Tag Archives: childhood hunger

Great learning opportunities! From Mass Farm to School Project

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From Mass Farm to School:

Greenfield Community College Offers Summer Courses in Sustainable Agriculture for Students and Teachers 

Greenfield Community College is offering summer courses for high school students and teachers in Organic Gardening, Intro. to Sustainable Farming Skills, and Developing Curriculum in Sustainable Food Production.

To learn more about the program for teachers, CLICK HERE! 

Raised Bed Workshop at Gore Place

May 21

In this workshop, long-time farmer Scott Clarke will demonstrate techniques for planting flowers and vegetables in a raised bed.

Learn how to lay out a square-foot garden, choose plants that are good companions, make use of vertical space, and plant directly into a bale of hay.

farmer-1

Explore ways to develop the soil without the use of synthetic fertilizers so that your soil can feed the plants and vice versa.

Attendees will receive a coupon for the annual Spring Plant Sale on May 27-29.  $25 per person, $20 for Members.

CLICK HERE to buy tickets!

volunteers

Healthy Food Fuels Hungry Minds: A Stakeholder’s Conference for School Food

June 1

Harvard University, Cambridge

In this second stakeholders annual conference, join parents, providers, policy makers and advocates as we work together to understand the current climate of school food and develop collaborative ways to to champion and support change.

CLICK HERE for registration & Full Conference Agenda.

Today at 1:30 p.m. and … Helping the less fortunate – From Jim: Here’s Why I Stayed at a Homeless Shelter

Before we get to Jim’s speech, THIS JUST IN!

TODAY!

Congressman Jim McGovern, Mass. School Leaders, New England Patriots Call to Strengthen Student Access to School Meals

FOXBOROUGH – Today at 1:30PM, Congressman Jim McGovern, the New England Dairy & Food Council and the Massachusetts Association of School Committees are hosting a convening at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, titled Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: One Meal at a Time, in celebration of National School Breakfast Week to discuss actionable steps to help increase student access to school meals.

Congressman McGovern is a champion of childhood hunger issues and will highlight how the School Breakfast Program presents a huge opportunity to ensure that Massachusetts students, especially those who live with food insecurity, can get the nutrition they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Joining Congressman McGovern will be key leaders from school districts across the state to issue a powerful call-to-action to the audience.

This event, will be held at Gillette Stadium today at 1:30 PM.

The goal of the event is for school committee members, superintendents and other key administrators to return to their communities and start a conversation with school nutrition professionals to actively support breakfast efforts.

WHO:
· Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02)
·
New England Dairy & Food Council
·
Massachusetts Association of School Committees
·
New England Patriots Players
· Massachusetts School Leaders

WHAT: National School Breakfast Week: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: One meal at a Time

WHERE: Gillette Stadium, 1 Patriot Place, Foxborough (Northeast Putnam Club Lounge at E1 entrance)

WHEN: Today, March 8 at 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

**********

By Congressman Jim McGovern

Last week during our district work period, I spent the night at the Interfaith Hospitality Network, a family homeless shelter in Worcester. This was my second time spending a night there in recent years. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear firsthand the stories of families who are facing tough times and to see the incredible support provided by groups like IHN.

In today’s media environment where every development in the presidential campaign gets a breaking news banner, it’s easy to lose sight of the real issues impacting real families and homelessness is one of them.

In 2015, more than 500,000 Americans were homeless on any given night. Of that number, more than 200,000 were people in families and nearly 50,000 were veterans.

Even in Massachusetts, one of the richest states in the nation, homelessness continues to be a challenge in many of our communities. In recent years, state budget cuts have led to a record number of homeless children in Massachusetts and the overall uptick in homelessness has led to overcrowding in shelters with thousands of families being turned away.

In the richest country on the planet, it is simply astonishing that anyone is homeless, but the fact is this continues to be a persistent problem. Fortunately, there are amazing organizations like the Interfaith Hospitality Network that are making a difference.

IHN works in partnership with the faith community to provide shelter and assistance to families with children who are homeless. Their primary goals are to assist families in increasing their income and to help them secure permanent housing, while providing the critical support services necessary for them to succeed.

It’s a ‘community bed shelter’ that provides private bedrooms and shared living areas for six families at a time who are homeless but don’t qualify for state-funded shelters.

One of the points that the people I met made very eloquently was that sometimes life is very complicated and sometimes things don’t work out as you expect them to.

Many of the families that I met during my stay included at least one working parent. But they had fallen into the gap where they earned too little to make ends meet but too much to qualify for other housing assistance programs.

