Archive for the ‘Food Insecurity’ Category

Wordless Wednesday: November15, 2014 is America Recycles Day!

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

November15, 2014 is America Recycles Day!

There are many ways to recycle but, because Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, I thought food waste might be the best topic to talk about because, while we feast, someone else is going hungry. Can we help to stop that? Look at the infographics below and let me know what YOU think!

 

America Recycles Day 11/15/2014 (logo courtesy America Recycles)

America Recycles Day 11/15/2014 (logo courtesy America Recycles)

 

 

Pie chart of Food Waste in the U.S. (photo courtesy of National Resources Defense Council)

Pie chart of Food Waste in the U.S. (photo courtesy of National Resources Defense Council)

 

 

Americans waste approx. 245 lbs. of food per person per year (infographic courtesy of Tufts University)

Americans waste approx. 245 lbs. of food per person per year (infographic courtesy of Tufts University)

 

 

25 million people could be fed if we reduced food waste by 15% (Infographic courtesy National Resources Defense Council)

25 million people could be fed if we reduced food waste by 15% (Infographic courtesy National Resources Defense Council)

 

Let’s it do better! Recycle your food waste or better yet, compost it yourself and use it in your garden!

 

Submitted by Connie Schultz Extension Master Gardener/Composter (’95 Cornell Extension) now volunteering in Johnston County, NC

Celebrating Food Day Oct. 24th, 2014

Friday, October 24th, 2014

It’s Food Day! Visit a farmer’s market today or a community garden or go gleaning in a field for a local food pantry. Today it’s all about food – what we eat, how we grow it, prepare it, preserve it and eat it and how that relates to our overall health  – ours and our children’s.

 Food Day Focus on Children’s Diets

One of the important focuses of Food Day is children’s diets. Many of us volunteer at school gardens and know how important it is to teach children how to make healthy choices and for them to know where their food actually comes from – not from the store but from the dirt! On average, kids get over a quarter of their calories from snacks daily.  That wouldn’t be so bad if the snacks were more healthful, but cookies, cakes, chips, candy, and sugary drinks top the list of popular choices. You can check out an informative infographic to learn more about children’s diets in the US and to how it’s related to illnesses in their lives today.

The American Diet: Prescription for Ill Health

What adults are consuming is important too because they do the shopping and plan the meals for their families and set the stage for a life time of food habits. CSPI, the sponsor of Food Day, prepared a brief analysis of the average American adult diet and its relationship to their health. If you’re volunteering in a community garden teaching people to grow, harvest, cook and preserve food, you’re helping them attain a healthier happier life style. Master Gardeners are changing the world they live in by creating healthier futures for everyone.

Onion Flowering (photo submitted by Connie Schultz)

Onion Flowering (photo submitted by Connie Schultz)

 

To celebrate Food Day today, I thought it might be fun to take a quick food quiz. Just click on the link below and see how you do!

 

14 Questions that Could
Save Your Life and the Planet

 

Submitted by Connie Schultz, Master Gardener/Composter (’95 Cornell Extension) now volunteering in Johnston County, NC

Food Day Oct. 24th, Preparation Day!

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Getting ready for Food Day? Take the Food Literacy quiz to get ready!

Food Literacy •  noun •  füd ˈli-t(ə-)rə-sē
Understanding the story of one’s food, from farm to table and back to the soil; the knowledge and ability to make informed choices that support one’s health, community, and the environment.

8,000 Events Being Held Across the Country

Food Day was created to inspire people to change their diets for the better. This year over 8,000 events are being held across the country to support issues like health, nutrition, and sustainability:

  • National Geographic will host a Food Day Harvest Festival on Saturday, October 25.
  • In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick is inviting consumers, farmers and ranchers, fishermen, social justice advocates, and other stakeholders to the State House on Food Day to learn more about a new Massachusetts Food Systems Plan. “Our communities are healthier when families have access to fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthy, whole foods,” said Governor Patrick.
  • New York City is getting ready for its third annual Big Apple Crunch.  They’re hoping to break last year’s record of 1 million people taking part.  All the kids in NYC schools will get an apple on Food Day!

