive $200 in food stamps rather than just receiving the $110 difference). Until then, only about half of those eligible for benefits were receiving them, in large part because many potential beneficiaries could not come up with the lump sums of cash needed to buy food stamps every month. And it took important steps to simplify the program, reduce administrative costs, and combat fraud.

Source: Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 9/26/17, Food Stamp History

Veggie of the Month: Beets

Fun Facts about beets:
  •  Long ago beets were used to cure ailments such as toothaches and headaches rather than being consumed 
  • The compound that makes beets red is called betalin and it’s actually really important in helping the body get rid of toxins. 
  • The beet is a love vegetable. It is the belief of some cultures that eating from the same beet as someone else will cause you to fall in love. 
  • The green tops of beets are edible and taste good sautéed.

Roasted Beet Salad with Chickpeas and Red Onion

4 servings



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Set the beets, garlic and rosemary on a large piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, sprinkle with some salt and pepper and add a splash of water. Fold the foil up into a pouch and seal the edges. Transfer to the oven and cook until the beets are easily pierced with a knife, 45 to 50 minutes. When done, remove the beets from the pouch and set them aside until cool enough to handle. With a paper towel rub the skins from the beets. Cut the peeled beets into bite-size cubes. Mince the roasted garlic.
Combine the beets, garlic, chickpeas, red onion, pickles and lemon juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to mix. Transfer the salad to a serving platter. Sprinkle with the cotija and cilantro and serve.


New intern works on educating youth on food system issues

Name:  Becky Tierney

Town of residence:  Canton, NY – from Franklin, MA

Role at GardenShare:  As an intern, my primary responsibility is to reach out to youth in the St. Lawrence County community and spread the mission of GardenShare through education. I am creating another lesson plan for GardenShare’s repertoire on youth education and will be assessing the effectiveness of this new plan through survey.

How long?  I am interning at GardenShare from the month of September through December of 2017.

Why I do what I do:  I applied to be an intern at GardenShare because as an environmental studies major, I believe that one of the major ways we can mitigate climate change is by being mindful consumers and supporting local, small businesses rather than large franchises. GardenShare promotes local agriculture and emphasizes the importance nutritionally, economically, and environmentally of buying and eating local.

Role outside of GardenShare:  Outside of GardenShare, I am a full-time student at St. Lawrence University and will be graduating with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies with a French Minor in the spring of 2018. At St. Lawrence, I work for the Calling All Saints team as a student-caller and am a member of the Laurentian Singers.

Hobbies:  Singing, dancing, drawing and writing.

Most recent accomplishment:  I have just recently returned from studying abroad in Australia where I learned about the environmental management of the Great Barrier Reef and the marine park in which it lies. I hope to work in environmental management and in educating others on how their choices and actions impact their environment. Through GardenShare, I hope to develop my communication and organizational skills so that I can learn more about the food system within St. Lawrence County and educate its youth about GardenShare’s mission of eating locally and mindfully.

Favorite song, book, or movie?  My favorite song is Green Eyes by Coldplay.

Last read?  Small is Beautiful by E. F. Schumacher

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Another student joins the team

Name: Lindsay Campbell

Town of Residence: Hamilton, Massachusetts

Role at GardenShare: Volunteer

How long? Just starting a 4 month commitment

Why I do what I do: I am at GardenShare to help those who are in need and to help make sure everyone has access to healthy locally grown food.  

I am a freshman at St. Lawrence University, currently pursuing a degree in Business, but I am ultimately undecided. My favorite movie is Just Go With it, starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. If I could be a superhero, my power would to be have super speed, so I can get things done faster. For example, homework, helping people, and just everyday tasks. One word I would use to describe myself is fun and funny. I like to make the most of every moment and use humor in my everyday life. What not many people know about me is that I have five siblings, one older sister, one older brother, and three younger sisters.  

Volunteers, donors, friends...

Canton Farmers Market Manager 
Jenn Whittaker
The leaves are starting to change, the air growing crisp, so it may feel like summer is drawing to a close. But things aren’t winding down at area farmers markets. You’ll surely still see Jenn Whittaker at the Canton Farmers Market every Tuesday and Friday throughout October.