Some of the residents included college-educated parents with families that fell on hard times – maybe a parent is sick or a child’s sick, or a parent got laid off from a job. Those families are not there because they made poor choices; there were a series of events that led to this. One thing parents at the shelter have in common is that they love their kids more than anything and are working tirelessly to get back on their feet.

The families at IHN are not charged rent and work with a caseworker to budget and save money for their own apartments. The caseworker also helps families access necessary health care or counseling, learn job skills, enroll in job training or educational classes, and assists them with other life issues.

IHN is a very special place. It’s a home. It’s comfortable. It’s safe. Families prepare and eat dinner together. Children do their homework together, color in coloring books, and play games. IHN provides a sense of normalcy during times of turmoil and uncertainty for families.

With each visit to the IHN shelter, I am inspired to see that within our community, there are so many wonderful people who care about their neighbors who are going through difficult times and who want to get back on their feet. The volunteers and staff are incredible people. Places like IHN represent the best of our community and there is a real need for places like this.

Too often in this chamber, I have heard colleagues demonize and disparage America’s poorest families. But those who are homeless don’t fit into a stereotype. Every family faces different challenges. It’s hard work to be poor in America and the families I met are working hard for a better life for their kids. We should be helping them get back on their feet, not kicking them while they’re down, and certainly, we should not be indifferent to their struggles.

To help more of these families get ahead, we must do more at the national level to strengthen the social safety net to better address homelessness, food insecurity, and poverty and many other issues which deserve to be front and center.

Looking at the big picture, we need to be talking about how we can make sure that work pays enough so that all working families can afford rent and place to live, and be able to put food on the table for their kids. We might start by increasing, at long last, the federal minimum wage so that it’s a livable wage. If you work in this country, you ought not to be poor and you ought certainly not to be homeless.

In the richest country on the planet, I know we can solve homelessness. Spending a night at a homeless shelter is an incredible experience and I encourage more of my colleagues to do the same in their districts.

Those of us who serve in Congress are blessed that we don’t have to worry if we’ll have a roof over our heads on any given night. But there are many families, too many families, in this country who do. We need to do a better job of listening to their stories and lending a helping hand so they can get out of their difficult situations and move on to a better life.

I urge my colleagues to listen what I said today and do what I did and spend a night at a homeless shelter in their district.

Hooray!!! Kudos to all involved!!!! … Supporting local farmers! Supporting the working class and poor! FRESH PRODUCE AND MORE VIA WORCESTER’S NEW FOOD HUB!!!

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) and the Regional Environmental Council of Central MA (REC) are pleased to announce continued funding for their food hub partnership.
 
In 2015, the Chamber and the REC embarked on a yearlong assessment to determine the feasibility of establishing a food hub in the Worcester region.

Food hubs are broadly defined as facilities that manage the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, or marketing of locally and regionally produced food. A food hub provides better consumer access to fresh, locally grown food and a larger consumer market for the region’s farmers.
 
At the conclusion of the study, an application was submitted to The Health Foundation for funding of a pilot year. A slate of programs falling into three categories have been identified for the pilot grant year.

These initiatives will:

support healthy local food access

job creation

economic development

While the food hub currently has no official headquarters, much of the pilot year activities will be operated out of the Worcester County Food Bank in, Shrewsbury.
 
“Food is fundamental to our lives. We all eat, and we all want to eat fresh healthy food. So, ease of access to affordable healthy food is critically important to us, regardless of our station in life. Yet, it is estimated that 90 percent of the food we eat in New England comes from somewhere else,” stated Dr. Jan Yost, president of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. “Thus, the Foundation is pleased to announce a grant of $423,235 to the Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts to partner with the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce to pilot a regional food hub.”

Yost went on to explain that, “Today 80 percent of the land in New England is covered with forest, much of which used to be farmland. Researchers suggest that by 2060, New England could expand its farmland to 6 million acres, or 15 percent of the entire land mass, which would enable New England to grow half of its own food.”
 
“The Worcester County Food Bank is the region’s largest anti-hunger organization, annually distributing nearly 6 million pounds of donated fresh and non-perishable food to a network of 131 Partner Agencies that help feed hungry people”, said Jean McMurray, Worcester County Food Bank’s Executive Director. 

She continued: “We are proud to host the Food Hub’s pilot year because we believe that healthy food grown and processed by community members benefits the entire community, including those struggling with poverty and hunger.”
 
Responsibility for pilot year activities will be split among the partner organizations, with the REC leading efforts to create opportunities for healthy eating via marketing, aggregation, and distribution of local farm products to institutional food service providers at area schools, colleges, and hospitals.

An initial group of eight to ten small to mid-sized family farms will be involved in these activities during the pilot year and four to five institutional buyers will be purchasing local farm products via the food hub.

