ANCA awards mini grants to local food projects

Cooking classes and other local food outreach activities by Healthy Families Jefferson County are among the beneficiaries of mini grants from the Adirondack North Country Association’s FarmShare Fund. (Photo provided by Healthy Families Jefferson County)

SARANAC LAKE — In an effort to address food insecurity in the North Country region, the Adirondack North Country Association is awarding five grants as part of its 2019 FarmShare Fund Mini Grant Program.

Grant awards ranging from $675 to $1,500 will fund local food access projects led by the following organizations: Cornell Cooperative Extension of Hamilton County, CCE of Oneida County, the Essex County Public Health Department, GardenShare and the North Country Prenatal/Perinatal Council.

“Our goal for the FarmShare Fund is to encourage initiatives that directly benefit low-income families while introducing convenient and cost-effective options for accessing healthy local food,” Josh Bakelaar, ANCA local economies and agriculture director, said in a press release. “These projects often work in parallel with supplemental nutrition and education programs that combat hunger as well as public health challenges like obesity, diabetes and chronic heart disease.”

CCE of Hamilton County will use its mini grant to develop a teaching garden at a local school and to create a mobile market for distributing fresh produce locally.

CCE Oneida County’s project, coordinated through the Eat Well Play Hard in Child Care Centers program, will develop a local food access plan for a local child care center, implement classroom lessons and manage a “Power of Produce Club” token program, where children receive $2 tokens to spend at area farmers markets.

CSA produce and other local food outreach activities by Healthy Families Jefferson County are among the beneficiaries of mini grants from the Adirondack North Country Association’s FarmShare Fund. (Photo provided by Healthy Families Jefferson County)

The Essex County Public Health Department will use grant funds to support programs for families including a new Women, Infants and Children activity called WIC Fun and Food Fridays. These events will offer local food cooking demonstrations for parents while their children play. The project will also provide basic kitchen tools and meal kits to encourage the preparation of fresh foods at home.

GardenShare, a Canton-based nonprofit group that works to strengthen food security in northern New York, will provide a community-supported agriculture (CSA) cost-sharing program for eligible families through its Bonus Bucks Program. This lets recipients stretch their food dollars, support local farmers and enjoy nutritious food from the St. Lawrence Valley.

Healthy Families Jefferson County, a program of the North Country Prenatal/Perinatal Council, will use its grant to support local food outreach activities for families, including participation in a local CSA share, educational books, cookbooks, nutritional materials and cooking classes.

“We believe these projects will empower and inspire people, especially kids, to develop healthy eating habits, support local farm and food businesses and even create their own business someday,” said Bakelaar. “These small grants are helping to address a number of economic and social issues and guide our communities toward greater self-reliance.”

ANCA’s annual Bike the Barns farm-by-bike event is the main source of funding for the FarmShare Fund and mini grant program. This year’s Bike the Barns will take place on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Tucker Farms in Gabriels, and will highlight small farms and local food businesses in the Saranac Lake and Vermontville areas. All proceeds from the event go to the FarmShare Fund.

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