DO COMMUNITY GARDENS FOR URBAN HUNGER. WOTTA HOBBY!
INNOVATIVE FOOD GROWING PROJECTS - Life in the projects: Ratty slum supermarkets were charging triple Beverly Hills prices for fresh produce. Five neighbors in Highbridge, south Bronx decided they had to take action. A large vacant lot in their community was used as an illegal dumping ground and a center for drug activity. Day by day, the group cleared a small section of the lot only to find garbage in that same spot the next day. Eventually, they installed a faucet and hose, then they put up a chain link fence and a locking gate, then they copied keys and planted a garden.
WE USED GO FUND ME TO BUILD A 200$ chain link FENCE and gate,
and to drive to the countryto pick up all these rocks. Gas and truck rental was Fifty bucks!
There is a great need in New York to approach hunger in a more holistic way through projects that unite community members, community groups, and farmers. Over the last century, there have been many changes in how our food comes to us. America's food system has transformed from one where 50% of Americans lived on farms or in small rural communities where they fed themselves from locally grown foods to 80% of us living in or adjacent to cities. Food production is increasingly in the hands of large agricultural businesses, centralized and corporate structures, that are disconnected from and rarely responsive to local community needs. Farmers receive only about 11 cents on the dollar that consumers pay in supermarkets. Most of the food dollar is going into marketing, packaging, and distribution - food in the United States travels an average of 1400 miles and changes hands a half a dozen times before it is consumed.
It's easy to start your own charity. An exciting, kind of WILD concept like this one -- is all that's needed. You write the SECRETARY OF STATE, in your state capital, they give you the papers to fill out, then you can FUND RAISE, GIVE PARTIES. Use revenues for doing good, PLUS salary yourself. Yes, you're entitled to take a salary for running a charity! You can give raves, parties, swap meets, anything you want to raise CASH! You can DO GUERILLA GARDENING, with a GANG. You can send volunteers with tin cans and a photo or pamphlet. Rich people leave their money to you in their will. CHARITY is a career!
At the same time, you do immense good as there is an epidemic of hunger in the richest nation in the world. In your state there are poor people eating out of trash cans, whole families. A tenth of all New Yorkers are at risk of hunger (USDA) and about 1 in 5 children live in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau). Today, there are nearly 3,000 community based soup kitchens and food pantries (Emergency Food Programs) serving food to over 900,000 people each week but really poor folks have no cars, can't afford bus, can't walk or drive or hithchike far enough to reach help. In New York City alone, the number of Emergency Food Programs has grown from about 30 identified in 1980 to over 1,000 today. Too many New Yorkers are forced to choose between food and other basic needs because they lack good jobs, adequate wages, childcare, or quality healthcare. New York has lost more than 300,000 net new jobs since 2001. More than 3 million New Yorkers lack health insurance. It is no wonder that the number of families relying on emergency food resources is increasing. Hunger Action Network's 2003 survey of food programs found a 20% increase in demand for food comparing 2002 and 2003. CURRENT stats are even worse. While there are many New Yorkers in need, there are already several projects in New York where people are making new connections to address those needs. There are community gardens sprouting up in vacant lots providing local opportunities for youth and seniors to connect with the tradition of growing food, farmers distributing their produce through weekly boxes of fresh food at local churches, farmers' markets that are accepting Food Stamps again, and community dinners that serve locally grown foods and teach people how to cook health- fully. We have the potential to address hunger, support our farmers, our kids, our local economy, and improve our communities' health. This manual features some successful options and will hopefully inspire you to work with say a skid row mission or preacher/ church and a chumcluster of your friends, relatives, to make healthy locally grown food more available in your community. You do it and you'll be swimming in good publicity. You'll be FAMOUS! SAINT YOU!
Growing a Healthy New York is primarily comprised of 24 program descriptions, which are divided into nine sections: Community Food Projects, Community Food Security, Community Supported Agriculture, Community Gardening, Ending Hunger through Economic
Development, Hunger Mapping and Community Food Assessments, Improving New Yorkers' Nutrition, Federal Nutrition Program Outreach Campaigns, and Food Recovery. Many programs fit into more than one category, but it is divided this way for the convenience of the
reader. Each of the nine sections contains an overview and explanation of the categories for those who may not be familiar with programs such as Community Supported Agriculture or hunger mapping. In addition, we have included a resource section at the end of the manual with nine sections that correspond to the nine program sections. For example, there are many resources available to help folks start community gardens, etc.
