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Greetings! We are very happy to introduce you to our new AmeriCorps VISTA member, Maggie Reeger, who will be serving with the Food and Health Network full-time for the next year.

We are also happy to announce that FaHN has received a grant from the Roger Kresge Foundation to support our Summer Food Access Project in Broome County. The project is the first step in a multi-year, collaborative initiative to increase participation of children in free summer meal programs, reducing food insecurity and improving health. The Kresge Foundation's investment will help support FaHN's work to conduct an assessment of the Summer Food Service Program, develop targeted outreach and pilot strategies to address barriers to participation in urban and rural Broome County. You can learn about summer meals activity below. 
Hello! My name is Maggie Reeger, and I am thrilled to be the new AmeriCorps VISTA with the Food and Health Network! I grew up on a vegetable farm in western Pennsylvania, so I learned the value of small-scale farming and local agriculture at a young age. My summers were spent outside in the fields alongside family members as we planted, picked, and ate fresh fruits and vegetables. I did not fully appreciate the value of such an upbringing until I realized the level of food insecurity that exists across the US (and the world). Being involved in a network of people who share the same commitment to increasing access to locally grown foods will undoubtedly lead to an exciting and productive year for me.

I graduated from Bridgewater College in Virginia this past May with a degree in Global Studies. While I will miss living in the Shenandoah Valley, I have always loved traveling and getting to know new places. I’m looking forward to becoming better acquainted with the 8 counties the Food and Health Network serves and beyond.

Being an AmeriCorps VISTA gives me the perfect opportunity to become immersed in a field in which I have great interest but no formal training. My background with farming, farmers’ markets, and CSA, combined with college classes focused on global and regional poverty, led me to the Food and Health Network. I am hoping to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Health after gaining professional skills as a VISTA. Thanks for letting me be part of the Food and Health Network!

 You can contact Maggie at
Local Farm Spotlight: Closer to the Heart Farms
Closer to the Heart Farms, run by owner Adrian Biscontini, is a farm sponsor of the Food & Health Network. We met up at the Otsiningo Park Farmers' Market in Binghamton to chat about his farm and opportunities for local food in the area. Adrian is also market manager for the Otsiningo Park Farmers’ Market.

About the farm: Closer to the Heart Farms is located in the Town of Binghamton on rented land. I’m growing one acre of vegetables, and have raised grass fed-beef in the past. The farm is not certified organic, but uses sustainable growing practices and no chemicals. This is my fourth year of farming in Binghamton.
About the farmer: How did you become interested in farming?
I became interested in farming while living around Portland, Maine, where there is a strong agricultural focus. After that I apprenticed on a farm in the Hudson Valley. Friends told me that Binghamton was an up and coming area and encouraged me to come here to farm.
  • Favorite crops to grow: Tomatoes, different varieties of peppers, and things that no one else is growing.
  • Favorite things to eat this summer: Tomato salads, veggie stir-fry’s, and everything raw from the field!
Do you have any plans to expand your farm or sell to new markets?
Yes, right now I am renting and am looking for land to buy, but it’s hard to find land with soil that’s good for vegetable production. In the future I’d like to expand to raising grass-fed beef and possibly meat chickens. There has been an increase in demand from restaurants and I’d like to sell more to them once I can expand production. I’m also interested in selling a few crops wholesale at some point down the line.

What do you like the most about farming?
I enjoy being really busy for part of the year and less busy at other times, working outside and working with my hands. I also like doing something good for the community.
What challenges are you facing as a beginning farmer?
Securing funding to buy land is a challenge; along with all of the normal challenges associated with a startup business.
What do you think is needed to support the local food community?
I think that we need more consumer education about why you should support local farms and buy locally.
Why did you get involved with Food & Health Network?
I think that we have very similar goals of getting more local, healthy food into the community and am happy to be involved and help out however I can.
Where can we find your vegetables?
I sell at the Otsiningo Park Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, and to local restaurants around Binghamton. You can contact me at and visit
August 11, 2015
Tuesday, 6:30pm - 8:30pm 
Growing Fall Vegetables 

CCE- Tompkins County 
615 Willow Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14850

Click here for more information. 
August 15, 2015
Saturday, 2pm - 5pm
Groundswell's Good Afternoon at Good Life Farm 

Good Life Farm, 4058 Hickok Rd, Interlaken, NY
Click here for more information.
August 18, 2015
Tuesday, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Fresh Food Face Off
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County
Cutler Botanic Garden, 840 Upper Front St, Binghamton
Learn more and purchase tickets here.

August 20, 2015
Thursday, 1pm
FRAC Afterschool Meals Matter: 
Back to School: Afterschool Meals 101 

Register here.
Save the Date! 
American Farmland Trust Harvesting Opportunities Conference 
November 4, 2015.
Albany, NY  

Click here for more information. 

NESAWG It Takes a Region Conference 
November 13-14, 2015
Saratoga Springs, NY.
Click here for more information. 
Policy Update: 2016 Appropriations & CNR 2015
From the National Young Farmers' Coalition: Last month, Congress reached a major milestone in its annual appropriations process: both the relevant committees in the House and the Senate passed funding bills for the USDA. 

While this year’s spending bills are by no means final, the Committee drafts provide a pretty clear picture of where things are headed. Overall, funding is down compared to last year. Several important programs for new and beginning farmers remain unfunded. You can read more from the National Young Farmers' Coalition on their blog, or from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2015:
Last week, Senators introduced the bi-partisan Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act of 2015. This marker bill includes two CNR summer food service program priorities: a non-congregate meal option and a Summer EBT program. These targeted options will be available to reach kids in rural and other underserved communities. You can read more about the legislation and sign a letter in support here:

Summer Meal Highlights around the Region 

Below are updates from just a few of the many great summer meal programs taking place around South Central NY!

