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Shannon Baldwin

Articles by Shannon Baldwin

Food and Jobs Coming Soon to Schools and Families in West Philly

Philadelphia's Westside is home to many families who struggle to make ends meet, and also to put healthy, nutritious food on the table. An initiative led by People’s Emergency Center (PEC), Fresh Start Foods and Drexel University hopes to bring a little hunger and economic relief to these neighborhoods. The initiative, called Fresh Start Foods West Philadelphia, will provide fresh and healthy prepared meals for local schools while offering out-of-work young adults culinary apprenticeship jobs that provide living wages with benefits. Additionally, a retail store offering healthy meals to the community will be developed. The store is scheduled to open in fall 2015. Fresh Start Foods West Philadelphia has been boosted by more than $700,000 in federal and state grants, including ...

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Healthy Food Hub Opens in Spartenburg

Many exciting food access initiatives are happening in South Carolina, where Latinos are the fastest growing minority population. In the city of Spartenburg, non profits and community leaders have transformed food desert areas by planting community gardens and doubling SNAP benefits at the farmers' market. But folks in Spartenburg wanted to do more, so they have created Harvest Park in the underserved Northside neighborhood. This ground-breaking shopping plaza represents all aspects of the food system. It will be the permanent home of the Hub City Farmers' Market, which will now be able to operate year-round.  The urban farm at the rear of the property cultivates produce on a half-acre site, the bounty of which eventually ends up in the Hub City Farmers' Market’s Mobile Market ...

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National Menu Labeling Finalized for Restaurants, Move Theaters, and More

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has finalized two rules requiring that calorie information be listed on menus and menu boards in chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments and vending machines. Improved food labeling was required under the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, but it took a while for the FDA and the food industry to get in-step on this issue. Now folks will have more nutrition information provided to them pretty much wherever food is sold in hopes that they might make healthier food and drink choices. Take out food, snacks from a movie theater or amusement park, pastries at a cafe, and more are some of the new types of food that will now require nutrition information. Read the FDA press release here. Read the FDA fact sheet on menu labeling ...

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More Double Up Bucks Coming To Oklahoma’s Farmers’ Markets

Studies show that when folks receiving federal food assistance like SNAP get vouchers to double their assistance money at farmers' markets, they buy more fresh fruits and vegetables. Because many lawmakers and healthy food advocates see this as a way to encourage families to eat more produce, areas across the country are bringing these "double-up" programs to their farmers' markets. In Oklahoma beginning in 2015, SNAP recipients will be able to double their benefits at the farmers' market at 9 locations across the state. Funds for this practice were provided in part by the 2014 Farm Bill, which allocated around 100 million dollars nationally to support these types of programs. In a local news article, Michael Appel with Three Springs Farms said he was the first farmer in the ...

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Veggie Van to Roam the Streets of Waco

In Waco, TX, many residents don't live near full-service grocery stores, making it difficult to buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are important for a healthy diet. Fortunately, a local nonprofit has decided to help bring fresh produce to these underserved areas with a new "veggie van." World Hunger Relief Inc. is already active in supporting healthy living in the Waco area. They sell produce from their farm at the Downtown Waco Farmers' Market and to members who buy-in to their Community Supported Agriculture. But the group saw an opportunity to reach folks who might be short on time or lack adequate transportation. The Veggie Van will begin selling fresh produce around Waco in January 2015 in areas that lack fresh options. They plan to accept SNAP benefits and plan on offering ...

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Navajo Nation Approves Tax on Junk Food, Funds to Promote Healthy Food

The Navajo Nation, faced with rising rates of obesity, has decided to take make some healthy changes. On Jan. 30, 2014, the Navajo Nation Council voted in favor of the Healthy Diné Nation Act to increase the sales tax on junk food, by two percent and eliminate the five percent sales tax on healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, water, nuts and seeds. What is considered junk? Sugary drinks and snack foods that are highly processed and low in nutritional quality including chips, candy, pastries and the like. Revenue from the tax would be deposited into a special fund that will help develop projects such as wellness centers, community parks, basketball courts, running trails, community gardens and health education classes. The bill was sent to Navajo Nation President Ben ...

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‘Hope Farms’ to Bring Healthy Food, Jobs to Underserved Areas of Houston

Recipe for Success has a long history of bringing fun and delicious nutrition education into Houston classrooms and encouraging kids to eat their veggies at home. Now, along with planting seeds of knowledge, the non-profit will be planting actual seeds as well. Gracie Cavnar, founder of Recipe for Success, created Hope Farms, a food-access project meant to empower residents in Houston's struggling neighborhood of Sunnyside, to provide healthful foods to their children. "Hope Farms has been on my menu of solutions ever since I conjured up the idea for Recipe for Success," Cavnar said in an article in the Houston Chronicle. "We want to teach children about food by connecting them to it in a visceral way with hands-on nutritional education and work on food access and food-justice ...

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Foraging for Edible Weeds Could be Bay Area Food Desert Solution

Two University of California at Berkeley professors are hoping to prove that grocery stores and farmers' markets aren't the only places to find fresh fruits and vegetables. They've been taking students to food desert neighborhoods in the bay area to hunt for edibles grown in abandon lots, cracked sidewalks, and along chain linked fences. The project, "Reaping without Sowing: Urban Foraging and Berkeley Open Source Food," was launched by UC Berkeley ethnobotanist Tom Carlson and statistician Philip Stark. On four Thursdays this fall, they and a small group of student volunteers from Carlson’s medical ethnobotany course who are trained in medical and food plant identification roam for hours through three-square-block areas of food deserts in Richmond, Oakland or Berkeley. Using ...

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Dallas Considers Updating Urban Agriculture Policy to Improve Healthy Food Access

City leaders in Dallas, TX want to revamp the city's urban farming policies to allow more folks in Dallas to grow and sell their own fresh food. Many areas around town don't have a large grocery store near by, making it hard for neighbors to buy fresh, healthy food. Advocates see city gardens as one solution to diet-related illnesses that often plague those without easy grocery store access. The Office of Environmental Quality presented their plan to restructure the rules around city gardening to the Dallas City Council Economic Development Committee who endorsed it on November 17, 2014. The city already passed a community garden ordinance in 2011, but many city leaders believe it needs an update to encourage healthier eating, sustainability, and job creation. Currently, for ...

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