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Hello! We are happy to introduce you to Olivia Consol, who served as an AmeriCorps member at the Rural Health Network over the past year and will now be working with the Food & Health Network. We are excited to have her for the next year as our AmeriCorps Education and Outreach Coordinator!

With summer coming to an end and students heading back to school this week, we are very excited to share that FaHN will be taking lessons learned from the summer meals pilot project in Broome County and expanding the assessment to the entire eight-county region. The expanded assessment is supported by a grant from the Taren Family Fund and the Dick and Marion Meltzer Fund of the Community Foundation for South Central New York. The project will establish the number, location and capacity of all summer meal sites in the region, identify the unique characteristics and needs of the communities and sites, and determine the current and potential ability to serve additional children.

VISTA member Maggie Reeger is leading this assessment, in partnership with the organizations and coalitions working directly in each county. We are very grateful for the Community Foundation for South Central NY’s support of this initiative to increase the number of children with access to healthy food in the summer. 

Hi everyone! My name is Olivia Consol and I’m the new full-time AmeriCorps member with the Food and Health Network. As the Education and Outreach Coordinator, my responsibilities include educating stakeholders through presentations and events, conducting farm to school education with children in preschool and K-12, coordinating our new Growing Health educational forums and managing FaHN’s communications efforts. Last year I served as an AmeriCorps member with the Rural Health Network, mainly doing nutrition education with children at the Whitney Point Preschool & Daycare and Whitney Point Promise Zone, and I’m very excited to expand upon what I was doing last year through my new role with FaHN.

I’m from Endicott, NY and I graduated from Ithaca College in May 2014 with a degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. Before joining AmeriCorps I was working in public relations, so I’m looking forward to using my communications background again. After my service with FaHN, I hope to work in nonprofit communications and marketing and potentially get my M.P.A.

I love upstate New York and I’m so glad my AmeriCorps service has brought me back here. There are so many wonderful things going on in this area that I’m excited to learn about and share with you. FaHN and all of its partners do amazing work, and I can’t wait to dive in!

Contact Olivia at or 607-692-7669.
September is Hunger Action Month! Orange is the color of hunger awareness and relief. Go orange all month long and show your support:
  • Wear orange and post a picture for #HungerActionMonth
  • Join some of our Rural Health Network staff by participating in #Spoontember and post a selfie with a spoon on your nose
  • Volunteer with your local food pantry or regional food bank 
Local Farm Spotlight: Engelbert Farms
Engelbert Farms, run by Kevin and Lisa Engelbert and their three sons, is a farm sponsor of the Food & Health Network.

Maggie Reeger, FaHN VISTA, interviewed Lisa to learn more about their farm and its contributions to the local food system. You can learn more on their website and follow them on facebook.