In Chemung County, the Child Hunger Task Force has seen great work by churches and organizations that have "adopted" meal sites in parks. At the sites visited once a week by the Food Bank of the Southern Tier's Kid's Farmers Market, market days have brought an increase in participation. Chemung County is also running a pilot to determine cost and benefit of offering meals to adults that attend programs with children, and are currently surveying the adults at meal sites.

Mandeville Farm, Spencer NY, has been donating excess produce (mostly squash so far) to the Spencer Van Etten Community food Cupboard, reports Kerm Boussard. This fresh produce has been distributed at the Spencer Van Etten Farmers Market along with non-perishable food in "backpacks" to children that receive backpacks during the school year. The backpack program is not funded during the summer so this food pantry stepped up to help fill the gap left when school is not in session and kids lose access to nutritious free meals.

Any leftover produce is distributed to kids at a free summer meal site at the Spencer Fire Department. The kids and their families look forward to fresh produce on Monday! Families have difficulty stretching the food dollar, especially in the summer. Many forgo fresh produce as they feel it is not affordable.

Meal sites in Broome County have been in full swing since the end of June and beginning of July. FaHN AmeriCorps member Victoria Delaney notes "when first meeting the site managers I noticed how much they enjoyed talking about what they do and how much they wanted to share in the experience. I have started working on developing a mentor program for the new site managers." Thanks to a partnership with BC Transit, information on where to find free summer meals is now available on every bus. As some sites begin to close in early August, efforts are also underway to redirect children to other sites with the added assistance of bus passes. In addition to summer meal sites, the CHOWbus, supported by the Community Foundation for SCNY, has already distributed 2,500 lunches this summer in rural and urban communities. These lunches are funded through the Southern Tier Credit Union Alliance and other community support. The Broome County Child Hunger Task Force will continue to focus on summer meals throughout the year. 

Whole Kids Foundation
2016 School Garden Grants
Application open September 1 - October 31, 2015
Lean more here.

Community Foundation of SCNY 
Community Fund, due September 8, 2015
Small Grants, due September 15 and November 15
Learn more here.

Local Foods, Local Places Grants

Due September 15, 2015

Learn more here.

CHS/National Agriculture in the Classroom 
CHS Classroom Grants
Due September 15, 2015
Learn more here.

Northesast SARE
Partnership Grants, due October 6, 2015
Farmers Grants, due November 12, 2015
Learn more here.

Community Foundation of Tompkins County

2015 Fall 2 Year Grant Cycle Collective Impact: Building Relationships, Building Our Future
Due September 30, 2015. Learn more here.


There is still time to take advantage of a special 2015 sponsorship challenge for farm and food businesses! When you contribute $25 as a FaHN Sponsor, an additional $75 will be matched by an anonymous donor to reach the Seedling sponsor level.

Sponsor benefits:
  • Promote your Farm or Food Business through a Sponsor listing in FaHN publications and media (FaHN Membership Directory, website, e-newsletter, blog and Food System Assessment).  
  • Invitation to annual recognition event featuring local food. 
  • Framed Certificate of Appreciation
  • Speakers & technical assistance available for your food and health related events.
  • Opportunity to network, collaborate, and request support for local food and health related initiatives.
You can learn more by visiting our website here, or viewing the sponsor form here. We are also inviting new individual and organizational members. 

For more informati
on on how to take advantage of this opportunity contact:
Erin Summerlee, FaHN Coordinator
607-692-7669 or fahncoordinator

Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming
Applications due September 1, 2015.
Learn more here.

AmeriCorps Positions promoting Food Access & Health!
Fall positions available with a range of organizations.
View positions and apply: Rural Health Service Corps website.

Organizational Members

Broome-Tioga BOCES Food Service
Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) 
Chenango County Health Department
Cornell Cooperative Extension Broome County
Cornell Cooperative Extension Tioga County
Delaware Opportunities Inc.
Family Enrichment Network
Food Bank of the Southern Tier
Hatherleigh Foundation
Healthy Lifestyles Coalition (United Way)
Rural Health Network of South Central New York
Seven Valleys Health Coalition
Tioga County Hunger Coalition 
Tioga Opportunities
Tompkins County Food Distribution Network
VINES: Volunteers Improving Neighborhood Environments
Individual Members

Susan Adair
Diane Albrecht
Richard Andrus
Donna Bates
Mark Bordeau
Christina Boyd
Ray Denniston
Nancy Eckstrom
Matthew Griffin
Kathleen Horner
Sonia Janiszewski
Kevin Millar
Ann Moring
Peaceful By Nature Farm
Jeffrey Piestrak
Tony Preus
Amy Shapiro
Rose Zonetti

Diane Albrecht
Greg Albrecht & Victoria Zeppelin
Connie Barnes
Susan Beaudoin
Elizabeth Bossong
Closer to the Heart Farms 
Diane Crews
Ray Denniston
Nancy Eckstrom
Engelbert Farms, LLC
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

Fidelis Care New York 
Old Barn Hollow Farm Market
Jeffrey Piestrak
Charles and Mary Place
John and Linda Roush
Jack Salo
Linda Seeger
Doris Summerlee
Lauren Tonti
United HealthCare
United Health Services (UHS)
Shawn Yetter
Food & Health Network Facebook Page
Food & Health Network Facebook Page
Food & Health Network Website
Food & Health Network Website