Fresh from the Field, Sep. 6, 2018

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Fresh from the Field is a weekly album showcasing transformative impacts made by partners supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Editor: Falita Liles                                                                                                    Sep.6, 2018

Success Stories 

According to the USDA, about 12 percent of Americans face hunger, with 5 percent, or 6.1 million, experiencing very low food security. Children are among the hungry with 703,000 ranked in the very low food security category. Food insecurity can increase the risk of obesity, illness, and other maladies. Land-grant universities are stepping in with projects designed to link people with nutritious and affordable food. The Impacts and Success Stories in this special issue of Fresh From the Field were prepared by the National Impacts Database Communications Subcommittee. For additional information regarding these success stories, as well as many more impacts, visit the Land-Grants Impacts Database.

Fresh from the Field NIFA Impacts VA USDA photo by Lance Cheung

Virginia Extension Aids Food Deserts

Food deserts are often located in low-income areas where there are no grocery stores, farmers markets, or other healthy food retailers. In Virginia, nearly 18 percent of the population lives in a food desert. To help address the issue, Extension educators trained residents—through workshops and field days—how to grow, prepare, and market fresh produce by establishing community gardens. They also worked with schools and churches to establish community gardens. Educators anticipate a minimum 25 percent increase in fruit and vegetable production and a 20 percent reduction in food costs. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Fresh From the Field NIFA Impacts Gleaning CA Extension USDA photo by Preston Keres

Food Security in California

California’s Yolo County grows a wide and abundant variety of crops, but 16 percent of adults and 23 percent of children struggle with food security. California looked to the fields to solve the problem: produce left behind due to overproduction or inconsistencies in size, shape, or color that kept produce out of the marketplace. University of California, Davis spearheaded a collaborative effort to test the process of gleaning crop waste, preserving it, and then distributing it through local food banks in consumer-friendly packaging. They tested the preserved produce with food bank recipients who participated in a cooking contest. By creating recipes using the preserved foods, the local, primarily Latina, women helped increase the acceptability of shelf-stable foods during months when fresh produce is scarce. USDA photo.

News Coverage

Fresh From the Field NIFA Impacts Community garden school  USDA photo

South Dakota Native American Children, Extension, and Master Gardeners Garden Together

About 40 percent of South Dakotans eat fruit less than once a day, and 26 percent eat vegetables less than once each day. Rural residents have limited access to fresh produce, and South Dakota Native American children have a higher than average risk for obesity and diabetes. To address the issue, South Dakota Extension educators worked with master gardeners, AmeriCorps members, and others to establish community gardens and teach gardening classes. The gardens, seven of which were in Native American communities, served as classrooms for nutrition and production practices. They not only produced fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables, but also provided physical activity, a step toward reducing obesity and diabetes. USDA photo.


Fresh From the FIeld NIFA Impacts Maine Extension USDA photo

Maine Hunger Dialogues

In Maine, Extension helped to establish the Maine Hunger Dialogues so students and others could learn about hunger on local, national, and global levels and take action. Grants supported 11 teams that developed food recovery networks, initiated food pantries and resource hubs, donated fresh produce to food insecure students, and conducted food drives and hunger awareness initiatives. The teams also produced 107,562 healthy, nonperishable meals that were distributed to food-insecure students and community members. USDA photo.

Healthy School Farmers Market

Educators in Tulare County, California, where about 29 percent of children live in food-insecure households, established the Healthy School Farmers Market in two schools where a high percentage of students participate in free or reduced price meal programs. They, in collaboration with a local food bank, school districts, and an after-school program, are providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, promoting physical activity, and delivering key nutrition messages. Nearly 500 students and community residents have participated and created local market opportunities for farmers. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.

Fresh From the Field NIFA Impacts CA USDA photo by Lance Cheung

Fresh From the Field NIFA Impacts California Extension USDA photo by Richard Brassfield

4-H'ers Help Those in Need

In San Benito County, California, 4-H members coordinated an effort to glean unpicked citrus fruit from local homes throughout the city of Hollister and donate the harvested fruit to the local food pantry. The program included an environmental scan of the community and training of 4-H members and parents on how to properly use tools to safely conduct the harvest. The effort provided 2,000 pounds of citrus to the pantry for distribution to 9,000 customers. USDA photo by Richard Brassfield.

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