Heres the Scoop: Updates on Summer Activities from The Network

Here’s the scoop:

Local Production:  Adam and Matt are making progress on the local “buying guide” that connects producers with area restaurants and markets.  Matt is recruiting local restaurants and markets, and Adam is creating promotional materials for farmers, that they can use for their own marketing, and that restaurants or markets can display when their products are being featured.

Growing Spaces:  the town of Windham has started prepping our new growing space – they’ve leveled the field, taken down the trees, and the water is scheduled to go in in the next few weeks!  Malakai wrote a great article in the previous issue of Neighbors, and Sally and Malakai went on the radio with John a few weeks ago to talk about the project.

Access:  Sarah and the Coop have taken on promotion of the Double SNAP incentives at the Farmers’ Market.  She passed out and put up approximately 15 posters both in English and Spanish around town, at agencies, QVCC, the Library, laundromat, and will continue to hang more posters at other social service agencies, pharmacies, daycare centers and the senior center, etc..  If you’re interested in helping out, please reach out to her:  alliswell13@sbcglobal.net:

Education:  Hannah, our amazing intern from UConn, has this to report:

We collaborated with Julie Peterson, a dietitian at Mansfield Pediatrics, to create a folder for patients that qualified as food insecure. These folders contain a $10 farmers’ market voucher that would be redeemable at the Willimantic Farmers’ Market. Additionally, the folders would include a notice explaining the double your SNAP option available at the farmers’ market, information about the location/hours of the farmers’ market, nutrition information about the available produce, and a packet of recipes. All of the information included was in both Spanish and English to accommodate the diverse community of Willimantic.   A second project we are currently working on is developing a Nutrition Education program to be offered in collaboration with the Village Heights and ECSU community gardens. The goal is to create a garden manual, to be accessible both online and in a binder at the gardens. This manual would contain growing information for all the current produce in the garden and it would allow the garden staff to understand more thoroughly the planting processes and pass this onto the children. Additionally, we have compiled nutrition research for the most common produce available at the gardens. We then used this information to assign sensible superpowers to each fruit/vegetable. For example, the superpower for carrots, because of their high vitamin A content, would be night vision. We plan to create posters for each superpower and place them throughout the gardens as a way for children to visualize and better comprehend the benefits and nutritional information of the available produce.

Outreach:  Will wrote up this update a few weeks ago about the work he and Meckla are did to promote Summer Meals and engage the community:

Last summer the summer meals program in Willimantic, CT alone managed to serve 23,000 meals to hungry children.  Through the collaborated efforts of GROW Windham and the CT Food Justice VISTA Project we hope to further increase these numbers in 2016.  Plans for the summer include concentrated outreach in five specific meal site locations (Village Heights, Windham Heights, Ivy Gardens, West Avenue along with its surrounding neighborhoods and Memorial Park).  These areas were chosen due to their high meal count potential deduced through census data collected by the Board of Education.  To help spread the word about the meals we have been conducting outreach at WIC and WAIM as well as the Willimantic Farmer’s Market.  GROW Windham is also launching a “Farm to Summer” fresh food outreach where we will try and educate children and their families on the benefits of eating/purchasing locally sourced produce through tastings at summer meal sites and other community events throughout Willimantic.  Such events include Third Thursday and other Parks and Recreation evening activities at Lauter/Memorial park.  Incorporating the Windham Youth Core we hope to further increase the capacity of our outreach and collection of data for future events.  In conclusion we want families to know that these meals are truly free and non-binding.  You can come on a day to day basis and get a fresh breakfast or lunch for your child without having to show any type of identification or sign any paperwork.  With food as a medium we are trying to grow both community and self-sufficiency.