The food hub will also be working to enhance healthy, local food offerings through the REC’s existing Mobile Farmers Market and through the City of Worcester Division of Public Health’s Mass In Motion Healthy Corner Store initiative.
 
”The REC has been working with organizational partners and grassroots community members for decades to help make healthy, local food universally accessible in the Greater Worcester area,” said Steve Fischer, REC Executive Director. “We are thrilled at the prospect that a regional food hub could help create a regional food system that is increasingly based on principles of economic and social justice and environmental sustainability. Working together, we have an opportunity to make healthy food more accessible while supporting local farmers, growing the economy, creating jobs, and preserving the environment.”
 
The Chamber will oversee food hub activities operated through a Commercial Kitchen Incubator to be located at the Worcester County Food Bank. During the pilot year, the Chamber will spearhead the recruitment of potential tenants including farmers, budding food entrepreneurs, small culinary businesses looking to take the next step in their development, and even home cooks looking to scale up a long-held family recipe.
 
“Given the success of last year’s planning grant process, we are excited to move forward with this pilot year that will set the stage for long-term success,” stated Chamber president and CEO Timothy P. Murray. “Our efforts with the commercial kitchen fit into our working motto of recruit, retain and incubate. Incubating the next generation of food entrepreneurs will help them turn their passion into a career, add to the region’s growing food economy, and result in a healthier population in Worcester and Central Massachusetts.”
 
The final piece of the pilot year project is a culinary training program that will be overseen by Quinsigamond Community College (QCC).

QCC expects to train at least 2 cohorts of 8-10 students and to provide job placement at area restaurants, caterers and institutional food service providers.

This new certificate program will target students who are members of vulnerable populations in Worcester County and who have previously experienced barriers to employment.
 
Dale Allen, QCC’s vice president for community engagement stated “Quinsigamond Community College is excited about being selected as a key partner in this grant. We are committed to supporting program activities that will increase access to healthy, fresh foods for underserved neighborhoods in our city. This program will be modeled after QCC’s successful ‘Cooking Up a Culinary Career’ program which has been offered for the past several years through the Worcester Youth Center and Hector Reyes House. We look forward to working with the Regional Environmental Council and Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce to expand access to healthy food and economic self-sufficiency for vulnerable populations in Worcester County.”
 
All of the pilot activities will be carefully evaluated and measured by an evaluation team from John Snow Inc., a health consultant company. Working closely with the grant management team throughout the pilot year JSI will continually evaluate the activities to provide real time feedback. The success of the outcomes of the various aspects of the piloted activities will be key to determining how the food hub operates after the pilot year.
 
The Food Hub project will hire a full-time operations manager to oversee the day-to-day aspects of the project during the pilot year.

Other partners collaborating on the project include Central Mass Grown, World Farmers/Flats Mentor Farm, Worcester Public Schools, Pepper’s Fine Catering, UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agricultural Extension, Worcester Division of Public Health and the Community Harvest Project.

Baby love

By Rosalie Tirella

The newspaper story was four paragraphs long, but I could see it all clearly, this Worcester story, more footnote than story. You’d have called it a “metro note” in the old days when we all got our news from physical newspapers and the physical length of the story, one skinny column, would be maybe four inches long and tucked in the side of the page, like an afterthought … or like something that was either too insignificant to write about or TOO SIGNIFICANT to write about because THIS WAS LIFE and you only had some city beat news nerd on the job, when who you needed was Tolstoy!

So tiny this metro note! It read something like this: A 5 week old baby dead. She was sleeping with her parents on an air mattress, when they discovered she (we’ll call her Mary) had died. The parents in their early 20s, had another baby, just two years old, sleeping with them on their air mattress, too. The other baby was alive.

When the police came to the Worcester apartment on that cold winter night they noted the young parents – children themselves some might say! – were distraught. The dead baby – just 5 weeks old! – had dried blood in her nostrils. They said she had been dead for several hours. The parents said the family was on that one air mattress because they were moving! An investigation is being conducted. Stained Baby Wipes, a sheet, a blanket were taken by the authorities to be tested and studied.

SO GOES THE BABY, SO GOES WORCESTER!

SO GOES THE BABY, SO GOES THE CITY!

Oh, what might have happened on that cold Worcester winter night, in a flat over by Green Hill Park! What fears – what kind of fate – did a poor young family face in wintertime? There are so many of these families in Worcester, all quietly leading lives of hardship.