We encourage folks to contact programs that interest them to find out more about how they
operate. The projects are driven by passionate individuals who have been generous about
sharing their experience and expertise with us and others across the state. Groups can also
contact Hunger Action Network or SENSES for assistance to start such a project.
Growing a Healthy New York - 2004
Hunger Action Network of New York State (HANNYS) and the Statewide Emergency
Network for Social and Economic Security (SENSES) sincerely thank the programs
highlighted in this manual for their contributions, dedication, and passion for ending hunger
and promoting food justice. firstname.lastname@example.org • www.hungeractionnys.org
In order to address hunger and strengthen communities, many groups have initiated projects
that extend beyond the scope of providing people with emergency food through a soup kitchen
or a food pantry. Often times, the projects are initiated by Emergency Food Providers, faith
groups, or community based groups in an effort to implement a more holistic approach to
ending hunger. The Seed and Seedling Distribution Program, for example, provides an
opportunity for low-income people to grow their own food through the distribution of seeds
and basic plant care instructions. The Grow an Extra Row Campaign taps into the potential of
gardeners and citizens and encourages them to grow an extra row of fruits or vegetables for
donation to Emergency Food Programs or other community agencies. Food Buying Clubs
bring together several people in one community and cut down food costs by cooperatively
We hope you will be inspired to duplicate some of these projects and start growing toward a
greater harvest for your community.
Food $EN$E, a project of the Food Bank of Central New York, is a food buying club. Food
buying clubs are programs that operate by bringing together several people in one
community and cooperatively purchasing food. The large volume of the purchase allows the
cooperative to enjoy wholesale prices and the cost savings are passed along to the consumer.
The Food $en$e program is designed to increase self-sufficiency by helping individuals stretch
their food dollars.
The Food Bank organizes this program with 42 sites in a 16 county area providing an average
of 1,500 packages each month for families and individuals. In order to be a Food $en$e site,
you must be affiliated with a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt agency. For example, there are currently
Food $en$e sites that are located in churches, local fire departments, and community centers.
Monthly Food $en$e packages and promotional materials are created by the Food Bank. A
newsletter is developed and distributed to each site coordinator. This monthly newsletter
provides coordinators with a list of the items included in the current month's Food $en$e
package, the projected package for the following month, and recipes using food items from the
unit. Site coordinators are responsible for taking orders from customers, placing the order with
the Food Bank and distributing the packages on a specific date. There are no income
restrictions - anyone can participate. The cost of the package is $15.50 per month; participants
pre-pay with cash or an EBT card and pick up their Food $en$e packages at the end of the
month. A food unit contains 10-12 items, including fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and
staple food items. For example, the September 2004 package included: flour tortillas,
shredded Jack Cheese, Pinto beans, salsa, ground turkey, apples, fajita vegetable mix, baby
carrots, bagged lettuce salad, fresh eggs, hot dogs, and ham steaks.
Low-Income Involvement in the Organization of the Program
The Food $en$e Program could not run without the assistance of site coordinators. Site
coordinators distribute the packages monthly and collect money to be sent to the Food Bank.
Barriers Encountered and Solutions
Transition to the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system was difficult for some site
coordinators. Because food stamp coupons were replaced with EBT cards in 2000, Food
$en$e sites now have to utilize a voucher system to accept food stamps. This is because Food
$en$e sites do not have the point of sale devices that are needed to process the EBT cards. The
voucher system can be difficult to use. To address this problem, the Food Bank of Central
New York has provided training and assistance so that coordinators could learn how to use the
voucher system accurately and efficiently.
The cost of the food package paid by participants covers the cost of buying the necessary food
items from vendors. It is a self-sustained program. There are no outside funds involved.
E-mail address: email@example.com
"What am I going to do with all this zucchini?" For some vegetable gardeners, this is the
million-dollar question come late summer. Others ask the same question in reference to
anything from tomatoes to green beans to rhubarb. With nearly 1 million New Yorkers
visiting food pantries and soup kitchens each week, we have a simple answer for gardeners
with abundance: Bring them to Emergency Food Programs! In fact, we'd like gardeners to
grow specifically for their neighbors in need!
