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Food & Health Network is a program of Rural Health Network of South Central NY
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In this Issue

As we head into 2021, we'd like to reflect on a 2020 that brought unprecedented challenges and hardship, but also new partnerships, opportunities, and innovative responses to meet the needs. COVID-19 altered many of our operations but also allowed us to pivot programs, deepen regional impact, and collaborate more effectively across programs at Rural Health Network and with emergency food system providers. We are proud of the progress we made to form new collaborations with organizations, schools, farms, healthcare providers, and individuals even during the pandemic. 

Learn more about the work done this year by visiting our website, and please consider making a donation to expand the impact of programs like Farm to School & NY Thursdaysthe Fruit & Vegetable Prescription ProgramFood and Health Volunteer Corps, and much more!
New Partnerships
In 2020, we established a new Rural Food Retail Initiative involving partners in six counties. We will host an educational webinar series exploring opportunities for rural food retail in 2021. 

We continued to work towards advancing Food is Medicine by coordinating a Food is Medicine Affinity Group and providing regional technical assistance for FVRx programs. We also are helping to develop the Broome County Food Council. 
Enhanced Collaborations
Staff and AmeriCorps members from several Rural Health Network programs worked with community partners to develop a guide for COVID-19 Food Resources and helped establish a regional food business directory. FaHN staff also worked with their colleagues in the Getthere program at Rural Health Network to bridge new partnerships for transportation to food and emergency food deliveries. 

With the support and participation of staff and AmeriCorps members across Rural Health Network programs, our community food systems program provided volunteer recruitment and support, facilitated direct food delivery for community members, and delivered over 15,000 masks to community organizations. 
Program Innovation
The Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) underwent a major program expansion, working with more healthcare providers, food retailers, and participants. We integrated more opportunities for participant engagement,  communication, and education.

The Farm to School program helped 15 schools meet the NYS 30% local purchasing threshold. We created gardening and cooking videos for remote learning, and delivered grow kits to over 1,000 students. 
 
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News from Our Team

We are saying goodbye to two of our team members this month! Jessica Barbini worked with us over the past 2 years as our Farm to School Coordinator and Allison Chang was a dietetics intern with us this semester from Cornell University. We wish Jess and Allison the best with their next endeavors and thank them for their service! Below you can find their goodbye letters: 

Jess: Thank you for the opportunity to work as your Farm to School Coordinator! Binghamton and the Southern Tier hold special space in my heart. As I continue working to build a more sustainable and equitable food system wherever I find myself, my experiences with farm to school and all the wonderful people involved inspire and motivate me! I am honored to have worked with all of you. Read the rest of Jess's post at our Food for Thought Blog! 

Allison: My past 3 months as a Rural Health Network intern have been extremely enjoyable and enlightening. Despite the challenges of working remotely, I have still been able to learn and gain so much perspective on rural culture, as well as create some pretty unforgettable experiences. Learning about various Rural Health Network programs like the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx), the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), and the Rural Cultural Competence training really opened my eyes to the gaps and needs of these rural community members. At the same time, as I observed and became more familiar with the Rural Health Network and its mission, I became impressed with the amount of programs and initiatives the Rural Health Network offers to meet the needs of rural people and communities.
Read the rest of Allison's post at our Food for Thought Blog!

We are recruiting for a Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) AmeriCorps VISTA member to provide support for the implementation, evaluation, and expansion of a growing regional produce prescription program and other Food is Medicine initiatives. The FVRx VISTA will expand the capacity and impact of the program through coordination, communication, access to resources, and resource development. The VISTA will work closely with the FaHN Director, health care providers, local food retailers, and program participants. Learn more and apply here.

Featured RHN Programs






Here are just a few highlights of available programs and resources from the Rural Health Network. Please feel free to share this with co-workers, friends, family, or clients who may be interested. 
 

News from Our Network

The Food Bank of the Southern Tier is hiring for a Client Registration Specialist and a Health and Nutrition Programs Manager. The Client Registration Specialist is responsible for administering the Food Bank of the Southern Tier’s Mobile Food Pantry (MFP) registration process. The Health & Nutrition Programs Manager applies a public health lens to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier’s efforts to alleviate food insecurity, helping position the Food Bank as a leader in promoting health among vulnerable populations. Learn more and apply here.

We'd like to congratulate Broome-Tioga BOCES on being awarded a grant from No Kid Hungry. The grant will be used for purchasing a refrigerated truck. The new truck will help: 1) Strengthen breakfast in classroom initiatives. 2) Assist in efforts to make schools community food hubs. 3) Dramatically help to achieve a goal of 40% of the foods served to students in BT-BOCES districts being grown and raised in New York State. 

American Farmland Trust released a new report titled Growing Resilience: Unlocking the Potential of Farm to School to Strengthen the Economy, Support New York Farms, and Improve Student Health in the Face of New Challenges. The report is a followup to their spring 2020 report Growing Opportunity for Farm to School in New York with research conducted by AFT during the summer of 2020, which sought to collect new information from schools after year two of the incentive program, including clarifying remaining barriers schools face in purchasing New York food products and reaching 30%, as well as the impact COVID-19 may have on farm to school in New York. 

Open Grant Opportunities

National Young Farmers Coalition: Young Farmer Grant Program
Applications close on January 15, 2021.
Learn more here.

USDA Farm to School
Applications close on January 8, 2021.
Learn more here.

USDA Community Food Projects 
Applications close on May 4, 2021.
Learn more here.

USDA Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program
Applications close on March 16, 2021.
Learn more here.

John May Farm Safety Fund
Application deadline: applications selected on an ongoing basis. 
Learn more here.
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