Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
FULTON, NY – The need for food subsidy and the lack of accessible nutrition information, is of great concern to the many human services agencies that serve Oswego County.
While many area food pantries are serving more families and individuals than ever before, a significant amount of other families and individuals are lacking in the knowledge of how to locate and access food pantries as well as learning more about proper nutrition for themselves and their families.
In an effort to address this issue and combat it head on the Nutrition Collaboration of Oswego County has compiled a comprehensive Resource Directory.
“Although, nutritional resources are available, we believed there was a need for a Nutrition Directory that was as comprehensive as possible and was user friendly for agencies to locate food resources where their clients live. The directory provides local human service agencies with valuable information that they may share with their clients regarding food subsidy and access to nutritional information,” said Amy Roland, director, OCO Nutrition Services.
Organized by school district, the Nutrition Collaboration Resource Directory contains contact information for agencies and organizations that deal with hunger issues, a list of food pantries and soup kitchens complete with location and hours of operation; locations for free food distributions; and information and locations for the Food Sense program. Updated regularly, the directory is looking to add a list of days and times for area farmers’ markets, as well as contact information on community gardens that exist in Oswego County.
“We have heard very positive feedback regarding the resource directory,” added Roland. “The agencies have responded that the format of the directory, and the critical contact information that it contains, allows them to quickly provide their clients with accurate information. It has proven to be a valuable resource when discussing the availability of food subsidy for those who live in Oswego County.”
To date the Nutrition Collaboration Resource Directory has been distributed to the appropriate agencies.
For more information on the directory, contact Roland at Oswego County Opportunities at 315-598-4712 or via e-mail at [email protected]
The Nutrition Collaboration Resource Directory marks the completion of one of the organization’s two initial goals. The other goal of establishing a community garden began last spring and was an immediate success. Located in Fulton, the community garden provided consumers of local food pantries with the opportunity to come together to tend their garden and raise fresh vegetables for themselves and others who depend on food subsidy.
“With approximately 50% of Oswego County students eligible for free or reduced meals, and more than 15% of Oswego County residents living below the poverty level, our community garden project offers the healthy alternative of growing food at a very reasonable cost,” said Roland.
Danielle Wert, coordinator of the Rural Health Network of Oswego County, a partner in the Nutrition Collaboration, credited the success of the community garden project to the outpouring of support that it received.
“Thanks to the assistance we received from Cornell Cooperative Extension, the city of Fulton, the Fulton Housing Authority, and our valued volunteers, the community garden project was a complete success. As a result of that success, there are plans to add an additional 12 garden beds, which will more than double the size of last year’s garden. We are looking forward to this year’s community garden project and are anxious to begin preparing the beds for spring planting,” said Wert.
The Nutrition Collaboration is currently soliciting Fulton city residents interested in participating in the community garden project.
“Participants will receive their own garden plot. The vegetables, herbs, or flowers that they raise will be theirs to enjoy. We will be providing support as needed so even those who have never tended a garden before will be able to enjoy success,” added Wert.
Fulton city residents interested in participating in the community garden may contact Roland at 315-598-4712 for more information.
With these goals accomplished, the Nutrition Collaboration is hard at work exploring other opportunities, including the possibility of a weekly community market in Mexico and the feasibility of establishing a subsidized, community supported agriculture project. While these ideas are only in their infant stages Wert did add that the Nutrition Collaboration is committed to its mission of positively affect nutrition, wellness and hunger in Oswego County.
“We are always searching for new and innovative ways in which we can create a healthier Oswego County,” said Wert.