In 2003, the Food Bank of the Southern Tier initiated a Plant-a-Row for the Hungry (PAR)
Campaign in south-central New York State. Organized PAR campaigns throughout the United
States have collected millions of pounds of fresh produce for hungry Americans since their
beginnings in the 1990's. PAR in the Southern Tier used free materials produced by the Garden
Writers Association of America (GWAA) to help promote the program, including small row
markers that were given out to gardeners, donor receipts, and a large sign used to advertise the
Food Bank Garden. GWAA also provided the Food Bank with resources on how to engage the
local community and media in PAR efforts.
The nutritionist at the Food Bank of the Southern Tier coordinated the PAR campaign with
assistance from food pantries in two counties. At two food pantry coalition meetings, the
nutritionist presented the PAR idea and asked for pantries to act as produce drop-off sites.
Twenty pantries agreed to be part of the program, and the Food Bank designed two PAR
brochures (one for each participating county) for distribution to local gardeners. Participating
pantries received these brochures to give to neighbors and community members, receipts to
provide gardeners interested in a tax credit, and a tally sheet to record the pounds of produce
they collected. Brochures were also given to Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Cornell
Master Gardeners Program, local nurseries, and farm markets. About 400 total brochures were
produced. PAR was also promoted in The Harvester, the Food Bank's quarterly donor
newsletter. By November 2003, gardeners had donated 4,243 pounds of produce to the Food
Bank and pantries. Another 2,000 pounds were harvested from the Food Bank garden, a 5,600
square foot patch tended by local volunteers.
For aspiring PAR campaigns, here are some helpful hints from the Southern Tier:
Start your campaign small!
Request PAR materials from the Garden Writers Association at 1-877-492-2727.
Utilize contacts with the media, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and businesses to get the
Publicize PAR throughout the season to remind gardeners.
Identify multiple drop-off sites with different hours of operation. Food pantries are
Emphasize the importance of tracking pounds and developing a goal. This will help build
your campaign from one year to the next.
A Boy Scout has undertaken an Eagle Scout Project growing fruits and vegetables at his home
for distribution by the Food Bank. A local newspaper featured an article on the project and
included information for other gardeners to support PAR.
PAR in the Southern Tier has expanded in 2004 to include another county and five more food
pantries. The goal is to collect 10,000 pounds of fresh produce.
Low-Income Involvement in the
Organization of the Program
Low-income households visiting food pantries and soup kitchens are the recipients of PAR
Barriers Encountered and Solutions
If you plan on collecting information about the amount of food donated to programs, here are
two examples of barriers that the Food Bank of the Southern Tier had to overcome:
Not all food pantries had scales to weigh donated produce. To address this, the Food Bank
asked agencies to make educated guesses or have donors approximate weights.
Only 4 of 20 pantries collected produce from gardeners and returned information on the
number of pounds donated. For 2004, the Food Bank made the explanation of the program
and the paperwork easier to encourage reporting. The Food Bank has also been contacting
pantries throughout the growing season to check their progress.
The Food Bank of the Southern Tier funds staff time and materials for this program. However,
funds are usually not needed to coordinate a PAR campaign, and many organizations have
done so successfully without any expenditure.
Food Bank of the Southern Tier
Matthew Griffin, MS, Nutrition Resource Manager
945 County Route 64
Elmira, NY 14903
Growing a Healthy New York - 2004
Every year truckloads of vegetable seedlings (young vegetable plants) go to waste because
commercial greenhouses and home gardeners start to grow more plants than they can use.
Hunger Action Network established a seed and seedling distribution program several years ago
to enable New Yorkers to grow some of their own nutritious food by connecting them with
many of the seedlings that would have gone to waste.
The seedling project was started in conjunction with an Emergency Food Program (EFP)
vegetable garden that Hunger Action co-sponsored in Albany at the State Office Campus. The
garden yielded up to a ton of fresh produce each year for distribution to local food pantries.
Hunger Action approached local greenhouses for a seedling donation for the garden. The
response to our request for donations was so overwhelming that we decided to distribute
several thousand extra seedlings to the guests of local EFPs so that they could grow their
We were so inspired by the momentum of the project that we decided to help start other
seedling projects across the state. In addition to the seedling donations, we garnered donations
of seeds, which come in small packages in a variety of different vegetables. We developed a
manual, "Sowing Seeds…Harvesting Hope," which details how to run a seed and seedling
distribution program. Then, we conducted outreach to various non-profits and food programs
throughout the state explaining the program and offering our technical assistance and the guide
to help start the project. We distributed the guides to groups who were interested in becoming
sponsors of the program and also helped connect groups with free seeds or seedlings. The
guide includes information on the resources and materials needed to
start a seedling distribution program, information on how to organize
the program, tips for taking care of vegetable plants, sample outreach
materials, and various garden resources.
