Food insecurity amidst agricultural abundance

The Finger Lakes region has a national reputation for quality health care and an innovative and growing food and farming economy.

Yet the health, food and agricultural sectors continue to work in isolation from one another, even as evidence mounts that the way we farm and the food we eat is interwoven with our health on multiple levels.

Despite the agricultural abundance of the Finger Lakes region, many residents in our region experience food insecurity and diet-related problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and poor mental health.

Collaboration to understand barriers

In April 2017, we hosted the Food, Farms and Health Symposium to examine the roots of this problem and to begin a conversation about barriers to accessing healthy food.

As a result of the Symposium, we convened the Food and Health Connection. Led by a steering committee of local experts we started by mapping existing food resources across the region. We also examined rates of food insecurity and diet-related chronic illness.

Research continued in 2018 with analysis of the My Health Story survey and a series of community cafés to better understand the barriers that prevent people from incorporating more fruits and vegetables in their diets.

Inequities and best practices

The Food and Health Connection issued its findings in April 2019. The initiative found that food insecurity is widespread in our region and that only one in ten residents consume the recommended daily servings of vegetables.

The most common barriers to putting fruit and vegetables on the table are cost and the time it takes to shop for and prepare meals from scratch. Innovative and equitable approaches are needed to address these barriers.

The report concluded that community organizations, schools, health systems, government agencies and other groups must work together to make quality produce convenient and affordable for all residents, particularly those with limited financial resources and people with chronic diseases.

 

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Issues - Food and Health Connection - Articles

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    Initiative asks what prevents residents from accessing vegetables and fruits

    January 18, 2019

    Together with partners at S2ay Rural Health Network, Foodlink and a steering committee of local experts, Common Ground Health is seeking to learn more about the access that different communities have to fruits and vegetables, and how these varying levels of access are connected to rates of diet-related illnesses.

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    “When you have kids, it's risky to buy new things”

    December 07, 2018

    A farmers market just for kids lets them try new vegetables without risking a family’s limited food budget. The Food Bank of the Southern Tier runs the Kids' Farmers Market program, which allows kids to "shop" for vegetables of their own choosing. 

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    "Affordability is always the focus": a conversation with Sue Segelman

    September 20, 2018

    Earlier this year we sat down with Sue Segelman, the nutrition outreach and education program coordinator at Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc., to talk about what she sees as our region's greatest challenges to ensuring access to fruits and vegetables for everyone. We also talked about the "programs of promise" that help make fruits and vegetables more widely available.

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    Symposium explores food scarcity amidst agricultural abundance

    April 11, 2017

    The Finger Lakes region is rich in fruit and vegetable farms. Yet in an area of agricultural abundance, 22 percent of the population goes without eating healthy, fresh food. That malnourishment has a profound impact on health outcomes.