Spotlight: DCMO BOCES

In January we announced that FaHN would be expanding our farm to school efforts into Chenango, Delaware, and Otsego Counties. Sidney Central School District was awarded a round three New York State Farm to School grant, and we’ll be working with Sidney CSD and Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego BOCES to expand their successful programming and connect farmers and fresh local produce to Afton, Bainbridge, Walton, Downsville, Unatego, Unadilla Valley, Sherburne-Earlville, Greene, and Oneonta City school districts. FaHN will assist with building the regional farm to school supply chain, conducting farmer outreach, coordinating local procurement efforts, and collaborating on farm to school programs and processes.

Tom Lewis, FaHN VISTA, recently spoke with Kim Corcoran, DCMO BOCES Food Service Director who has been with BOCES for 28 years and is currently working on farm to school initiatives, and Christian DiRado-Owens, FaHN Program Coordinator who will be assisting Sidney and BOCES to discuss our new partnership and supporting farm to school in the region.

Why do you believe is it important for children in schools to have access to healthy meal options?

Kim: Children need to be exposed to and fed fresh, healthy food options for lifelong good health and weight management. They need to have access to fresh local food at all ages. Continue reading

January Spotlight: Reflections on the 2017 Community Food Systems Conference

Written by: Tom Lewis

UC Davis’ Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program defines a sustainable community food system as “a collaborative network that integrates sustainable food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste management in order to enhance the environmental, economic and social health of a particular place.” During my time as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Food & Health Network, I’ve had the chance to learn about and also see first-hand how valuable community food systems are to creating equitable community development. So, when I was given the opportunity to travel to Boston for the 2017 Community Food Systems Conference, I was understandably excited. The conference, hosted by the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, took place in the historic Boston Park Plaza Hotel. The conference was three days long and filled with workshops, a panel moderated by Big Hunger author and former director of the Community food Security Coalition Andy Fisher, many beneficial networking opportunities, and a keynote address by the highly influential First Nations environmentalist, economist, activist, and writer Winona LaDuke. Continue reading

December Spotlight: Bohemian Moon

The Food & Health Network hosted our third annual Partner Recognition Event on November 6th at the Bohemian Moon in Norwich, NY. The annual event brings together diverse stakeholders from across South Central New York and provides the chance to celebrate regional successes from the last year. Dinner for the recognition event was sourced from local farms and prepared by the Bohemian Moon. Thank you to those farms and businesses who contributed to this years meal; Shared Roots Farm, Stone Horse Farm, Peaceful by Nature Farm, Engelbert Farms, Kingbird Farm, Norwich Meadows, Old Barn Market, and Kutik’s Honey Farm!

Tom Lewis, our Food Access & Development Coordinator, interviewed Mi By Kim, owner of the Bohemian Moon on her background and path into the restaurant industry, on her experience with running a restaurant and her involvement with the Food & Health Network:

On her path to Chenango County:

Mi By stressed that she does not come from any specific background and instead decided to pursue, in her words the most non-specific degree that she could think of, Sociology. Indeed, she says that her only background in food came from, ‘having been raised by an impeccable cook who entertained tirelessly all of her life and still loves cooking at 89 years of age.”  Mi By believes that she was lucky to run into a Frenchman who she said “was trained in the whole range of baking.”

Mi By took a number of different paths before she came to Chenango County and during that time she went from Korea to Hawaii, and then to New York City. She said that, “the stock market crash of 1987 was a jolt that took me for a diversion.” Looking for a little more peace and space it led her to finding a, “piece of paradise in Guilford, NY.” Continue reading

FaHN Releases 2017 Year in Review!

The 2017 Food & Health Network Year in Review is officially available online! The report contains updates on our programs and projects from the last year.

2017 YIR Cover Page 2

Read the full Year in Review by clicking on its cover! Thank you to our members, sponsors & partners for a great year! We hope you will join us in 2018.

NY Thursday Harvest Celebration at Tioga Central School District is a Success!