Groups have been very creative in adapting the project to their
communities' needs; some groups have linked with youth programs to
implement the project and some have set up gardening in a bucket demonstrations to
encourage community members to participate. Depending on how you adapt the program for
your community, you will need an outreach plan, a coordinator, a list of local nurseries, seeds
or seedlings, a method of picking up and distributing the seeds or seedlings, a vehicle, storage
space, distribution site, and basic plant care instructions. Your level of time commitment can
vary, too. You can run a small program by setting aside one hour a week to pick up and
deliver vegetable seeds or plants. You can also distribute a large amount of seedlings and spend
an hour or two each day for several weeks to coordinate activities. Groups can contact Hunger
Action for the guide or download it online at www.hungeractionnys.org.
"Sowing Seeds…Harvesting Hope"
A Seed and Seedling Distribution Program
Here are the program basics:
1. Contact nurseries, greenhouses and farms. Conduct a mailing or call your local greenhous-
es, nurseries and farms to request donations of seeds or seedlings in the spring. Many plant
outlets are anxious to clear out their inventory in the early summer and have leftover plants
that they are glad to donate, rather than seeing them go to waste. You can find a list of plant
outlets in your local yellow pages or contact the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets
at 518-457-2087 or http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/PI/cover.htm
You may also be able to obtain free seeds if you do not have space for seedlings. The America
the Beautiful Fund (ABF) gives away free seeds for vegetables and other plants. The
application to request seeds is a simple one-page form. You have to pay for the shipping costs
of the seeds. Contact ABF at (202) 638-1649 or http://www.america-the-beautiful.org.
2. Outreach and distribution plan. You should develop a method for informing people about
your program and the actual distribution of seeds or seedlings. A flyer may be helpful in
informing people about planned distributions. You may be able to set up a table for
distribution at a street fair. Other good places to distribute vegetable seedlings include food
pantries, soup kitchens, urban community gardens, subsidized or supported housing
complexes, schools, veteran's homes, and senior housing.
3. Coordinate pick up of seedlings. Make follow-up phone calls in late May or early June to
make arrangements for picking up the donations. You will need a vehicle if you are planning
to pick up seedlings from a greenhouse. You may need a place to store the seeds or seedlings
if you are distributing them over the course of a few days.
4. Provide basic plant care instructions with the seeds or seedlings. Make gardening
instructions available for people who may be growing vegetables for the first time. Hunger
Action has a flyer on basic plant care instructions that we can provide, and your local
Cooperative Extension office should have these materials, too.
5. Send letters thanking contributors. You should send thank you letters to groups that donate
seeds or seedlings to your projects. Ask them to keep your program in mind for the future.
Seedling programs have many benefits. Perhaps the most important is the increased level of
food security experienced by families who have the opportunity to grow their own vegetables.
Families also experience the added benefit of increasing their horticultural skills and
developing an increased connection with, and respect for, the environment.
Growing food is also an important part of our cultural heritage, a heritage that many of us have
lost touch with. Reclaiming seedlings that would otherwise be disposed of also helps limit our
solid waste. The rewards are numerous.
Low-Income Involvement in the Organization of the Program
A seed and seedling distribution program is a simple, effective way to enable low-income
people to grow fresh, wholesome food for themselves and their families. Vegetables grown in
a container or in a backyard are an additional source of affordable, nutritious food.
Low-income New Yorkers that have participated in this program have informed us that they
were surprised by how easy it was to grow their own food and by the large amount of food that
they were able to grow.
America the Beautiful Fund (www.freeseeds.org) provided free seeds, though Hunger Action
pays for shipping costs, which are roughly $15 per 100 seed packets. Staff and outreach was
supported through various grants including the Community Food and Nutrition Program,
through the New York State Community Action Association and the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services; however, it is possible to coordinate the program with very few
staff and modest amounts of funding. NYS greenhouses and nurseries donated various
Hunger Action Network of New York State
NYC: Susannah Pasquantonio
260 W. 36th Street, Suite 504
New York, NY 10018
Albany: Sheila McCarthy
275 State Street, 4th Floor
Albany, NY 12210
Community Food Security
To succeed in overcoming hunger, many groups are becoming involved in a growing national
movement known as Community Food Security or Food Justice. Community Food Security is
a different approach to ending hunger that not only seeks to provide people with food, but also
examines where the food is coming from, if it is healthy, and how it is grown. Community
Food Security aims to end hunger by uniting regional economies, communities in need, and
locally grown food.
