Louisiana Update #7: Online support

One of the innovations I have seen in the decentralized recovery efforts (and we have moved from rescue to recovery, with rebuilding as the next step to come) is the idea of aligned organizations in New Orleans using Amazon and other online sites and their direct shipping to buy supplies for their sister organization in one of the flooded zones. Or, create or use accounts for those registered with them and send them items needed directly to the households the next day!

What we learned here in years past is that sending funds to a general account can delay support as it means that checks have to be deposited or  those knee-deep in flooded homes have to manage the funds away from recovery work, wherever internet connections and computers can be found.

This method allows friends outside of the flooded zone to upload the list of items and then those items to be purchased and sent directly to those in need.

Here are 3 of those; the first one in the Baton Rouge area and the second in the Acadiana area:

Together Baton Rouge

Blessings For New Iberia             Their Facebook site

The third may require a little added explanation: Many folks across the U.S. see Mardi Gras only as a time of debauchery, but in reality, it is a celebratory Lenten public event with deep community attachments. Most of the “krewes” that parade are actually social aid clubs that give back to the community throughout the year. The list of their good works is too long to list, but here is one of my favorite walking clubs that will use the direct donation process to help with recovery. They have a list of folks to send the items directly to via the online purchases made by the organization.

Dames de Perlage

I have encouraged some of the farmers in the Acadiana parishes to do this as well, as there are few if any food or farming organizations in the area to collect support on their behalf. As I receive those, I’ll post them in future updates.

For those farmers in the Baton Rouge areas, BREADA has had an active small farms fund for over a decade that will help many such farmers. I saw a sign at the New Orleans farmers market suggesting that Market Umbrella will also be setting up a farm recovery fund that will support their farmers on the North Shore hit hard by this event. More on that later as I get more information.

Truly the recovery has been managed most ably by on the ground organizations, tied together to others via word of mouth, social media or texting. The larger organizations are working as well, but seemingly unable to process real-time innovations or absorb local help very well. This is the new reality of disaster zones:  two separate efforts working at the same time, rarely transecting and with different expectations. Sounds a lot like the food system.

 

 

 

 

CSAs: We Have a Problem

A thoughtful post about CSAs from Small Farm Central’s Simon Huntley is excerpted and linked below. His questions mirror some of the same that are being asked in the farmers market field about sales levels and how to build a regular, return shopper out of an occasional user or even some (of the majority) non-users. I am interested in his CSA research as the relationship between CSAs and farmers markets has yet to be studied in order to more fully understand farmers markets. The market box programs that he mentions are one great example of the shared characteristics that CSAs and farmers markets have that need to be better understood. I remember seeing this for the first time a few years back at the Lakewood Ohio LEAF market that used a CSA vendor as the anchor market vendor. That vendor had signs for their CSA members (how much of an item to take per share) but also a price for walk up non-CSA shoppers with a barter table at the end for CSA members to trade in items they didn’t want. The other vendors benefited greatly from this farmer being on site at this tiny weekday evening market. The last time I was there, the CSA/market vendor was only doing CSA shares (still managed by the volunteer market leadership) as the demand was high enough and other producers had been added to take care of market sales of produce. The whole thing was extremely well-managed, with a lot of opportunities for interactions for shoppers and vendors.
That is an example of a local organization using strategic thinking to build a market appropriately sized and structured for its growers and its shoppers. That thinking led to the organizers using the right type of place, products, people and procedures for their intention.
If only we had a list of the characteristics and projects for each type, we could shorten the learning curve and assist more partners interested in using markets as part of their program goals, and help producers by giving them better information on the outlets they can choose from, able to position themselves better to create the right business plan for those outlets.
As those who read here know, I am devoting my time to assisting FMC in building the Farmers Market Metrics program in order to gather data from the markets themselves that can help all of us find those answers. Certainly, the same framework can be used for CSAs and other direct marketing outlets to allow us to share the impacts on producers, shoppers and the larger community.

Exactly 30 years from the founding season of CSA in the United States, I think we are at an inflection point. Anecdotally, many farms are reporting declining CSA sales, though I should note that this decline has not yet shown up in our data.

Will CSA exist in its current form in 5 or 10 years? I honestly don’t know. I think it could easily go either way: CSA could grow substantially or membership may continue to shrivel…

I believe we need “CSA 2.0” for CSA to thrive over the next 10 years. There likely will continue to be room for traditional CSAs in the marketplace, but to grow the number of families that participate in CSA, we need to become more customer focused. We need to serve eaters better because that is what makes happy members, keeps them coming back, and recommending CSA to their social circles. I know change is hard, but I hope to be a part of modernizing CSA and helping you be profitable with your CSA.