A family like so many in Worcester, but one who walking the tight rope between tragedy and grinding poverty fell into tragedy, death. It’s no wonder we don’t read more stories like this one! The city is filled with young poor parents and their tiny innocent babies. Why just a few weeks ago, on Ward Street, my street a young man beat his young girlfriend’s three year old babe so badly that he almost died, his intestines were smashed up so badly! I, personally fell in love with a little girl and her two year old brother and wrote about them here. They’ve left Ward Street, I think. I’ll always remember: the little boy, still wearing diapers maybe, being led by his tiny sister, in the dark, across Ward Street, the cars zooming up and down both ways. The little girl holding her brother’s hand. The little boy still smiling softly because I had given him a cute green plush toy to give to his Chihuahua mix, Beauty.

SO GO THE BABIES, SO GOES WORCESTER!

The Green Hill Park family … very poor, on the cusp of homelessness? Possibly moving out of a place they haven’t paid rent on, running to the next shitty apartment … on the run like seemingly half the families of kids in the Worcester Public Schools. The trend has been studied. I forget what our experts called it. All I know is they said very few inner city WPS kids graduate from the Worcester elementary school they started kindergarten in. The families are always moving, the kids fall behind in school work, lose friendships …

So the Green Hill Park family with a few pieces of furniture and four mouths to feed, four bodies to clothe, four minds to nourish … All that preciousness sleeping on a Wal-Mart air mattress – hard, inflated, thrown on the floor, where its especially cold and drafty on a Worcester winter night.

The parents have little but they love their babies! They, like lots of poor folks, are operating on instinct. There is much stress, too. Living so close to the bone, can make for incredible intimacy. The basics are covered primitively but often the gestures, the emotions, are TRUE! When I was a little girl growing up in Green Island, and we lived in a cold, drafty tenement on Lafayette Street, my Polish immigrant grandmother, Bapy, my mom and I ALL SLEPT TOGETHER in my Bapy’s big black squeaky metal bed, under a big goose down quilt from Poland. It was heavy and mountainous! You sweated underneath that behemoth of bedding! As a child I loved to pounce on it during the day! Jump all over it and pretend I was in the Swiss Alps playing hide and seek with reindeers in the white, glistening mountains.

My mom stuck me between her and Bapy so I wouldn’t fall off the bed! I was just a baby then, and I too was cold in my crib! I still recall the smell of my mother’s rounded back! She smelled like sweat and cabbage soup! I loved being snuggly and warm between my chubby grandmother and round-backed mother. Like a bear cub all safe and dreamy in the cozy bear den!

So the five week old was cranky at midnight, on the outskirts of Green Hill Park in Worcester, where the winter wind bends the tree branches and they creak as the wind makes them go left, then right, in ways that are unnatural to them, you feel the stiffness in society’s soul:

How can we, as a city, as a country, allow so many of our children to go hungry, go underclothed and underfed? How can we live with ourselves as they cough in $1,000 a month shit holes, with parents who don’t know enough to ask the landlords for more and landlords who are slumlords in that it’s all about making the biggest dollar on the dime, five week old babies be damned.

And they are! To lives that start out so rough they never really recover! And here we are in Worcester and America STILL DEBATING FREE UNIVERSAL PRE-K and DAYCARE!

SO GO THE CHILDREN, SO GOES THE CITY!

SO GO THE CHILDREN, SO GOES THE COUNTRY!

So the 5 week old on the outskirts of Green Hill Park was cranky in its bed, so the parents took it up and brought it to sleep with them: for warmth, for soothing, for love …

And then: Death. Death comes to a baby who’s hardly been born! A five week old human baby is so small and innocent! It is hard to believe they grow up to be … us!

Have you ever looked at a baby’s finger nails?! Like little moon crescents … like lamb’s dreams and daisy chains … and yet there they be: in a Lafayette Street cold water flat, in a Green Hill Park apartment on an air mattress on the floor in wintertime!

Years and years ago I lived in Hartford Connecticut and found myself a social worker-case manager. It was a job I’ll never forget: Hartford at the time was one of the country’s poorest cities, the families we cared for seemed out of … Appalachia. Fat from frying pans was thrown out into backyards where skittish stray dogs would run up and gobble it all up and run away. Children’s mothers nodded off to heroin, while their little child sat in the kitchen with old, toothless granny who couldn’t read or write but was caring for them because she had the apartment in the projects and she was, I was told, a good lady.

And there are so many good people in horrific life circumstances! Often the smallest ones are the princes and princesses we can never forget! Take this Hartford day, many years ago:

I and my fellow case worker were doing home visits, going into the projects to visit the parents and guardians of the little boys and girls who were in the program. This one little boy, about 4, had a beautiful mother: long, wavy jet black hair, curvy, but lithe figure, gorgeous white teeth, voluptuous lips … Naturally, there were about a million asshole guys buzzing around her door. Once we came to visit her – and she was in the middle of having sex with this gorgeous, muscular Adonis- the kind if rare guy who looks a thousand times better OUT of his clothes! I can say this because he was the one who answered the door bell – came to the door in just his briefs to tell us NOT NOW, GO AWAY, COME BACK SOME OTHER DAY.