Jenn is Canton’s market manager, and she is also a vital GardenShare volunteer and supporter. She serves as co-chair of our Outreach and Education Committee, and Jenn and Erik are members of our Sustainers’ Circle.

The Whittakers have long been interested in issues related to food policy and systems. “I’ve always been interested in how food gets to our plates,” says Jenn. But their interest became more personal and focused when their children, Arianna (15) and Braden (12), each developed substantial food allergies. “It became even more important for us to understand where our food comes from, how it is produced.”

It’s all in the family! Arianna (center) 
and friends provide music entertainment 
at the farmers market.
The Whittakers first became aware of GardenShare when they moved to Canton from the Malone area about seven years ago. “We had friends who were involved, and we were given a Local Food Guide to help us know where to find locally grown food.” She also remembers being delighted to find that she could use her credit or debit card to buy tokens to purchase produce at the farmers market.

As she learned more, she decided to get more involved. “This work is incredibly important,” says Jenn. “Food is a necessity, people can’t choose if they want to eat.” Jenn joined the O&E Committee, the kids pitch in helping at the farmers market and stuffing newsletters, and they all joined in the fun creating a float and representing GardenShare in Canton’s Dairy Princess parade.

Erik and Braden marching for 
GardenShare in veggie costumes 
in the Dairy Princess parade!
Erik and Jenn are GardenShare Sustainers, meaning they have made a three- year financial pledge to support the organization. “It’s just so important the people aren’t hungry,” says Jenn with her characteristic passion. “GardenShare brings people together and builds partnerships to solve issues of poverty and hunger. For us it’s a starting point to strengthen our community in our food justice efforts,” she says. “That’s why it’s so important to us to support and contribute to GardenShare’s work.”

It’s friends like the Whittaker family whose support and hard make GardenShare’s work possible in so many ways.


New research finds that adults with disabilities—mental health disabilities in particular—are at an increased risk of living in a household that is food insecure. Working-age adults have higher odds of food insecurity than young adults; older adults have lower odds of food insecurity than young and working-age adults. Some of these differences may be explained by the different levels of access such populations have to government programs such as employment services, Supplemental Security Income, and Social Security. The analysis showed that adults with a mental health disability were three to five times more likely to live in a food-insecure household, depending on age, than demographically similar adults without a disability. Mental health disabilities were the only type of disability that resulted in a significantly higher likelihood of food insecurity for all age groups considered.

Source: USDA, 9/5/17, Disability & Food Insecurity

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Confusion over "date" labels on foods is a major culprit in creating food waste. Once a "sell by" date has passed, lots of us toss out food that's perfectly safe to eat. The typical U.S. family spends about $1,500 on food it then throws away. A new initiative aims to harmonize "use by" labels around the globe. The Consumer Goods Forum, a network of 400 of the largest food and consumer goods companies around the globe — including Walmart, Kellogg, Nestle, Campbell Soup, and Amazon — is asking retailers and food producers to take steps to simplify date labels. The forum is asking producers to use two standard phrases on food packages in the future:

  • "BEST if Used By," which describes the quality of a food product. This term is meant to convey that "the product may not taste or perform" its best after the specified date, "but it is safe to use or consume," and
  • "Use By," which applies to highly perishable products. It means the products should be consumed by the date listed on the package and disposed of after that date.

Source: NPR, 9/20/17, Food Labels

Monday, September 25, 2017

New semester, new interns at GardenShare

Name: Meredith Nordell

Hometown: Greenfield, MA 

Role at GardenShare: Student Volunteer 

How long? September 2017-December 2017

Why I do what I do at GardenShare: Food insecurity has always been an issue that I have been passionate about, when I saw the opportunity to volunteer at an organization like this I jumped at the opportunity because I believe that it will not only allow me to make a small difference in the wider community but I can also get a better sense of the area itself and the people who live and work here. 

Role outside of GardenShare: I am a full time student majoring in sociology and minoring in Chinese studies at St. Lawrence University! 

Hobbies: Spending time outdoors (hiking, biking, swimming, paddling, backpacking, rock climbing, etc...), climbing trees, reading, spending time with friends, sketching

Most recent accomplishment: Being awarded the IB Diploma after 2 years of hard work.  