My research leads me to believe that it is fundamentally about providing more choice to members about what is in their box. There are many models out there already that provide that already.

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Source: CSA: We Have a Problem

The Daily Caller Is Totally Wrong About Michelle Obama’s School Lunches 

A study in misrepresentation

The data used in the Virginia Tech study ends in 2007 — five years before the first round of new school lunch standards went into place, three years before Congress passed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, and two years before Barack Obama was officially sworn is as president.

In short, the data from the Virginia Tech study has absolutely nothing to do with Michelle Obama’s school meals program — and actually shows how much reform for school nutrition was needed.
“We found that the longer children were in the programs, the higher their risk of being overweight,” Wen You, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech and co-author of the study, said in a press release. “The question now is what to do in order to not just fill bellies, but make sure those children consume healthy and nutritious food — or at least not contribute to the obesity epidemic.”

Source: The Daily Caller Is Totally Wrong

Louisiana Update #6: Food for everyone

Local-girl-made-good Fleurty Girl CEO Lauren LeBlanc’s FB update shows how the Louisiana culture of food and community comes together when needed. Everyone who was in the Gulf Coast from 2005-2008 remembers how a good meal after hours of tearing out drywall made it possible to come back the next day, and since eating red beans together outside in some tailgating/parade chair is a familiar practice here, normalizing.

Some of our busiest and most celebrated restaurant chefs have been the first to get food out in the worst areas after various disasters.  Just like in 2005, John Besh and his fellow chefs were set up feeding first responders in flooded areas within a few days. 

Free food/hot meals on Saturday, August 20th:

DENHAM SPRINGS:

-Chef Alon Shaya (!!!), of Shaya restaurant in New Orleans, will be cooking red beans and rice with the John Besh Foundation in the Ryan’s parking lot at 916 S. Range Ave in front of the Wal Mart at noon tomorrow.

-The Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation will be grilling burgers in the New Covenant Baptist Church parking lot at 215 Florida Ave (next to James’ Grill) starting serving at 11am.

-A group of NOLA friends will be grilling 1,000 burgers behind the Whitney Bank on Florida Ave in Denham Springs. They’ll also have 800 cookies from Moonshine Bake Shoppe.

-Christ’s Community Church will be setting up out front and serving 6000-8000 hot meals for lunch and dinner at 26574 Juban Road.

ALBANY
– Located at 30057 N. Cafeline Rd. Sat. August 20, starting at 11am, Red Beans, Smoked Sausage over Rice, bread & Cake

GONZALES
-Truckload of non-perishable food will be distributed at The Christian Assembly at 41258 Hwy 941 in Gonzales starting at 2pm.

-Hot meals for lunch and dinner served in the parking lot of Fellowship Church at 10757 Airline Hwy.

PRAIRIEVILLE
-Hot meals for lunch and dinner served in the parking lot of Fellowship Church at 14363 Hwy 73 in Prairieville.

ST. AMANT
-Hot meals at The Church in St. Amant at 13423 Hwy 431 in St. Amant, LA 70769.

ROBERT
-free food and misc supplies in the parking lot across from Robert Supermarket. Should get started at 11am.

Whether you’re cleaning your own home or helping someone with theirs, you’re gonna eat GOOD Saturday! ❤️❤️❤️

10,500 hot meals from @OpBBQRelief distributed at Denham Springs at Sams Club Sunday. Will be doing it again Monday.CqajnEtUsAAe27J.jpg

Louisiana Update #5: Flood victims encouraged to preregister for DSNAP benefits 

DSNAP is being activated for the August 2016 Louisiana Flood and means that rural markets should be prepared to see a influx of folks new to SNAP benefits. Unfortunately, many of our smaller, volunteer-led markets are still deciding whether to become SNAP authorized.
Here are the markets in Louisiana currently authorized as SNAP retailers (of course, some farm stands may also be authorized and are not included in this list):
Abita Springs Farmer’s Market Abita Springs
Cane River Green Market Natchitoches
Capstone Farmers Market 5007 New Orleans
Common Ground Health Clinic-Farmers Market New Orleans
Creole Market New Iberia
Crescent City Farmers Market New Orleans (4 locations)
Inglewood Harvest Barn Alexandria
Lafayette Farmers And Artisans Market Lafayette
Leesville Main Street Market Leesville
Market On LaSalle New Orleans
Marketplace at Armstrong Park New Orleans
Ruston Farmers Market Ruston
Oberlin Farmers’ Market Oberlin
Pearl River Farmers Market Pearl River
Red Stick Farmers Market Baton Rouge (2 locations plus mobile market)
Sankofa Farmers Market New Orleans
Shreveport Farmers’ Market Shreveport
Winn Farmers Market Winnfield

This list contains a few that my information indicates are not currently active and a few of these (9 of the 22) are in New Orleans which is  not near enough to the flooded zone to help most folks.
Since the state has about 80 farmers markets listed in various places, the above list shows how ill-prepared the state’s markets are to absorb these new shoppers.