And we did!

Now here we were, back again, to complete the home visit, my coworker in the kitchen with mom, the boyfriend out, me sitting in the living room with the little boy standing before me. There was nothing in the living room but two fold out foam chairs, just foam blocks really covered in cheap beige polyester. The walls were beige too and unadorned. But the little boy was so BEAUTIFUL, like a little emerald in a briar patch. He smiled at me and waved for me to follow him into the kitchen. I did. And watched as he went to the refrigerator open the door and took out a little box of juice and turning offered it to me.

I smiled and took his gift, most likely from our program or the neighborhood food pantry. Then I went back into the living room, took the saran wrap off the little straw that was attached to the juice box and stuck it into the little aluminum foil covered hole at the top corner of the little box and began slurping noisily, smiling at the little boy who took a seat on the foam block opposite me. Tears flowed out of my eyes as I slurped my grape juice because I had seen the inside of hos family’s refrigerator when he was reaching in to get the little juice box. There was nothing in it, except one other little juice box! That was it! On all four metal shelves! In the two big, clear plastic vegetable and fruit drawers! The yellow refrigerator 60 watt light bulb shone starkly, shone meanly on all that barrenness.

I remember saying, to the little boy, through my tears: YOU’RE SUCH A GOOD BOY! YOU’RE SUCH A GOOD BOY!

And he was such a good baby!

Just like the five week old baby who died such a premature death on the outskirts of Green Hill Park, on a cold winter night, here in Worcester.

SO GO THE BABIES, SO GOES OUR CITY!

In A.I. for today … Congressman McGovern and Congresswoman DeLauro on National Commission on Hunger Report

The National Commission on Hunger released today their final report, Freedom from Hunger: An Achievable Goal for The United States of America, Recommendations of the National Commission on Hunger to Congress and the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. The Hunger Commission was created by the Omnibus Appropriations Bill of 2014 and Commission members were appointed equally by House and Senate leaders.
 
Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), two of the leading voices in Congress calling for strong investments in anti-hunger programs, released the following statements in response to the report.
 
Representative McGovern (D-MA) said, “Today’s National Hunger Commission report is a powerful reminder that we have much more work to do to end hunger for American families. With strict parameters and a limited budget, writing this report was no easy task and I’m grateful to the Commission members for the report and its recommendations. This report underscores how fundamentally important and effective our federal nutrition programs are to reducing hunger, most notably the Supplemental Food Assistance Program, or SNAP.
 
“SNAP is first and foremost a food program, not a jobs program. SNAP cannot be expected to solve the broader economic challenges or barriers faced by people ready and willing to work so they can provide for their families. We must continue to strengthen SNAP as America’s premier anti-hunger entitlement program.
 
“Additionally, I have long called for a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Hunger to develop a holistic plan to end hunger in this country once and for all. So I am pleased that the report calls for the creation of a White House Leadership Council to End Hunger – a key step to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to do just that. Hunger is essentially a political problem. We have the food, resources, and ability to end hunger. What’s lacking is the political will. I hope this report will help spur more discussion, attention, and action to end hunger for families across the country.”
 
Representative DeLauro (D-CT) said, “The National Hunger Commission was given a difficult task in examining the state of hunger in America and I thank the Commission for its hard work. The report confirms, as we already knew, that SNAP and other anti-hunger programs are highly effective at reducing hunger across the country. These programs are critical in meeting the nutritional needs of our families and as the report highlights, we cannot afford to cut or block grant the programs.
 
“However, while the Commission solely focused on the 17.2 million Americans suffering the lowest level of food security, we should also bring attention to the other 30.9 million Americans suffering from marginal food security. By doing so, we can better understand all of the nation’s hunger problems and the associated human, economic and fiscal costs. We must go further in combatting hunger in America and find solutions for the full magnitude of the nation’s poverty and hunger issues.”
 

From Massachusetts Farm to School

salad

Dear Friends,

In this season of giving thanks, we have much to be thankful for at Mass. Farm to School. This season is also a time of transition, as farmers mark the end of the harvest season and look ahead to next year. Here at Mass. Farm to School we are also experiencing a time of transition.

After several months of strategic planning, this November we transitioned out of our host organization, Project Bread – The Walk for Hunger, and to a new host organization at Farm to Institution New England (FINE), with fiscal sponsor Third Sector New England. We are very excited to work with FINE staff and partners to strengthen farm to school programs in Massachusetts and to connect with broader farm to institution efforts across New England.