These are only a few of the thousands of events going on tomorrow. Hopefully, as an Extension Master Gardener, you’ll play an important part by helping someone learn to grow, harvest, prepare or preserve vegetables this week!

Arcimboldovertemnus by Giuseppe Arcimboldo,

Arcimboldovertemnus by Giuseppe Arcimboldo,
c. 1590-1591 (from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository)

 

Submitted by Connie Schultz, Master Gardener/Composter (’95 Cornell Extension) now volunteering in Johnston County, NC

 

Almost Wordless Wednesday: 2014 National Honey Bee Day

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Theme: Sustainable Gardening Begins with Honey Bees

Last Saturday was National Honey Bee Day. I know we already had Pollinator Week and Moth Week but this day is solely for honey bees – and aren’t we glad because honey bees are the ONLY insects that make honey. So next time you stir honey into your tea – thank a little bee.

Bee laden with pollen (photo courtesy Honey Bee Haven)

Bee laden with pollen (photo courtesy Honey Bee Haven)

Bees are hard workers that have to visit 4.5 million flowers to collect enough nectar to make 16 oz. of honey. They travel 112,000 miles to do this. It truly is amazing! But bees need help. There aren’t as many flowers as there used to be.

 

Plant flowers for bees (photo from Pinterest, photo credit not known)

Plant flowers for bees (photo from Pinterest, photo credit not known)

Bees are such amazing creatures. What can you do to help draw attention to their plight? Get involved! Here’s a short list. Visit these organizations that support honey bees and other pollinators.

National Honey Bee Day:

 

 

 

 

 

Long live the Queen Bee! (photo courtesy Center for Honey Bee Research)

Long live the Queen Bee! (photo courtesy Center for Honey Bee Research)

 

For more information, you can also visit the EPA site to read the most recent update on the Colony Collapse Disorder. If I’ve over looked any group, please contact me below and let me know.  Connie Schultz, Master Gardener/Composter (Cornell Extension ’95) now volunteering in Johnston County, NC)

 UPDATE 8/25/2014

Dear Readers, I need to make a correction to my post as I’ve just learned that I may have spoken (or quoted) incorrectly when I said that honey bees are the ONLY insect to make honey. I had an interesting conversation with Amie Newsome, one of my county agents, who was telling me that bumble bees also make a “honey” – not quite the same in all resects as the honey bees.) In the bumble bee life cycle the workers die in the fall and only the queen survives by hibernating through the winter – so they don’t need to store honey to eat over the cold months. She will start a new underground colony again in the spring. The bumble bees collect nectar to feed their new hatchling bumble bees – but only a few ounces or enough for a few days. Bumble bee colonies are also smaller than bee hives with only 50 to 400 bumble bees per colony while honey bees may have as many as 40,000 so they have correspondingly larger stores of honey. For more information on the differences between honey bees and bumble bees, here’s a fun site for kids called BioKids from the University of Michigan and another site which focuses on bumble bees called Bumble Bee Conservation Trust.

 

 

Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth-Almost Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

 

Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County Extension Master Gardener Coordinator planting strawberries with second grade student at Fern Hill Elementary School in the Tacoma School District.  Photo by Steve Balles

Photo by Steve Balles

 

 

 

 

Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County Extension Master Gardener Coordinator planting strawberries with second grade student at Fern Hill Elementary School in the Tacoma School District.

