We are excited to welcome two new members to the Food & Health Network team! Hannah Rion is joining us as our new Farm to School Coordinator. You can reach Hannah at hrion@rhnscny.org! Additionally, Brooke Ward will be serving with us as a Fruit & Vegetable Rx Program AmeriCorps VISTA member. You can email Brooke at bward@rhnscny.org! We look forward to having them on board! Check out their welcome messages below and don’t be afraid to reach out with any questions:

Hannah: My name is Hannah Rion and I am the newly hired Farm to School Coordinator for Food and Health Network program at Rural Health Network of South Central NY. I recently graduated from Paul Smith’s College, where I studied Sustainability and Entrepreneurial Business. Growing up in Delaware County all of my life, I am overjoyed to be serving the South Central New York region in this capacity. My upbringing was heavily focused in agriculture, as I had the pleasure of being raised on a small farm, where I continue to reside today. My appreciation for food and the journey it takes to reach the mouths of many, grew fonder during my time at Paul Smith’s College. My schooling offered me the opportunity to visit farms throughout the Adirondack region and beyond, enabling me with acquired skills and a broader understanding of many of the stresses our food system stakeholders face. I plan on utilizing the knowledge I gained from my experiences at college, in addition to my upbringing, throughout my time in this position.

I am thrilled to be working for an organization that places such importance on health in communities, especially since these are communities that I have grown up in myself. In a time where health is being discussed prominently across the world, I look forward to creatively developing solutions to some of the obstacles local communities are facing. More specifically, I am thrilled to continue to expand upon all the work that has been accomplished before me, thanks to the efforts of many. I am eager to begin collaborating with my fellow Food and Health Network staff members, as well as the many other organizations that share similar objectives. I plan on contributing my drive to help others, accompanied by my passion for fresh food and agriculture to better the farm to school initiative throughout the neighboring counties.

Brooke: My name is Brooke Ward and I am the new FVRx Program VISTA for the Food and Health Network at Rural Health Network at South Central New York. I recently graduated from the State University of New York at Geneseo, where I graduated with an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Sociology. During my time at Geneseo, I recognized my passion for both food systems and food justice. My interests only grew as I learned about the connection between sustainable food systems and the important role these systems play when determining one’s health. Learning about the struggles those in food-insecure communities face has motivated me to help find and execute sustainable solutions through neighboring food retailers, healthcare settings, and other entities.

I am very excited to work with the Food and Health Network and the rest of those at the Rural Health Network of SCNY to help support healthy individuals and communities. As a Syracuse, NY native, I am also eager to learn more about the Southern Tier and the communities within it. In the future, I hope to continue a career that helps mitigate food insecurity in a way that also supports the local area. I am thankful that I have been given the opportunity to serve the Food and Health Network at Rural Health Network at South Central New York as an AmeriCorps VISTA and look forward to learning along the way.