While you, our partners and supporters, will likely notice few changes in our programs or staff, we thought it was meaningful to announce this transition and, very importantly, to give thanks for the skilled and generous sponsorship that Project Bread has offered since 2013. Over the past two years, Project Bread helped us strengthen our organizational capacity and enabled us to develop strong programmatic partnerships with their wonderful initiatives, including the Chefs In Schools program and the Child Nutrition Outreach Program.

We look forward to continuing these partnerships in the years to come. We also want to thank all of you who took part in the planning process which helped us arrive at this transition. We look forward to your continued involvement and the contributions of many other partners as we work to build out a robust Massachusetts Farm to School Network.

We are very thankful that we are now well positioned to make great strides in achieving our organizational goals — to see a thriving local food system in Massachusetts in which all have access to healthy, locally grown food, and local foods procurement and food and agriculture education are ingrained in the fabric of our schools.

We would like to once again thank Project Bread and to thank each of you for your dedication to growing the farm to school movement in Massachusetts.

Sincerely,

Simca Horwitz & Lisa Damon

Mass. Farm to School Program Directors

Congressman Jim McGovern named a Children’s Champion (Go, Jim, go!!!)

The First Focus Campaign for Children, a national bipartisan children’s advocacy group, recognized today U.S. Representatives Katherine Clark and Jim McGovern for their leadership on issues important to the health and well-being of children during 2015.
 
“Lots of politicians talk about kids’ issues, but few back it up,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the Campaign for Children. “Congresswoman Clark and Congressman McGovern delivered for kids.”
                                   In selecting Champions, the First Focus Campaign for Children noted leaders who introduced, co-sponsored, and voted for legislation to meet children’s needs.

In addition, the organization considered Members who demonstrated extraordinary initiative by spearheading activities such as sponsoring hearings or garnering the support of their colleagues to improve the health and well-being of children.
 
The advocacy organization recognized as “Champions for Children” 50 Members of Congress for their extraordinary efforts to protect and improve the future of America’s next generation.

An additional 50 Members were recognized as “Defenders of Children” for their support of policies that advance the well-being of children. The 2015 Champions and Defenders are:
 
2015 Champions for Children
 
Senate
 
Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Rob Portman (R-OH)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Harry Reid (D-NV)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)
 
House
 
Karen Bass (D-CA)
Judy Chu (D-CA)
David Cicilline (D-RI)
Katherine Clark (D-MA)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Danny Davis (D-IL)
Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
Ted Deutch (D-FL)
Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
Keith Ellison (D-MN)
Chris Gibson (R-NY)
Gene Green (D-TX)
Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL)
Richard Hanna (R-NY)
Mike Honda (D-CA)
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
Ann Kuster (D-NH)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM)
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Doris Matsui (D-CA)
Betty McCollum (D-MN)
Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Gwen Moore (D-WI)      
Charles Rangel (D-NY)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA)
Steve Stivers (R-OH)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)
 
2015 Defenders of Children
 
Senate
 
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Ed Markey (D-MA)
Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
 
House
 
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Tony Cárdenas (D-CA)
John Conyers (D-MI)
Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Susan Davis (D-CA)
Charlie Dent (R-PA)
Bob Dold (R-IL)
Donna Edwards (D-MD)
Eliot Engel (D-NY)
Elizabeth Esty (D-CT)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Derek Kilmer (D-WA)
Jim Langevin (D-RI)
Sandy Levin (D-MI)
John Lewis (D-GA)
Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Nita Lowey (D-NY)
Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY)
Patrick Murphy (D-FL)
Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Jared Polis (D-CO)
Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Dave Reichert (R-WA)
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Bobby Scott (D-VA)
Jackie Speier (D-CA)
Mike Thompson (D-CA)
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
Juan Vargas (D-CA)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ)
Frederica Wilson (D-FL)
John Yarmuth (D-KY)
                                                  
This is the Campaign for Children’s sixth annual class of Champions for Children. For more information about past honorees, visit www.campaignforchildren.org.
 
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit campaignforchildren.org.

On World Food Day Congressman McGovern Renews Call to End Hunger In U.S. and Around the World

Congressman Jim McGovern, Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition, and Democratic Co-Chair of the House Hunger Caucus and the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, released yesterday the following statement in recognition of World Food Day. Established to commemorate the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945, World Food Day also serves as a time to bring attention to global development and humanitarian programs that fight hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty:

“With the advances of today’s global agriculture, there is no excuse for the world hunger we currently see. Whether in the U.S. or anywhere else in the world, no child or family should have to wonder where their next meal will come from.