 

 

 

Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County Extension Master Gardener Coordinator helping a fifth grader thin radishes at Mary Lyon Elementary School in the Tacoma School District. Photo by Kristen Peterson

Photo by Kristen Peterson

 

 

 

Kerri Wilson, WSU Pierce County Extension Master Gardener Coordinator helping a fifth grader thin radishes at Mary Lyon Elementary School in the Tacoma School District.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Kerri Wilson

Photo by Kerri Wilson

 

 

The Daffodil Valley Elementary School Garden under construction in the Spring of 2013.
Sumner WA School District

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Linda Mathews

Photo by Linda Mathews

 

In the background you can see the completed fence and raised beds installed by Sumner High School Students.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Linda Mathews

Photo by Linda Mathews

 

 

In the background you can see the completed greenhouse and raised beds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Daffodil Valley Elementary School Garden in summer 2013.

Photo by Linda Mathews

Photo by Linda Mathews

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth – Can we prove the benefits of school gardens?

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

All over the country, gardens are increasing access to fresh and healthy foods and promoting exercise.  But is there evidence to show that gardening—particularly school gardening—can lead to improved eating and other health benefits?  That’s what the People’s Garden School Pilot Project, “Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth” (HGHY) is trying to find out.

More than 4,000 students in low-income communities have taken part in this four-state research project funded by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, and part of the national Peoples Garden program.  Co-led by Washington State University Extension and Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC, with partners Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and the University of Arkansas Extension, HGHY has followed students in 54 elementary schools for the past two years. Data collection was completed in June of 2013 and analysis by the researchers is underway with results expected in spring of 2014.

As part of the project, gardens were installed at half of the schools and students participated in gardening lessons. The other half of the schools served as a control group, receiving no gardens or lessons until the project concluded. After waiting two long years for their gardens, the control schools could hardly wait to get their gardens started – especially Daffodil Valley Elementary.

Daffodil Valley Elementary School in Sumner, Washington is a great example of how community makes a garden successful! When it came time to build the garden, the school formed a garden committee consisting of the school’s librarian, science teacher, after school program coordinator, a parent volunteer, the Sumner High School Agriculture and Future Farmers of America (FFA) Faculty and a Pierce County Master Garden plans to join this committee soon! The committee decided the school would most benefit from a tilled, in-ground garden utilizing the rich soils of the Puyallup Valley, home to many berry and former bulb farms. The committee quickly got to work designing the garden, recruiting youth and community volunteers, and donations from local businesses. Within a few months the garden plot was tilled, a shed and green house were installed, and a fence was raised.  On a sunny day in late May, Daffodil students came out to the garden to plant seeds and transplants. The Sumner High School FFA members participated in each step of the garden installation, from planning meetings to building the fence. Several FFA students completed social science projects inspired by the garden. One Sumner High student completed his Eagle Scout Project by building three wheel chair accessible beds so that all students can garden.

With all the care and attention from the school community, the Daffodil garden produced a bountiful harvest by summer. Everyone is planning for next year’s garden when some of the produce will be sold at a Junior Farmer’s Market – a joint Daffodil Elementary and Sumner High School project to help teach students math and business skills.

Many schools across the country in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth benefited from the guidance and expertise of Master Gardener volunteers. Master Gardeners taught gardening lessons, provided guidance in garden installation and planting and are now helping with the long term sustainability of the gardens through continual support. A Washington State University Pierce County Master Gardener has been partnered with Daffodil Valley to provide garden education to students and guidance to the garden committee.

To learn more, visit the HGHY website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Enjoy schools’ garden pictures Wed., Oct. 30, as an Almost Wordless Wednesday post.

 

Submitted by Kerri Wilson

WSU Pierce County Extension

Hunger in Foodie Paradise

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Have you ever eaten a Maine lobster? Seen an award-winning Downeast chef on the Food Network? Or maybe you’ve visited a widely acclaimed Maine restaurant pioneering the farm-to-table concept. No question about it…Maine is a foodie paradise! But what you may not know is that it’s also a state facing significant food insecurity, especially among its youngest and oldest populations.