On September 21st, the Food & Health Network joined many partner organizations and community volunteers to celebrate the launch of the NY Thursday farm to school menu program with a Harvest Celebration at Tioga Central School District. The day served as an opportunity to celebrate the school’s Tiger Farm, a living learning lab where students can apply classroom lessons and learn where food comes from and the launch of the NY Thursday Pilot Program in the Southern Tier. The pilot program launched this September in five districts (Chenango Valley, Vestal, Whitney Point, Johnson City, and Tioga) and features a farm to school menu sourced from local farms and processors on the second Thursday every month. Continue reading

August Spotlight: Farm to School Team Travels to Shelburne, Vermont

The 2017-2018 Northeast Farm to School Institute kicked off with a retreat at the beautiful Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont during the last week of June. The institute is a unique year-long professional learning opportunity for twelve school teams from New England and New York. Two of our staff at the Food & Health Network, Erin Summerlee, Director and Christian Dirado-Owens, Program Coordinator had the opportunity to attend the retreat as part of a Johnson City School District Team. They were joined by their fellow team members Adam Frys and Jane Halladay from Johnson City School District, Bryan McCoy of Broome Tioga BOCES Food Service, and Kelly White from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County.

Can you give a brief overview of your experience?DSC_0065

Christian: Shelburne Farms is a very beautiful place, it provided us with a space for our team to come together and also gave us many resources and questions to bring back to our farm to school work. It took us away from our daily work responsibilities and gave us a place where we could be free to focus on exactly what we wanted to achieve. Overall, it was really helpful for us to connect and talk with each other about farm to school and made us feel comfortable moving forward with programming and asking team members to work toward a vision. It was a really good communication builder for the team, and left us with a sense that there are a lot of things happening in other places that gave us an optimism of what’s possible.

Erin: It was really a space away from our work responsibilities to come together as a team, not just those of us who always work together on the school foodservice and nutrition education side of things but different key people within the schools. It was a mix of group time where we could dig into developing our own action plan for the following school year and then learning opportunities and workshops where we  could hear from farm to school programs across the northeast and the country. We also had time to plenty of free to time to meet new people and informally learn from the different school teams. In the end we came up with an action plan and a vision statement for the Johnson City Farm to School Program and are excited to put it into motion throughout the year. Continue reading

July Member Spotlight: Broome-Tioga BOCES Food Service

bt boces logo

Tom Lewis, FaHN VISTA, recently visited the Broome-Tioga BOCES Food Service office in Endicott, NY to speak with Ray Denniston, Special Projects Coordinator, and Julie Raway, MPH, RDN, CDN, SNS, and the Rock on Café Registered Dietitian, to learn more about their organization and the many exciting projects they are currently working on.

Broome-Tioga BOCES Food Service’s mission is “to enrich the educational process by providing a quality child nutrition program” and their vision is “to be nationally recognized as a premier child nutrition program.” Their role as the food service provider for Broome and Tioga County began when the public schools were all individually managed by their own separate directors. BOCES’ role expanded when instead of hiring a new director after another one left, they instead merged with BOCES so they could have shared services. Currently all 15 school districts in Broome and Tioga County are part of the BT-BOCES management program. According to their website their services to districts include: menu planning, purchasing, staff supervision, budgeting, and much more. A unique feature of their setup is that they manage the school district’s programs as far as procurement and training, but the programs themselves are still individually owned by each school district.

What is each of your positions in BT-BOCES and what are some of the programs you both work on?

Julie: I’m a registered dietitian and work with the school nutrition programs in all the districts. I lead the menu development team,  which is comprised of food service directors and managers. I also lead a recipe development team that works on recipes for new menu items. In addition to the menu, there are many other aspects of my job. Some include presentations and workshops with students, media organization including  having our menus read on the TV and the radio, community events and health promotions, and working with our many partners. Essentially, half of my job is food service and the other half is community. The food service piece is working on menus, recipes, and nutrient analysis. The other part is working with community partners to bring the wellness component into our programs and connecting food service, health, community, and hunger. Basically, bringing them all together.

Ray: I do a lot with the purchasing, bidding, specifications, and working directly with Julie. I look at price and Julie looks at nutrition and then if it’s a go, Julie takes it for taste testing, to look at acceptability. On the other side of that, I also work with the community as well. I work with the Broome County Child Hunger Coalition, the Broome County Health Department, Farm to Institution New York State (FINYS), Albany Farm to School, staff training, and anything we can do to emphasize and promote the program and its importance. Mark Bordeau who is the Senior Food Service Director (Mark was recently named Food Service Director of the year by the School Nutrition Association. You can read more about him here.), really oversees the whole program and brings in a lot of our philosophies. The staff created the mission statement. We worked with them in groups until they came up with their scope of where they wanted to take the program. Continue reading