Community Food Security's basic principle is that all people should have access to an adequate
amount of nutritious, culturally appropriate food, at all times, through local, non-emergency
sources. Advocates, community organizers, farmers, faith groups, concerned citizens, students
and others are currently working together to reach this goal and to ensure the basic human right
to food in New York State.
New York's food pantries and soup kitchens are an essential front line in fighting hunger,
giving food to people in need. Yet, the demand for food continues to increase while the root
causes of hunger persist. In response, many groups who work to end hunger are beginning to
explore how we might improve access to healthy food within the context of our "food system."
A food system is essentially a web of connections, from production to consumer, through
which food makes it to your table. Our typical food system plays an important role in the
hunger crisis in our state. In the case of a person or family that is food insecure, linkages
within the food system are weak at some point, and as a result adequate food does not reach
their table. Examples may include the following: an elderly person living alone may be
physically unable to access a farmers' market or nearby supermarket; many lower income
people live in neighborhoods with convenience stores that typically do not offer affordable or
locally grown produce; families living in outlying regions of a county cannot use WIC
Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupons at small farm stands near their homes; and many farmers
are struggling to find markets alongside community members unable to meet their food needs.
These are examples of systemic problems that may involve a range of challenges, such as lack
of transportation, limited income, businesses not willing to open shop in inner cities, or
inadequate links between local farmers and their communities.
By providing food for people solely through the emergency food system, we focus on treating
the symptom of an insufficient food system. In contrast, the community food security
movement addresses the root causes of hunger and strives to make a more democratic food
system that gives communities greater control in choosing how their food is produced,
distributed, and accessed.
The mission of the East New York Farms! project is to organize youth and adult residents to
address hunger and malnutrition in their community and to protect and restore their
environment by promoting local and regional sustainable agriculture and community-based
development. East New York Farms! is a collaborative project of the United Community
Centers, the Local Development Corporation of East New York, Cornell Cooperative
Extension, and the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development.
The project's goals are to: improve community nutrition and access to sustainable foods;
encourage sustainable community development; educate youth and engage them in improving
their community; preserve open space in the form of community gardens; and create a public
To achieve these goals, the project focuses on five programmatic areas that work together and
comprise a sustainable revitalization strategy for the economically and environmentally
distressed neighborhood of East New York in Brooklyn. The programmatic areas include: the
East New York Farmers' Market, a Youth Internship Program, Gardener Organizing and
Technical Assistance, Alternative Food Systems: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
with a Community Garden Component, and Community Nutrition Education.
East New York Farmers' Market
The market serves as a community space and a catalyst for the development of local economy
between micro-entrepreneurs and local consumers needing quality produce and neighborhood
retail convenience. The market provides a quality food source for the whole neighborhood,
including an outlet for residents to redeem WIC and Senior Center Farmers' Market Nutrition
Program coupons, through which 85% of the market sales are made. A total of 20 urban
gardeners, 15 local craftspeople, 3 farmers, and youth interns sell at the market each year and
market fees help support the project. The three regional farmers who sell at the market are all
East New York Farms!
Regardng these family farmers within New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. One of the farmers is a
certified transitional farmer, who is making the transition to become an organic farmer. All of
the gardeners, in addition to the youth interns, grow using organic methods.
Youth Internship Program
The youth program consists of an integrated curriculum that engages youth in a tangible
project for the benefit of the community. Youth are recruited from local middle schools and
paid a stipend for their work through an internship in which they grow organic vegetables and
sell them at their own stand at the market. Growing vegetables, executing building projects in
the garden, and exploring why we grow food using organic methods helps to reinforce
ecology, biology, and math concepts the youth learn in school. Hands-on work in urban
agriculture also provides an opening for youth to explore social inequalities such as hunger and
food access in their community and to discover their own potential to be agents of social
change. Issue and skilled-based workshops give youth the opportunity to reflect on their
experiences together, to practice social skills, and to think about the social context of their
work. Through this process, young people participate in their community's civic and
economic development and effect change in their local food system.