How U of Maine Cooperative Extension “Harvest for Hunger” is addressing hunger…

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Maine Harvest for Hunger program’s mission is to “create a replicable, self-sustaining system of collecting, storing and distributing Maine-grown food to food-insecure Mainers.” Maine Master Gardener volunteers – and so many others – are addressing this growing challenge in myriad ways!

Maine Harvest for Hunger (Photo courtesy: Cumberland County Extension, ME)

Maine Harvest for Hunger (Photo courtesy: Cumberland County Extension, ME)

First let’s look at some statistics… While food insecurity affects people in every state, Maine has several unique challenges:

  1. New England’s highest rates of both child and senior food insecurity;
  2. a rapidly graying population which may reduce the number of home gardeners contributing to the program while at the same time increasing the number of households requesting help;
  3. geographical/resource diversity that makes collecting and distributing food particularly time sensitive; and
  4. social factors that often mask real need in some of the state’s wealthiest enclaves. Plus Maine has a substantial transient population that may not have a place, or perhaps the knowledge, to prepare fresh foods.

Growing out of the national Plant a Row for the Hungry effort, the great success of the Maine Harvest for Hunger program (209,178 pounds of produce donated statewide in 2012) is possible because of a dedicated network of home gardeners, community gardens, farms and orchards, food businesses, and countless volunteers who grow, glean or collect produce and see that it gets to the food pantries and soup kitchens for timely distribution.

Where the food comes from…

Out of the 200,000+ pounds donated statewide last year, 121,118 pounds was grown specifically for the program while 89,710 pounds were gleaned from local farms and orchards. Groups growing for the program have included co-worker teams at Idexx Laboratories in Westbrook Maine, employees at Harvard Pilgrim Insurance Company in Portland who are raising veggies in an innovative roof garden, many school and community gardens and even inmates at some of the county jails.

How the food is gathered…

This is often the biggest challenge for any food donation and distribution program. While some produce is fairly sturdy and has a reasonable shelf life – think potatoes, squash and onions – much produce needs to be picked and distributed within a very short time – think berries, tomatoes and cucumbers -, and often on very short notice: a BIG challenge for any volunteer-based organization. Master Gardener volunteers have answered the call to pick or glean time and again throughout the harvesting season. And beyond the gathering of fresh produce, even minimal storage space, especially refrigerated storage, is not always available on a widespread basis.

 

Maine Hunger for Harvest

Maine Master Gardeners (Photo courtesy: Cumberland County Extension Office, ME)

Where the food goes…

One out of every seven households in Maine is food insecure, and that includes families in the sparsely populated north of the state and the much more urbanized – and wealthy – southern half of the state. Food pantries in some of Maine’s wealthiest towns have seen sharply increased demand in recent years, and yes, they are meeting that need!

Maine’s primary food distribution partners are food banks, local food pantries and soup kitchens. The Good Shepard Food Bank, which serves our entire state, distributed an astonishing 13 MILLION pounds of food last year, often through local pantries and soup kitchens. In many areas of the state, local food pantries are really struggling to meet their mission by limited hours and volunteers available, and by a lack of much-needed refrigerated storage.

In Cumberland County, Maine’s most populous county, Portland’s Wayside Food Programs has been an invaluable Harvest for Hunger ally and partner. Wayside increases access to nutritious food to those in need by providing mobile food pantries, building community through (free) shared meals, and helping teach people to grow some of their own foods. A new facility which has consolidated Wayside’s operations, is expected to vastly increase their ability to preserve future harvests and expand outreach programs.

But, let’s go back to the idea of Maine as a total delight for any foodie… Thanks to the efforts of a great many volunteers in the Maine Harvest for Hunger program, much is being done to alleviate food insecurity in Maine, and perhaps THAT is really what “foodie paradise” really means!

Is there a food insecurity challenge in your area? Are Master Gardeners helping to feed the hungry?

Please share your stories and help us spread your good ideas!

Mary Webber
Master-Gardener-in-Training
Yarmouth, Maine
marywebb@maine.rr.com