Favorite book? Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

Last read? Plato's Republic, for a Philosophy class

What one word would you use to describe yourself? Fun-loving 

What are you most proud of? My commitment to the Chinese language, (this is my 7th year taking it.)

What would I find in your refrigerator right now? Apple cider, cupcakes, cheese and lemonade. 


Food insecurity threatened 14.7% of seniors in 2015, a slight decrease from the prior year. Researchers have documented the characteristics of the seniors who struggle with this problem. They found:

  • Seniors who are racial or ethnic minorities, low-income, or younger vs. older (age 60-69 vs. age 80+) were most likely to be affected.
  • Seniors with a disability were disproportionately affected, with 38% reporting marginal food security.
  • Senior food insecurity rates vary by state, ranging from 6.1% in North Dakota to 24.3% in Mississippi. Connecticut’s rate was 14.2%

Food insecurity adversely affects a person’s health, and the implications can be particularly problematic for seniors. Compared to food-secure seniors, food-insecure seniors: (1) consume fewer calories and lower quantities of key nutrients and (2) are more likely to experience negative health conditions, including depression, asthma, and chest pain

Source: National Foundation to End Senior Hunger, 9/18/17, Senior Hunger

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Fight Hunger 5K Update

Thank you ALL for a wonderful turn out at last Sunday's Fight Hunger 5K. We certainly were lucky with the weather...maybe a little too lucky!

Congratulations to the committee, staff, and volunteers on pulling off a smooth-running and very successful event. We will have an official report and numbers soon, but a current snapshot shows 122 registered participants (I suspect with children and others who weren't on a registration form, that number is a bit higher) and with sponsors and donations we raised more than $10,000! We'll have to wait on the bottom line on that, too, once all expenses are accounted for and final donations straggle in. All in all, we exceeded our goals, and we have a lot to be proud of. Thank you all.

If you haven't seen some of the fun pictures Brianna took, check out our Facebook page.

If you were meaning to make a donation but never quite got around to it, there is still time - go here!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Saturday, September 23, 2017


This blog has been rather empty the last week as I made an emergency trip to the hospital.  I am back home now and hope to be back at work on Monday.  So, look for some new activity on the blog!


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Food preservation workshops

Food Preservation Series
Extension Kitchen
Fee: $15 each or 3+ $12 each
Series of 6 workshops, each hands-on workshop features 2-3 recipes along with the instructions to make delicious and safely preserves products at home.

September 161:00-4:00pm
  • Session 3: All About Tomatoes: Sauces & More

September 303:00-5:00pm
  • Session 4: Savor the Flavor: Freezing Hot Sauces & Homemade Condiments.

October 116:30-8:00pm
  • Session 5: Let's Make Sauerkraut & Kimchi! Fun with Fermentation

November 41:00-4:00pm
  • Session 6: Demystifying the Pressure Canner

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


A new study finds that SNAP, benefits may not be enough for a healthy diet. The study, found SNAP benefits only cover 43 to 60% of what it costs to consume a diet that fulfills federal guidelines for a healthy diet. Researchers analyzed the cost to follow federal dietary guidelines based on the USDA's monthly retail price data from 2015 for fruits, vegetables, dairy, grains and proteins. The study did show that SNAP benefits were enough to cover the cost of a healthy diet for children under the age of 8 and women over the age of 51, but was not enough to cover healthy dietary needs for older children, younger women and men of any age.

Source: UPI, 9/7/17, SNAP Diet

Monday, September 11, 2017

Guest blogger: SNAP Challenge Reflections

The President of GardenShare's Board of Directors, Carol Pynchon, continues her reflections on this exercise.  Read her earlier posts here.