Gardener Organizing and Technical Assistance
The project recruits community and backyard gardeners to grow and sell crops at the farmers'
market, and provides them with agricultural training, help from the youth program, and basic
supplies. Training emphasizes environmentally sustainable gardening methods, including
composting, rainwater harvesting, water conservation, and organic pest control. The project
also supports gardeners in advocating for preservation for their gardens and educating fellow
community members. In addition, gardeners who have been part of the project for several
years form a core group, who help advertise for the farmers' market, interview applicants for
the youth program, and mentor new gardeners, as well as plan for the project's future.
Alternative Food Systems: Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) with a
Community Garden Component
This program provides a way for East New Yorkers to purchase a weekly vegetable "share" at
a reduced price from a family farmer who sells at the market, with subsidized shares available
for low-income members. Members volunteer their time at distribution and with other CSA
tasks throughout the season. This project is in its beginning stages, and the CSA coordinator
is in the process of helping members organize a "core group," to take on responsibility for
collective decision-making and administrative aspects of the program as it grows. A grant
received from Hunger Action Network this year has made it possible to integrate the CSA with
our youth garden. The addition of new compost allowed for the expansion of the garden
growing area and increased food production. In this expanded area, the youth interns grew
some produce that the CSA farmer did not grow, including collard greens and cucumbers,
which were then added to the main CSA share.
This connection with the garden also creates additional opportunities for CSA members to
learn first-hand about sustainable agriculture through volunteer days in the garden, pick-your-
own cherry tomatoes days, and events such as this year's kick-off party where youth gave tours
to CSA members highlighting sustainable growing methods.
Community Nutrition Education
The objective of this program is to promote good nutrition and awareness of sustainable food
systems for community residents. Through this program, Cornell University Cooperative
Extension has conducted comprehensive food demonstrations at the Farmers' Market for the
past three years. In 2004, a series of cooking courses in the United Community Centers
kitchen in the spring and fall, and cooking demonstrations at local WIC and Senior centers will
give community residents a chance to learn hands-on nutrition and cooking skills.
Barriers Encountered and Solutions
As a project committed to long-term grassroots improvements in the community's food
system, East New York Farms! is constantly in competition with the mainstream,
"convenience" food culture that dominates the neighborhood. Less nutritious food that is not
sustainably grown is usually more abundant, more convenient, more recognized, and appears
more affordable than the products offered through the farmers' market and CSA program. The
solution to this barrier has been education. Workshops with both youth and community
gardeners stress sustainable, low-input growing techniques. Outreach to the general public,
through local health centers, schools, block associations, tenants' associations, churches,
shelters, daycare centers, and more, has also emphasized the health, environmental, and
economic benefits of a more local and sustainable food system, as well as the viability of such
systems. Education about local food systems has also been necessary to please customers who
are not informed about seasonal foods. For example, people who come in November looking
for strawberries would be unhappy with the lack of selection since local strawberries would
not be in season. This season, East New York Farms! has begun posting a sign at the market
entrance each Saturday listing produce availability for each week, and projected availability
for the following week.
Also, because small sustainable farmers do not receive any federal subsidizes, their produce is
often too expensive for very low-income families. For this reason East New York Farms! has
chosen to subsidize CSA shares for members who meet income eligibility guidelines. This
system has been successful and attracted 25 low-income members this season. Extensive
outreach has also been conducted to local WIC and senior centers to improve redemption rates
of Farmers' Market Nutrition Program coupons since these vouchers allow low-income
residents to access the produce for free.
A unique aspect of the program is the focus on long-term and sustainable changes in the local
food system. East New York Farms! takes this approach because lack of access to good
quality and nutritious foods, and associated diet-related illnesses like diabetes, high-blood
pressure, and heart disease have in recent years become a more pressing issue in the
community than "hunger" in the traditional sense.
In addition, the focus on engaging the whole community, and particularly in pairing youth
interns with elderly gardeners in need of assistance, provides an opportunity for positive
intergenerational exchange that is not otherwise abundant.
Low-Income Involvement in the
Organization of the Program
East New York is largely a low-income community, and community members are integrated
into all levels of the planning and execution of the project. Gardeners and craftspeople who
have been part of the project for several years form a core group, who help advertise for the
farmers' market, interview applicants for the youth program, and mentor new gardeners, as
well as plan for the project's future. In the Community Supported Agriculture Program, where
all members are invited to participate in planning, low-income members comprise over 85%
of the membership and 100% of the core group. The core group meets monthly to make
collective decisions and handle administrative aspects of the program. Even in the youth
gardening internship, youth spend their first day at the program setting and agreeing on shared
rules and expectations that will govern their program. Second year interns take on
increased responsibility for leading other interns and helping to plan and execute lessons and
Public Policy Component
Youth interns have continually been involved in political action to preserve their project.