“Unfortunately, tens of millions of individuals in America and hundreds of millions across the globe face that challenge every day.

“In America alone, 48.1 million individuals suffer from food insecurity, including 15.3 million children. Globally, 805 million people feel the effects of hunger day in and day out. This is unacceptable.

“We, as a nation and as a global population, need to acknowledge that the right to adequate food is a basic human right. 

“Solving hunger must be a shared goal. In the U.S., we need to strengthen our investment in SNAP and other anti-hunger programs, and continue to work with a broad coalition of anti-hunger organizations.

“Globally, we need to work with our international partners, the business community, NGOs and universities to effectively combat, and eventually end, hunger across the world. 

“Together we are making progress in fighting hunger as the world is beginning to meet anti-hunger goals. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals include the goal of ending hunger by 2030. Solving hunger is possible in our lifetime and I am proud to support this ambitious goal.

“I will continue to fight against hunger to ensure that everyone in the U.S. and around the world has access to the basic human right of adequate food and food security. On this World Food Day, I urge my fellow members of Congress to join me in this fight to end hunger now.”

– Jim McGovern

For the babies and the children!!!

From Congressman Jim McGovern’s office. – R.T.

On House Floor, McGovern Calls Hunger a Solvable Issue Key to Supporting Healthy Families
 
For 49 Million Americans,
Struggle with Hunger Can Bring Serious Health Challenges
 
Congressman McGovern Highlights Worcester County Food Bank, Community Harvest Project, Community Servings, Other Massachusetts Efforts to Help Hungry Families
   
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Jim McGovern spoke today on the House floor to highlight the connection between addressing hunger in the United States – impacting 49 million Americans – and supporting healthy families. McGovern recognized Massachusetts organizations like Worcester County Food Bank, Community Harvest Project, and Community Servings for their efforts to treat hunger as a health issue and help families in need.

The full text of Congressman McGovern’s floor speech is below.
 
As Prepared For Delivery:

 
“Supporting healthy families and strong communities starts with access to healthy food, but for many families, it’s a struggle just to put food on the table. And a growing body of research shows why we should all be concerned with hunger as a health issue.
 
“For the 49 million Americans who struggle with food insecurity – or hunger – access to nutritious foods – and enough ­ healthy food — is a real challenge that can have serious negative health consequences far beyond just a growling stomach.
 
“Hunger can exacerbate underlying medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease and cancer and can result in life-threatening complications. Not only that, hunger can result in more trips to the emergency room and more hospitalizations which only increases health care costs across the board.
 
“A recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that households with low food security had 49 percent higher health care costs than those who didn’t have to worry about where their next meal was coming from. And, health care costs were an astonishing 121 percent higher for those with very low food security.
 
“Similarly, a 2014 article in the journal Health Affairs reported that hospitals saw a 27 percent increase in hypoglycemia cases among low income individuals at the end of the month as compared to the beginning of the month.
 
“You might wonder why that is. The sad truth is that these cases of hypoglycemia – or low blood sugar – are likely more prevalent at the end of the month because this is when SNAP benefits run out for many individuals and families.
 
“When families don’t have enough to eat, their health suffers. We hear time and time again that the current monthly SNAP benefit is inadequate. That families must scramble to cobble together enough to eat from food pantries and charities.
 
“Seniors are especially vulnerable to hunger as a health issue. Many seniors live on fixed incomes and are often faced with the tough choice of paying for their medications or paying for food. For seniors, taking medication on an empty stomach can be especially dangerous and may land them in the hospital.
 
“It is astounding that some of America’s most vulnerable families must face these challenges month after month, year after year.
 
“But the good news is that hunger can also be one of the most “treatable” health conditions. Hunger is solvable. We have the resources. We just need to muster the political will to end hunger now..
 
“One organization that has for years been doing incredible work to reframe the paradigm of hunger as a health issue is Community Servings, a Massachusetts-based non-profit that delivers free meals to homebound individuals and their families. Their meals are “medically tailored” to meet the specific dietary needs of the recipients..
 
“The Community Servings model addresses two of the biggest barriers that low income individuals who are dealing with extended illness face: shopping for food and preparing meals. Community Servings takes care of that so patients can focus on getting better without worrying about where their next meal is coming from.
 
“The Community Servings model shows great promise in not only fighting hunger but also in saving money in our health care system. A survey last year of doctors and nurses who care for Community Servings’ clients found that 96 percent said the meals improved their clients’ health and 65 percent said they believed the meals had resulted in fewer hospitalizations.
 
“We also need to do a better job of connecting our hospitals and community health centers and VA hospitals with farmers markets.
 