You became organic certified with NOFA-NY in 1984-85, making your farm the first organic dairy in the United States. What challenges did you face at the time, given that you were the only organic dairy farm NOFA-NY had yet seen?
The biggest challenge was having no market for our organic milk. We contacted several milk companies to see if they would be interested in starting an organic milk line, or even to process for us so we could start our own brand, but they all thought organic was a fad. We shipped organic milk into the conventional market for almost 20 years without a stable market for all of our milk.
Can you describe what it was like to transition from conventional to organic and sustainable practices? Challenges, successes, etc?
We were very concerned about what might happen with bugs, weeds, etc. As our soil continued to heal from extensive chemical use, we saw less of an issue with bugs. Bugs generally seem to attack weak plants, but leave healthy plants alone. It took 7 years before Kevin was confident enough to sell the sprayer. Weeds can be a challenge, because you must cultivate at just the right time to achieve good weed control. If you are delayed by weather, i.e., too much rain at the wrong time, weeds can get ahead of you. 
Once we stopped feeding medicated milk replacer to our calves, and started feeding whole milk, our calf mortality dropped significantly. Medicated milk replacer contains antibiotics, and once you stopped feeding it, calves seemed to get sick. Once we started raising calves on whole milk like nature intended, we found that our calves were much healthier.
After we stopped using chemicals on our land, we saw a dramatic increase in the health of our cows, too. Before we started farming organically, our cows were constantly sick with mastitis, milk fever, breeding problems, foot and leg problems. Over the first few years of farming organically, the health of our cows started to improve as our soil became healthier.
How has your farm diversified and grown over the years?
Our three sons all came back to the farm after graduating from college. When our first son came back, we knew we would need to diversify to be able to support more families. He has since taken a job off the farm, but is still around helping out when he can. Then when our second and third sons decided to come back, we added additional value-added products.
Up until 2004 we were just an organic dairy farm. In 2004 we became certified for organic beef, pork and veal, and started our own organic meat business. We sold at farmers' markets, from the farm and to a few stores and restaurants. In 2008, we became certified to grind and mix organic feed for other farmers. In 2009 we opened our farm store and started having small amounts of our milk made into organic cheese, which we sold under our own label. In the years since, we’ve expanded our offerings at our farm store to include organic vegetables, and products from other local farms. 
Our farm is currently supporting four Engelbert families, plus three full-time employees and several part-time employees.
What do you think is needed to support the local food community?
Less regulation is the first thing that comes to mind. For example, people should be able to choose what to put in their bodies. Unless you have a raw milk license, you can’t sell raw milk in New York. A raw milk license only allows you to sell from the farm. You cannot transport raw milk and deliver it to customers, and you can’t sell it at a farmer’s market or in stores. Testing is done, but the farmer has no control over the testing. If even one test comes back above one of the state’s thresholds, they don’t give you an opportunity to investigate whether it was a sampling error, or to determine if there really is a problem. They simply put out a press release to all local media outlets. We’re not willing to take a chance of getting shut down for something that might not be our fault. It is unfortunate, but we turn people seeking raw milk away every week. The new food ‘safety’ regulations that are coming, will possibly make us reconsider whether we want to grow vegetables to sell. We have complete traceability with our products. Some of the proposed new regulations make no sense for an organic farmer who is already documenting everything they do.
To have a successful local food community, there must be places to process your products. There is a severe shortage of slaughterhouses, especially USDA-inspected and certified organic slaughterhouses, which are necessary to be able to label meat as organic and sell to the public or stores. 
We get asked for organic chicken all the time. There are no local USDA or state inspected slaughterhouses to process chickens. To be able to sell chicken in our farm store, it would have to be raised and processed on the farm. Even if we did process them on the farm, we could not sell them to stores or restaurants – we could only sell them to the end user from our farm store or at a farmers market. We don’t raise chickens for meat because we don’t have the facilities or the time to process them. We’d love to be able to purchase chicken from any of the farms who purchase feed from us to sell in our store, but unfortunately it would be illegal to do so.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to new/beginning farmers?
Do your research and pencil out the numbers for what you want to do. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other farmers and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to try new things – they may not all work out, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know. Sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised. Make sure you know how you will market your products. 
Why did you get involved with the Food and Health Network? 
I’m very interested in building a local/regional food network. I believe it is the only way to have true food security. 
Where can we find your farm products?
Our products are available at our farm store, which is open Friday and Saturday from 10 to 3 all year.  The only time it isn’t open on one of those days is if it is a federal holiday. Our products are also available at the following venues: 911 Earth, Athens, PA; Bakery Café, Too, Sayre, PA; Down to Earth Whole Foods, Endicott, NY; GreenStar Cooperative Market and GreenStar Dewitt, Ithaca, NY; Ithaca Beer Company, Ithaca, NY; Finger Lakes Cider House, Interlaken, NY; Lucas Vineyards, Interlaken, NY; Good to Go, Trumansburg, NY; Harbor Hotel, Watkins Glen, NY, and several CSAs offer our products to their members – West Haven Farm, Ithaca, NY; Good Life Farm, Interlaken, NY; and Good Food Collective in Rochester, NY. We hope to start shipping organic cheese from our website this fall. 