Of course, some of the markets in Mississippi can also serve this clientele as many of the parishes hit hard are close to the state line; that is, if the benefit users are aware of the rules and where the markets are in MS and if those markets are prepared to accept those temporary SNAP users.

My experience as Deputy Director of Market Umbrella before and after Hurricanes Katrina/Rita (and on staff still during the BP oil spill) showed how much markets can do during disasters to offer solace, community and healthy choices to people under enormous stress. We were one of the few places in New Orleans up and running in 2005 (we reopened November 22) with EBT access, working with our fellow markets* across the area to help producers recover and doing our best to help other outlets open in our city.

From the very beginning in 1995, the founders of our markets had hoped to attract a significant number of at-risk shoppers, but as they opened in the era of EBT, the market was on the wrong side of technology for many years. As a result though, our 2004/2005 SNAP pilot strategy was relatively well thought out and predicated on the reality that our markets had not yet attracted their share of low-income shoppers but had the potential to serve that group as well as the cash shoppers we had attracted. Our token pilot led to the visit in the summer of 2005 of Bill Ludwig and the Southwest Regional FNS staff with then Under Secretary of Agriculture Eric Bost in tow to see and celebrate our early SNAP token and incentive work. Interestingly, Ludwig remarked during the visit on how helpful a token system might be during disasters. As we wrote a few years later, we remembered that comment later in 2005 and reflected on prescient he had been.
That long preparation meant we had outreach and materials to use when the levee breaks and oil spills and floods came (yeah we’re getting used to it) and the staff trained to make it happen.
So what we now know is the ability to support the citizens of towns and cities to recover from a major disaster requires organizational sophistication and preparation, which most of our newly emerging markets across the state are still working to achieve.

It is time for the national market field to create a toolkit for disaster planning, both for its vendors but also for its market organizers in order to be prepared when (not if) a situation like the one unfolding in Louisiana hits their area. USDA and FNS can be very helpful in this planning with needed policy changes such as lifting the requirement of location-specific SNAP licensing/transactions, loosening the ban on on-site hot food again (as was done in past disasters). It would also be helpful for funders like the innovative Wholesome Wave to increase their incentive work for disaster-hit areas along the lines of the incentive we created together for the Gulf Coast fishers in 2010.

Let’s get ready, folks.

How DSNAP works:
If you already receive SNAP benefits and are eligible for disaster benefits, you do not need to pre-register, as benefits will be added to your benefit card automatically.

Pre-registering does not guarantee benefits. DSNAP is only administered after a federally declared disaster and after the state receives approval from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services to activate DSNAP services.After a disaster is declared, residents who have pre-registered only need to visit a DSNAP issuance site to verify their information and identity, determine final eligibility and receive their benefit cards. Eligibility requirements and DSNAP locations will be announced at the time of a disaster.

You may name an Authorized Representative to go to a DSNAP site on your behalf. Accommodations will be made for the elderly and those with disabilities to reduce on-site wait times.The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services  is encouraging those who have experienced loss or damage in the severe storms and flooding to preregister for benefits under the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP).

DSNAP benefits are issued for one month, but they can be used for up to 365 days.  You will get your card when you go to the site, they will be loaded on the card within 3 days.
What amount will I receive in DSNAP benefits?

Household Size DSNAP Allotment
1 $194
2 $357
3 $511
4 $649
5 $771
6 $925
7 $1022
8 $1169
Each Additional Member  +$146

Source: Flood victims in Louisiana encouraged to preregister for DSNAP benefits | New Orleans – WDSU Home

http://www.katc.com/story/32814032/what-you-need-to-know-about-dsnap-food-stamps-benefits

 

 

 

*Deep appreciation for our colleagues at the Red Stick, Covington and Gretna farmers markets who, in 2005, were incredibly helpful to Market Umbrella and offered temporary spots to our vendors and help to our staff as needed.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your USDA

Excellent interview with USDA/AMS Administrator, Elanor Starmer.

 

She shares the success to date and paints a picture of invigoration that includes Know Your Farmer Know your Food, Farm To School, Urban Agriculture and a wide spectrum of programs and citizen initiatives that is reaching millions.

 

 

 

 

Who has the most dangerous job in the US?

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