“Organizations like Wholesome Wave are effectively expanding their Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, where doctors can write a “prescription” for fruits and vegetables that individuals can then immediately “fill” at a farmers market that might be set up on the hospital grounds one or two days a week.
 
“Boston Medical Center has addressed hunger as a health issue head on with its Preventive Food Pantry permanently located in the hospital itself. Here, low income families can work with a dietician to choose foods that meet their dietary needs with an emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables.
 
“And food banks and food pantries are finding innovative ways to partner with local farms to provide more fresh produce to low-income families. I’m proud to represent one such forward-thinking partnership in my congressional district. Every year, the Community Harvest Project, run through a local farm in Grafton, Massachusetts, donates hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to the Worcester County Food Bank.
 
“And finally, we ought to do a better job of educating doctors and nurses about what hunger looks like. I’m always surprised when I talk to medical students that they only take one or two – if any – classes in nutrition.
 
“That’s why I’m proud to be a cosponsor of my friend Congressman Tim Ryan’s bill – the ENRICH  Act – which would provide grants to improve nutrition education among health care professionals.
 
“As Members of Congress, we talk a lot about finding ways to save money in our health care system. In that same conversation, we need to do a better job of understanding that food is medicine. That we can’t just address hunger and health as two separate issues. They’re two sides of the same coin.
 
“Hunger is a health issue. And it should be treated as such.
 
“We can and should do more to end hunger now.”
 

South Worcester: box gardening!

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Executive Director Ron Charette at the neighborhood garden beds. 50 Worcester inner-city families have their own big box gardens or beds like this one! Go, South Worcester, go!!!!!

By Ron O’Clair

I had an opportunity to visit recently with Ron Charette of the South Worcester Neighborhood Center at 47 Camp Street to see what they have been doing with the families in the area in regards to providing a place for them to grow their own food.

There are 50 Box Gardens and 10 Garden Beds set out in the far right corner of the property. which once was devoted to a City of Worcester Swimming Pool that was a memory of my own youth growing up around the Four Corners when I lived on Princeton Street and would go to what we referred to as: Maloney’s Field to swim, play in the grass, and just have a good time. Back then, the City of Worcester maintained a number of pools throughout the city for the residents to enjoy on the hot summer days of my youth. Now, there does not seem to be enough money in the budget to provide pools for the neighborhoods like back then.

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Big, healthy veggies in South Worcester box gardens!

Anyways, the earth that is being used to grow the vegetables outside the neighborhood center is actually composted from yard wastes that city residents drop off at the City of Worcester drop sites on Chandler Street, across from Foley Stadium, the old Ballard Street incinerator that is now on Millbury Street with the change in the street names that coincided with the Rt. 146 project, and I believe out on Clark Street.

City residents can drop off their yard wastes, provided it is not full of trash, and is in paper bags, no plastic allowed.
The WorcesterMa.gov website gives the details of where and when they allow you to bring your material for recycling.

The gardens are a collaborative effort of the South Worcester Neighborhood Center, Nuestro Huerto, and the City of Worcester Department of Public Works & Parks to provide area residents a place to learn how to produce their own food. There are 50 families who have box gardens and come to tend to the task of making things grow. It is a rewarding experience for all, especially the young who learn that food just does not magically appear on supermarket shelves.

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Poor families learn how to grow their own food. So healthy for the kids – and a great learning experience for them, too!

Executive Director Ron Charette refers to it as a “partnership for the future” that will bring awareness to many about how they can help provide for their family through efforts such as this. Many of these urban gardeners would not have a place to use to grow their own food without this program being in place. Many of the families come from various parts of the world: there are African, Asian and Latino families, as well as just about every type of family there is here in the great melting pot that is Worcester.

There are many different varieties and types of vegetables being grown, each according to the taste of the participant.

In the South Worcester gardens I saw many different varieties of lettuce. There were items that grow on vines, like cucumbers, squash. pumpkins and zucchini, as well as corn, beans and peas of many different varieties. Someone who likes eggplant is growing them as well.

This is basically for the children, who learn as well as have fun growing the food stuffs that eventually they will be be able to enjoy when harvest time comes.

All of the people involved in this project deserve recognition for all they do to make it possible: Ron Charette and the South Worcester Neighborhood Center, Nuestro Huerto – which also has other spots in the city under cultivation like the spot on Oread Street – and the City of Worcester Public Works & Parks Department which provides the compost to grow the vegetables in, and all the people of the city who contribute to the recycling program that produces the compost through participation in the yard waste recycling program.

It seems like a win/win situation all around!

If you care to comment, you may contact the author at: ronaldoclair@hotmail.com