It’s Hunger Action Month! Consider helping GardenShare raise awareness and understanding of hunger and poverty issues this week – or any day(s) or week(s) this month – by taking the SNAP Challenge. I did it last week – shopping and eating on $4.60/person/day. Here’s a snapshot of how it went and what I learned:

  • It wasn’t terrible, I didn’t starve. I had enough to eat, but I sometimes felt like what I was eating wasn’t the healthiest and didn’t make me feel great, like cheerios for breakfast and peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. That’s a lot of carbs!
  • Shopping on a very limited budget is challenging and nerve-wracking. Because I was buying for only one, I wanted/needed small quantities; all the “deals” and good prices were for the “family size.” And even if you were feeding a family, the large sizes really add up and take a chunk out of your budget.
  • Sugary, high-carb food tends to be cheap. I had pb&j for lunch all week (which I will admit was a treat at first). It was affordable, but monotonous and not my healthiest choice. I did avoid mac and cheese and ramen, which are really cheap and filling options.
  • Friends can help! One friend brought me peaches as a thank you and another gave me a cabbage and a couple of spaghetti squash that were surplus from a prison garden. They were amazing treats and great supplements to my diet.
  • Another boon (and one might say slight cop out!): a senior friend asked me to drive her to a doctor’s appointment. On the way home she offered to take me out to lunch. Bam! Protein – an amazing smoked chicken sandwich on hearty multigrain bread. What a treat (and nice change from pb&j!). Also, my periodic minimum-wage job – bartending at the Bucc – offers a free meal for a full shift. I don’t usually take advantage of that, but last week the juicy hamburger was much appreciated! I had anticipated taking advantage of free will meals in our community – Campus Kitchen on Monday and Methodist church on Wednesday, but these two “free meals” helped get me through.
  • I had read suggestions on SNAP Challenge and low-budget meals (Good and Cheap is a great resource no matter your budget). In the end, I was sorry I had followed some of their advice though; I could have done without pasta, bread, cereal and relied on more vegetables and fruit.
  • I’ve never been more convinced of the value of GardenShare’s Bonus Bucks program and SNAP/EBT options at farmers markets. The food from my CSA (for which I could receive a subsidy if I were a SNAP recipient, and even if I wasn’t but needed some help) carried me through the week. Tomatoes, squash, greens, eggplant all made for delicious, healthy, and still affordable meals.  
  • I only grow tomatoes and some herbs, but this time of year you could live off a small garden, even a few things grown in pots would add substantially – and healthfully – to any meal plan. Local bounty is plentiful and nutritious, everyone should have that option.
  • When I described my challenge to my son, who lives in a co-op with eight others in Seattle, he reminded me that their meal budget is $3.25/person/day (in Seattle!). That just shows what you can do if you have the benefit of bulk buying, if you can muster enough money up front – on your own or combined among roommates – and have enough mouths to feed or space to store it so it doesn’t go bad. A small garden and an army of eager gardeners doesn’t hurt!

All in all, taking the SNAP Challenge accomplished its goal. I felt first hand the strains of shopping and eating on a very limited budget. As a mother, I couldn’t help think how much more difficult it would have been if I’d been managing a job, three young children, and their full schedules and hungry tummies. I recognize more clearly the barriers to affordable and nutritious meals - and the importance of GardenShare’s work to ensure “healthy farms, healthy food, everybody eats.”

-Carol Pynchon

Friday, September 8, 2017


More than 41 million Americans lived in households struggling with food insecurity in 2016, according to a new USDA report. However, the data reveal a small decline in household food insecurity in 2016 from 2015, with the rate dropping from 12.7 to 12.3%. Other key findings from the USDA report include:
  • The rates of food insecurity were substantially higher among households with children, and for black- and Hispanic-headed households. The rate worsened for black, non-Hispanic households from 2015 to 2016, while improving for Hispanic and white, non-Hispanic households.
  • Rates among households with children remain higher than rates for households without children (16.5% versus 10.5%).
  • Households in rural areas experienced considerably greater struggles with hunger compared to those in metro areas, with higher rates of overall food insecurity  (15% versus 11.8%), and higher rates of very low food security (6.6% compared to 4.6%).
  • The food insecurity rate in the South, already higher than in the West, Northeast, and Midwest, rose from 2015 to 2016, while it fell in the other three regions.  

Source: USDA, 9/6/17, Food Insecurity

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Guest blogger: SNAP Challenge Blog #2

September is Hunger Action Month and one action we are encouraging people to take is the SNAP Challenge, where you try to live on the average SNAP food budget.  President of the GardenShare Board of Directors, Carol Pynchon, is undertaking the challenge and continues her SNAP Challenge story...