During the past season, interns collected signatures on petitions: one to save their garden from
being slated for development, and another to save the market site from being slated for
development. Also, this spring East New York Farms! hosted a food and nutrition conference
attended by 60 community members, all of whom were encouraged at registration and
throughout the day to sign postcards to oppose proposed funding cuts to the Farmers' Market
Nutrition Program in 2005. The postcards were collected by youth interns and sent to state and
In addition, East New York Farms! staff continually works to inform gardeners, farmers'
market customers, and CSA members about relevant food policy issues. They are currently in
the process of forming the East New York Food Policy Council, initiated at the conference in
March, that will create a venue for more consistent, coordinated, and extensive community
action on public policy.
The East New York Farms! Project receives funding from: U.S.D.A. Community Food
Projects, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, The Federation of Protestant
Welfare Agencies, Heifer International, Independence Community Foundation, the Indirect
Vitamins Purchasers Antitrust Litigation Settlement administered by the NYS Attorney
General and by the Hunger Action Network of NYS, Just Food, and Little Red School House/
Elizabeth Irwin Roundtable.
East New York Farms!
613 New Lots Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11207
GardenShare is a nonprofit network of gardeners and others working to end hunger and build
community food security in northern New York State. Each spring since 1996, GardenShare
has recruited North Country gardeners to share their garden harvests with their neighbors by
donating homegrown fruits and vegetables to 30 participating food pantries in St. Lawrence
County. Over the years, some 200 households have volunteered in this way.
With such an abundance of food growing in our backyards, it makes sense to share in this way.
But, of course, charity alone won't end hunger. So in recent years, GardenShare has begun
focusing on efforts to build community food security in the region.
To do this effectively, GardenShare wanted to develop a conceptual framework upon which to
organize their efforts. They also wanted to come up with a way that the public could visualize
what community food security means-to draw a picture in people's minds. The result was the
"Eight Hands at Your Table" campaign, which introduces the concept of community food
security by inviting people to make room for eight hands around their dinner table: the farmer's
hands, the cook's hands, their neighbor's hands, and their own hands.
The campaign was kicked off by distributing 2,000 Eight Hands table tents to supporters and
social service agencies, at public events, and to restaurants, which displayed them on their
tables around Hunger Awareness Day, which takes place annually on the third Thursday of
March. The colorful table tent reads, "Each time you sit down for a meal, make room for these
eight hands at your table." The text introduces the meaning of each set of hands and then goes
on to suggest practical ways to make room for these hands at every meal:
Support Local Farms
Shop at farmers' markets
Ask your supermarket to sell locally grown food
Join a food co-op where your voice will be heard on food issues
Grow fruits and vegetables in your
own backyard or in a community garden
Buy shares in a Community Supported
Agriculture program, which links consumers directly with local growers
Celebrate Local Foods - have feasts, community pay parties Learn to prepare regional cuisine
INVITE community's ethnics to recipe teachng classes.
Eat fresh foods from a local farm, not processed foods from a box. TEACH "TAKE TIME TO DO REAL MEALS"
Vary your diet according to what fruits and vegetables are in season
Support restaurants that offer locally grown food on their menus
Encourage schools and colleges to
serve locally grown food in their cafeterias
Cultivate Community Generosity
Invite friends over for a "slow food" meal
Share your garden harvest with your neighbors
at a food pantry
Eat meals with your family and occas invite in another!
Lobby legislators for public policies that
benefit people living on a low-income
DISABLED folks cannot qualify to get food stamps. Start an initiative to give them a new law
Talk with your friends, your family, and your
coworkers about food and hunger issues
This public education campaign has been backed up by the following yearlong projects aimed
at addressing hunger and building community food security in the North Country:
A collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension to create three home gardens for
low income households;
An expansion of GardenShare's support for two existing community gardens, including
hiring a summer garden advisor for one of these gardens, which serves some 150 people;
An expansion of the collaborative Farm-to-School Support Project, to include two more
schools and to increase the number of participating growers;
The creation of a hunger/food educational component for the Farm-to-School project;
An increase in the frequency of GardenShare's newsletter and an upgrade of the website;
The inclusion of legislative action suggestions in the newsletter and website; and
The initiation of an annual "Growing Community Award," presented to an individual or
group in recognition of their efforts to create community food security in the region.
