Food News: CHOW Opens the South Side Community Wellness Center, and New Reports Show the Benefits of Farm to School

Here are some recent news stories you might have missed:

USDA: USDA Awards $34.3 Million to Support Communities’ Local Foods Infrastructure, Increase Access to Fruits and Vegetables
The USDA announced new funding to support local and regional food systems through four grant programs: Farmers’ Market Promotion, Local Food Promotion, Federal-State Marketing Improvement and SNAP Farmers’ Market Support Grants. The grants are administered through the Agricultural Marketing Service and the Food and Nutrition Service. Three projects in the Food & Health Network region are funded by Farmers’ Market Promotion Program and Local Food Promotion Program grants: the Finger Lakes Fresh Food Hub, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County and the Southern Tier East Craft Beverage Incubator. The USDA also announced $16.8 million available under the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, and $8.6 million in support for Community Food Projects. Learn more about grant opportunities on the USDA website.

Press & Sun Bulletin: CHOW Opens Community Wellness Center on South Side
The Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) held a grand opening on Oct. 13 for its new Community Wellness Center at 3 Otseningo St. in Binghamton. Located in a four-bay garage across the street from CHOW headquarters, the facility will serve as a hub for people trying to access services and create healthier, financially stable lives. The center features a community garden, a traditional food pantry and a full-access kitchen where classes on nutrition and cooking will be held. Read more details on the center at pressconnects.com.

Fair Food Network: Double Up in Farmers’ Markets: The Consumer Experience and The Double Up Experience in Rural Michigan Reports Released
The Fair Food Network has released results from the Double Up Food Bucks SNAP program in Michigan. Double Up provides SNAP beneficiaries with a one-to-one match to purchase healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets, essentially doubling recipients’ buying power. FFN found that Double Up participants were much happier with the quality of farmers’ market produce and that participants not only ate a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, but also reduced their intake of chips and sweets. The majority of farmers accepting Double Up Food Bucks said the program increased their income, which allowed them to buy new equipment and plant more acreage. Read the full reports on Fair Food Network.

USDA Blog: Research Shows that Farm to School Works!
October is National Farm to School Month, and the USDA is celebrating by sharing some recent studies that show how beneficial farm to school programs are to children. A research review published earlier this year in the Journal of School Health showed that school gardens made students more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and even had a positive impact on academics. Another recent study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, found that elementary students enrolled in farm to school programs were more open to trying new foods and were more knowledgeable about nutrition and agriculture. Check out the USDA Blog for information on these studies and the forthcoming USDA Farm to School Census.

Cornell Small Farms Program Blog: Log-Grown Mushrooms Now Official Crop in New York
New York State has officially designated “actively managed log-grown woodland mushrooms” as a crop. The bill will allow farmers to designate land used for mushroom cultivation as agricultural, giving them tax breaks and other benefits. Cornell University has been leading the effort to expand cultivation, as forest resources are abundant and farmers have taken an interest in mushroom cultivation in the past few years. The bill was signed by Governor Cuomo at the end of September. Read more on the Cornell Blog.