SNAP Challenge Blog #2

So it’s the end of Day #3 and I have already learned and gained a lot from this exercise.

I decided – yes, I was able to choose – to do the challenge for five days. Those happened to be mostly days that my husband and daughter weren’t going to be home. So that meant less money all together, but somewhat easier planning.

For one person for five days, my budget was $23 ($4.60/person/day). The “rules” are that I start from nothing, so I had to buy everything I was going to need for those five days. We do get a CSA share, and based on calculations for that ($12/week share for just me for five days), I figured that was $4.25 of my budget. So I had $18.75 to spend on groceries.

I did a little planning, including getting out my copy of Good and Cheap, which I had gotten when the author did a Kickstarter for her cookbook of recipes you can make on a $4/day budget. Mostly looking at her shopping list gave me some tips.

And off I went. It was late, and I was coming home from Potsdam, so I stopped at WalMart, not my usual shopping choice (Aldi was closed). Pushing my big cart, and with calculator in hand, I started in the produce section. (I knew I had kale, zucchini, tomatoes, onion, and a small eggplant left from my CSA share.) I got lettuce, a cucumber, and four bananas. The bananas were priced by the pound (I couldn’t swing the organic ones), and I had to hunt for the one scale in the produce section to figure out exactly how much my four bananas would be.

I found peanut butter and jelly (luckily, the small jar of naturally sweetened fruit spread was the cheapest – not the best economy, but the cheapest), a couple cans of beans, spaghetti, a jar of pasta sauce, eggs, and milk. I held off on bread and cereal, which I could only get in a huge box that was a budget buster.

I had planned to get some chicken as a protein source. This is when things got dicey. There was a big sign that showed $1.88/pound, but that was for the big, family packs – way more than I needed and definitely more than I could afford. So I looked at the small packs of tenders and a pack of ground chicken. $4.95. $3.86. And I began to get a knot in my stomach and started to feel anxious. How was I going to fit this into my budget? I looked at the big cart with a very few things in it and felt a bit overwhelmed. I checked my list and my Good and Cheap notes. I’d have to count on the eggs and beans for protein. No chicken.

I ended up stopping at the Price Chopper to get a small box of no-name Cheerios and the cheapest loaf of wheat bread I could find. I almost had a coffee coup - a $1.98  special – but then realized they were sold out of the special. No coffee.

In the end, my total grocery bill was $17.67. Even with the cost of my CSA I was still a little under my allowance. So I could do it, with some careful planning, a couple of stops, and a few anxious moments I was within my budget. But the upshot was going to be a pretty basic, monotonous menu for the week.

At the end of the week I’ll share some reflections on this experience. It’s Hunger Action Month. Consider giving the SNAP Challenge a try as you reflect on how others manage their families’ diets and nutrition on a limited budget.

--Carol Pynchon

Monday, September 4, 2017

Guest blogger: (Over)thinking the SNAP Challenge

September is Hunger Action Month and one action we are encouraging people to take is the SNAP Challenge, where you try to live on the average SNAP food budget.  President of the GardenShare Board of Directors, Carol Pynchon, is undertaking the challenge and had these thoughts to offer as she starts this journey...

Gloria has suggested that I might be overthinking my participation in GardenShare’s SNAP Challenge, and I have to admit she’s right. And that has provided my first take-away from this effort to feed my family on the average SNAP allowance: I have time to think about the challenge and plan how I am going to manage. And I’ve been doing that. A lot! But not everyone has that opportunity.

I have been strategizing how to get the most for my food dollar and where I’ll get the best deals. I have time – and a car with gas in it – and will drive around to get the best prices. I don’t imagine that most people who find themselves requiring assistance have a lot of time to creatively think about and map out how they will feed themselves and their families for $4.60 per person per day. And they don’t get to choose when it’s most convenient – when having a strapped food budget won’t interfere with weekend plans, a birthday celebration, or a particularly full long day of work. 

So, I need to stop thinking about it and do it! We are going to take the challenge next week.  Stay tuned for further reports and consider taking the SNAP Challenge sometime during September, which is Hunger Action Month. Check out some suggestions from GardenShare for other ways you can take action here.

--Carol Pynchon