In future years, GardenShare's specific projects will no doubt change. But the "Eight Hands at
Your Table" concept will continue to provide a guiding vision for GardenShare's work to build
community food security in the North Country.
Low-Income Involvement in the
Organization of the Program
The GardenShare board member taking the lead on creating home gardens for low-income
households is a former food stamp recipient. Low-income community members are a part of
"Your Neighbor's Hands" helping to improve public policies. Low-income households
visiting food pantries are the recipients of donated harvest produce.
Public Policy Component
The legislation action suggestions we make are drawn from legislative alerts received from
Hunger Action Network, the Community Food Security Coalition, Bread for the World, and
Funding for the non-legislative components of the Eight Hands campaign was provided by the
Indirect Vitamins Purchasers Antitrust Litigation Settlement administered by the NYS
Attorney General and by Hunger Action Network of NYS. Additional funding came from
GardenShare's own local supporters.
GardenShare's "Eight Hands at Your Table" Campaign
860 Maple Ridge Rd.
Richville, NY 13681
Growing a Healthy New York -
New York State school meal programs serve nearly two million meals everyday, with total
spending estimated at $500 million annually. This represents a huge potential market for New
York farm products. Yet aside from milk, only a small percentage of the food currently being
served in our schools is coming from local farms.
The Farm-to-School program helps facilitate and promote the purchase of New York State
farm products by schools, universities and other educational institutions. New York State is a
leader in a variety of farm products, ranking first in cabbage and cottage cheese, second in
apples and sweet corn, and third in grapes, snap beans and milk. By purchasing New York farm
products, local school districts not only help farmers increase their profits and improve farm
economic viability, but they also provide all children, regardless of economic background,
with nutritious and healthy foods. This program is a win-win for both our schools and our agri-
cultural community, benefiting the health of New York State's children and local economies.
Hannibal Central Schools coordinates a Farm-to-School Project in the Central New York
region. The program began as a participant in Farm-to-School Pilot Projects coordinated
through the Cornell Cooperative Extension Farm-to-School Program.
The school food supplier, Dave Johnson of C's Farms, is a key player in the coordination of
this project. He has helped contact numerous farmers and has gone to the farmers to pick up
the food. New items were introduced into the school menu including fresh pears, plums, baked
potatoes, salt potatoes, and red diced potatoes. Most of these products are available all school
yearlong and the students have accepted these items. Working with the food supplier ensured
that the school would have transportation for the project.
Hannibal Central School’s Farm-to-School Pilot Project
Growing a Healthy New York -
Before setting up the project, it was necessary to identify which locally grown products would
be most in demand amongst students. In spring of 2003, with the help of the Oswego County
Farm Bureau, the Cornell Cooperative Extension office of Oswego County and the Cornell
University pilot manager, the groups united their efforts and held a "New York Harvest Health
Fair" for all students (grades 3 through 6), their parents and staff. This event was held during
the day. Students had the opportunity to choose which types of produce they were most inter-
ested in. The students test tasted several items such as milk, cheese, apples and cider. They
also learned about corn and squash and were able to milk a man-made cow named Clover! The
Food Bank of the Southern Tier prepared and served a bean chili for students to taste. Three
varieties of apples were taste tested and students voted for their favorite apple. Empire Apples won!
In fall of 2004, the "New York Harvest Health Fair" for students in grades 5 through 8 was
held in the evening so that more parents could attend the event. New taste testing dishes were
provided. An apple crisp was featured along with scallop potatoes and coleslaw. We used vari-
eties of apples, potatoes and onions to show how different varieties give different tastes and
textures. We also had several displays, ranging from herb growers to a Christmas tree grower.
It is important to provide education about the importance of eating locally grown food to teach
students and their parents about where their food comes from and its nutritious value through
events such as the "New York Harvest Health Fair." The school also participates in the Fruit
and Vegetable of the Month campaign produced through Cornell University and highlight
recipes throughout the month. Nutrition information and recipes are included in school menus
and posted in the school website and informative bulletins are sent home with students to share
with their families.
Low-Income Involvement in the Organization of the Program</font>
Food Service staff operates the Farm-to-School project at Hannibal Central Schools in
collaboration with local farmers and the school food service supplier. The school ensures that
all school children have access to fresh local fruits and vegetables as part of school meals that
are either regular, free or reduced in cost. A TRIUMPH FOR ALL. WIN WIN!
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