Escape the High Cost of Illness with Healthy Choices

The healthcare community has an important role to play in  bridging the connection between food and health. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an organizational sponsor of the Food and Health Network, is working to invest in wellness to prevent the high costs of diet-related chronic diseases. Learn more about their efforts below!

It has been said that people neglect their health while trying to achieve wealth, but in the end must spend their wealth to regain their health. Keeping the cost of health care affordable is an issue that affects us all.

While nothing is more valuable than the gift of good health, reclaiming it once lost can indeed be expensive. Excellus BCBS believes that shifting the focus to prevention whenever possible can yield tremendous benefits in both quality of life and financial savings. Often, simple lifestyle adjustments are all that may be necessary to improve health and prevent chronic illness.

We believe all Americans should be encouraged to embrace prevention as the best medicine. To help our members we partnered with various not-for-profit agencies in the area to help provide prevention resources to the community.  For several years we have helped fund the Rural Health Network of SCNY’s Renew Health Program that provides chronic disease management classes and services to rural adults. This year,  Excellus BCBS is helping to sponsor the Family Enrichment Network’s “Eat, Play, Grow” program that focuses on healthy lifestyles for children and their families.

To read the full article, click here.
All month long!
Locavore Challenge


Click here for more information.
September 20, 2015
Sunday, 2pm
CHOW Hunger Walk 2015
Broome County Council of Churches
Binghamton University, Behind the East Gym
Learn more here.
September 20, 2015
2015 Annual Food Justice Fair
GreenStar Community Projects
Corner of Cleveland Ave and Plain Street
Ithaca, NY

Visit the Facebook page for more information.
September 24, 2015
Thursday, 3:30pm-4:45pm
Leveraging Healthcare Funding to Build Healthier Communities
National Good Food Network Webinar
Learn more and pre-register here.
September 28, 2015
Monday, 10am-12pm
Producing for the Hub Workshop
Lucky Dog Local Food Hub

Lucky Dog Farm Store & Cafe
Main Street, Hamden NY

Email to RSVP
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: USDA Funding & CNR 2015

CNR Reauthorization: On September 1st, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack gave keynote remarks at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. The Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) is the most important piece of legislation regarding child nutrition and includes important bills, such as the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act of 2015.

As Congress returns from its August recess, the Senate and House of Representatives will debate the reauthorization of programs that provide meals and nutritional support to children. This includes school breakfasts, lunches, the Summer Food Service Program, Farm-to-School programs, and WIC benefits. 

The current CNR is set to expire on September 30th. A continuation of existing programs--and increased funding and resources for growth--are necessary to continue critical childhood nutrition programs. Watch Secretary Vilsack's keynote address here and s
ign on to the letter in support of the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act (S. 1966).

Summer Meals End for the Season

With the end of summer here and school starting, summer meal sites have finished for the season. Many sites saw an increase in the number of children receiving lunches and are already working to expand next year. In Broome County, FaHN AmeriCorps member Victoria Delaney has worked closely with two such sites that expanded their programs to reach more children. Centenary-Chenango Street United Methodist Church expanded the number of days they were open for meals from two to five days per week and saw an increase in participation. In their second year as a summer meal site, High Street United Methodist Church saw more children participating as they increased activities like games and prizes.

As the summer was ending, Victoria visited closing sites in order to redirect children and families to sites open longer and provided bus passes and referrals to Mobility Management of South Central NY. With the help of many partners, including the Child Hunger Task Force, much has been learned this year about how to assist children, families, site managers, and sponsors of the Broome County Summer Food Service Program.

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

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
Care Manage for All, LLC
Closer to the Heart Farms 
Diane Crews
Ray Denniston
Nancy Eckstrom
Engelbert Farms, LLC
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

Fidelis Care New York

Johan Jelsma
Old Barn Hollow Farm Market
Jeffrey Piestrak
Charles and Mary Place
John and Linda Roush
Jack Salo
Linda Seeger
Slope Farms, LLC.
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