Letting Data Lead the Way: Addressing Food and Internet Access in Syracuse

Even a few months into lockdown, we are still figuring out new ways to live, learn, work, and play. In every major facet of society, we are watching as the systems that once kept us going are breaking down. One particular area of focus has been on public education as schools close their doors and scramble to move classes online. The headlines highlight students and teachers struggling to adapt to this new mode of learning, and parents struggling to manage their kids, work, and household responsibilities simultaneously. Some school districts are choosing to shut down for the year, unable to make the transition to remote learning; some parents have flat out given up on homeschooling, unable to deal with the demands of work and their kids’ classes. Follow this link to read more.

Sourced from: Data-Smart City Solutions

Gardening in the Age of COVID

Franklin County Master Gardners In Columbus, Franklin County Master Gardener Volunteers are addressing food insecurity in neighborhoods throughout the city which are considered food deserts. Franklin MGVs have received exemptions to re-start four food production projects throughout the city and at Waterman Farm on The Ohio State University campus to address the increased level of food insecurity brought on by the pandemic. Franklin MGVs maintain 72 ongoing projects throughout the community. During the 2019 growing season they produced and donated 21,425 pounds of vegetables, fruit, and herbs to dozens of neighborhood food pantries in Columbus. Franklin County MGVs help maintain community gardens, urban farms, and two public fruit parks throughout the city. During 2019, 235 MGVs in Franklin County donated 16,811 volunteer hours in the community. Follow this link to learn more.

Article courtesy of Mike Hogan,  Agricultural and Natural Resources Educator, Franklin County, Ohio.

Integrating a Food Systems Lens into Discussion of Urban Resilience

The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development recently published the article “Integrating a food systems lens into discussions of urban resilience: Analyzing the policy environment.” The article weaves the complexity of urban issues on sustainability and resilience with a food systems thread. One quote from the article says, “Food systems thinking holds tremendous integrative potential to address myriad, complex, and thorny issues at once, and can no longer be relegated to an afterthought.”

Sourced from: The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development

Structural Racism in America

Racial and ethnic inequalities loom large in American society. People of color face structural barriers when it comes to securing quality housing, healthcare, employment, and education. Racial disparities also permeate the criminal justice system in the United States and undermine its effectiveness. At the Urban Institute, they examine how historical and ongoing public policies, institutional practices, and cultural narratives perpetuate racial inequalities and constrain mobility for communities of color. For decades, their researchers have called attention to the role of race and racism in our public and private institutions and offered evidence-based solutions for how to address these inequities. Scholars will continue to play a crucial role as we work to elevate the public discourse around race and inequality in America. Follow this link to learn more.

Sourced from: Urban Institute

A Lifeline for Older Adults in Columbus, Ohio

With a population nearing 900,000, Columbus, Ohio, is the largest municipality in the state and 14th largest in the United States. It is Ohio’s state capital as well as home to The Ohio State University and headquarters for five Fortune 500 companies. Combined with the rest of Franklin County, the area is home to about 1.3 million residents, 12 percent of who are age 65 or older. Columbus joined the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities  in 2015. Franklin County followed in 2018. The region’s age-friendly initiative is called Age-Friendly Columbus and Franklin County.

The Challenge

“When COVID hit the front pages of Central Ohio newspapers, we anticipated older adults would have limited access to resources, resulting in increased social isolation and food insecurity,” says Katie White, Director, Age-Friendly Columbus and Franklin County. “We also immediately saw that need spanned the entire county, not just Columbus.”

The Response

The age-friendly group sprang into action, contacting community partners that have a continual pulse on needs, challenges, and opportunities throughout the region. Students, staff, and faculty volunteers from The Ohio State University College of Social Work speak by phone with older adults in the community, providing an opportunity for older people to socialize and get questions answered without the fear of contracting COVID. Follow this link to read more.

Sourced from: Cities Speak

Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis: Policies to Build Food Security

Join Sarah Rosen Wartell, president of the Urban Institute, for the next installment in Urban’s conversation series, Evidence to Action. During this virtual event, Elaine Waxman, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, and Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, chief executive officer of Feeding America, will join Sarah to discuss food insecurity during the pandemic and what policymakers and practitioners can do to ensure everyone has access to sufficient food both now and as we begin recovering from the crisis. The webinar will take place Friday, May 29, 2020 at 2 p.m. EST. Follow this link to learn more.

Sourced from: Urban Institute

USDA Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Announces Grants

The 2018 Farm Bill required the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish an Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. In authorizing the Office, Congress recognized that farmers in urban communities may not fully take advantage of USDA’s resources and may need extra focus. USDA recently created this office within the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the office has been busy implementing the farm bill’s urban agriculture provisions.

The office has a number of responsibilities and will administer two grant programs. The first, the Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Competitive Grant Program, is currently open for applications. This program will fund both planning and implementation grants for tribal governments, local governments, nonprofits, and schools to support and increase urban agricultural producers. The second grant program, the Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction Project Cooperative Agreements, is accepting applications from local governments, including conservation districts, for projects specifically focused on compost and related urban conservation. Follow this link to learn more.

Sourced from: National Association of Conservation Districts

Listening Session for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) RFA Development Program

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently posted a notice that they are taking stakeholder input to help inform and set priorities for $40 million of grant funding for research, education, and Extension around urban agriculture, indoor agriculture, and emerging agriculture. To respond to NIFA with aggregated and organized comments, the Western Center for Metropolitan Extension and Research (WCMER), National Urban Extension Leaders (NUEL), and a number of local Farm Bureau chapters located in urban counties from across the country are partnering to host four online, interactive stakeholder listening sessions (see below for details and registration).

Listening Sessions: WCMER member institution Michigan State University’s National Charrette Institute has designed and will provide facilitation for the online listening sessions.  The dates/times and registration links for the listening sessions are:

  1. Thursday, May 28 from 2-4 pm EST, 1-3 pm CST, 12-2 pm MST, 11 am-1pm PST
    Registration Link: https://msu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0lfu6hrD8uHtYzm0UxDYIC3v6Dg0yUjHgW
  2. Thursday, May 28 from 7-9 pm EST, 6-8 pm CST, 5-7 pm MST, 4-6 pm PST
    Registration Link: https://msu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUldOqrqjgrHtUuyo1zmS1KAiwyvUQFk7NF
  3. Friday, May 29 from 10 am-12 pm EST, 9-11 am CST, 8-10 am MST, 7- 9 am PST
    Registration Link: https://msu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIocuqurD8vH9JRiHkDDl1kL1tepfCtEWXp
  4. Friday, May 29 from 2-4 pm EST, 1-3 pm CST, 12 pm-2 pm MST, 11 am-1 pm PST
    Registration Link: https://msu.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMuf-6pqTkjHtTGkaXRLY9GR17nocRrh_bT

Follow this link to learn more.

Sourced from: The Western Center for Metropolitan Extension and Research