Food News: SNAP Incentives Help Rural Communities, and an Economist Studies the Impact of CSA

Here are some recent news stories you might have missed:

Altarum Institute: SNAP Incentives: A Win for Rural Communities
A new report from the Fair Food Network (FFN) expands on the impact of the Double Up Food Bucks Program, a healthy food incentive program that was implemented in rural Michigan. The program allows families receiving SNAP to double their benefits by giving them an additional dollar to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for every dollar spent at participating farmers’ markets or grocery stores. The FFN report shows that affordable farmers’ markets are just as needed in rural areas as they are in urban locations: rural residents used Double Up at higher rates than urban shoppers, and 35 rural markets joined the program this year. Read more on the Altarum Institute website.

Civil Eats: Are CSA Subscriptions Earning Farmers a Living Wage?
Economic researcher Mark Paul has spent the last year researching how CSA benefits communities in an area of Massachusetts called Pioneer Valley, home to one of the county’s oldest CSA programs. Interestingly, Paul found that total production or sales of local farms does not impact the surrounding community as much as the number of farms does—communities with fewer local farms had higher poverty levels and farm workers were paid less. Although CSA farms had less debt and paid higher wages than farms that did not use the CSA model, CSA farm workers were still not paid a living wage. Learn more at Civil Eats.

Wallace Center: Oregon Uses Schools to Move the Needle on Regional Food
A farm to school incentive program in Oregon has gained massive support and will be expanded throughout the state. The $3.5 million initiative reimburses schools for a portion of their local food purchases, making it easier for schools to buy local. The legislation also includes $1 million for agriculture education. Oregon is the first state to pass farm to school legislation and is already seeing major economic growth. Read more about the program in the Wallace Center’s website.

WBNG: New Community Garden Will Grow on Binghamton’s North Side
The Salvation Army broke ground on a new community garden on Binghamton’s North Side earlier this month with the help of VINES. The garden is located in a formerly vacant lot at 530-532 State St., the former site of the State Bowling Alley. The project was funded through donations from the Binghamton Noon Rotary Club and Lowe’s. Community members can begin planting in spring 2016. Visit WBNG.com to learn more about the project.

American Planning Association: November: 30 Days of Food Systems Planning
Throughout November, the American Planning Association Food Systems Planning Interest Group (APA-FIG) will highlight food systems planning, and they want you to get involved. APA-FIG welcomes people to join the conversation on social media by using #foodsystems. Their website will also highlight a variety of special topics, including interviews with food systems practitioners, a Q&A with USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Deputy Director Debra Tropp, and a special social media conversations about food systems and Thanksgiving. Jump to the APA-FIG blog to read more.

US News & World Report: Best Global Universities for Agricultural Sciences
Cornell University has been ranked the third best university in the world for agricultural sciences. The ranking was based on both the school’s overall reputation and its academic research performance in the area of agriculture. Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is the country’s third-largest college of its kind in the United States and allows students to study fields like animal science, nutrition, viticulture and food science. Read the final rankings on US News & World Report.