Envisaging food stamps office as a site for outreach

This week, our outreach was slightly different, our internship thought that we should shift a little bit our placements at the farmers markets to go to food stamps office. He thought that going to food stamps office was a very effective way to spread the word out about SNAP and gardening. In fact, going there was a very good idea for this way it was a more direct way to get in touch with our primary target population: people using food stamps. There we were able to inform to people that they could use their EBT benefits to by edible plants and seeds. We handed out flyers to those who were receptive about the message. We also stayed in this office for observation purposes just as way to see what kind of ads/posters they had on the wall also to check out what kind of things/message they showed on TV whether it was health/gardening/food stamps related.

We also spoke to the directors of the different offices to find out about what to do to put SNAP gardens posters in the office. After this experience this week, My internship partner and I agreed upon that we should go to all food stamps office in all boroughs to communicate the message for it is much more direct , faster and effective way to deliver the message.

Challenges what to do?

This week, more precisely yesterday, we did tabling at a very new Farmers market located in the Bronx in front of Bronx Community College. During outreach at this site have proven to be a bit more complicated and less effective I must say. Since it is a very new one (unlike the one on Union Square that have been there over 20 years) this farmers market is relatively small and what is unfortunate is that they do not have plants vendors yet. It is still early in the season, so the director thinks that around end of July, starting August there will definitely be more vendors hence more people coming. So , throughout the day one aspect of our outreach was to make use of a lot of social media broadcast mostly via twitter and facebook  to attract people.

Not having plant vendors was a big issue for us that day since we were unsure how to assess that message would stay with the community. On that day we really had to be persistent with the population we were dealing with. We also had to make sure that they’d left their emails or any contact information. This aspect for outreach was crucial just for reinforcement about what they learned. Though it sounds a bit counterproductive, we did inform a lot of people and have gotten emails from them. My lesson for that day is sometimes doing community outreach can be a bit challenging but one must not give up and should always try to do anything in one’s power to serve the community.

Dealing with different communities on the field

Our goal during this internship is to reach out to any community whether or not they have food stamps regardless of their socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity and education level. The important task is to make sure that we get the message out there. We want to make sure that people all around the country are cognizant that they can use their EBT benefits in a totally holistic way. In fact,they can purchase edible plants and seeds to grow their own garden. By doing so, they can eat in a more healthy way since they are planting their own vegetables, they can also stay physically active by gardening. They are also able to have a sense of community belonging for they can plant with their friends or teach people in their neighborhoods how to plant which, in the end, is good for their mental health. During our outreach luckily, we have posters that translate our message in different language such as Spanish, Haitian creole and so forth. So if someone asks us, if they can read they can also comprehend the message that we are trying to convey.

There are other barriers of course that impede us from delivering the message that we are trying to give. For instance, if the person neither speaks English nor can’t read, how do we go about delivering the message if we don’t have an interpreter on site? This can prove to be a real challenge. We try as hard as possible to reach out to many people but sometimes, if the person cannot read , that can be problematic .We try nevertheless by asking around for help or can also try to inform using images,mimics to demonstrating how to buy edible plants using the food stamps card.

Fieldwork experience

Thus far, my internship at Snap gardens has proven to be really educative. I hope to gain lots of experience from it, although I feel like I am getting so much already. With this internship, I mean being a community outreach is very helpful to me in the sense that it helps me a lot with my communication skills, writing emails to people who asked questions, talking and informing customers in farmers market are all big part of the tasks that Rafael and I do.

I hope to improve on how to better utilize a variety of outreach methods strategies including social media in order to provide information about Snap gardens to populations that have not been served or are underserved. We did develop basic outreach skills, examples are flyers poster, social media announcements mostly twitter, we organize basic outreach events for instance table events.

Like I have said earlier, we are to communicate effectively with the public, on one to one conversations, public speaking to groups or through computer-mediated communication, in order to convey knowledge of the basic information about Snap gardens clearly and in culturally appropriate ways.

I hope to also be able to work together with other community members, workers and professionals to develop collective plans to increase resources in specific communities within the 5 boroughs in NYC.And we also hope to expand broader public awareness of community needs as it is related to community gardens,farmers market or anything having to do with SNAP(Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/Food Stamps)

Interning at SNAP Gardens

As an intern, my project is to do community outreach. As I have mentioned in my previous blog post, SNAP Gardens works to raise awareness that SNAP benefits can be used to buy food-producing plants and seeds, and to help ensure that resources are leveraged to make gardening a practical choice for SNAP participants. So our goal is to make sure that as many people as possible take advantage of this amazing opportunity, especially those who are using EBT benefits/SNAP, for they are indeed our primary target.
However, in order for this information to be effectively delivered we must also conduct outreach on a state and national level. Thus, via phone calls and emails, my internship partner Rafael and I are reaching out to SNAP-Ed staff contacts around the country to make sure that they know that the SNAP-ED guidance for Fiscal Year 2013 has changed, and gotten better for gardening! We also let  them know that the purchase of seeds, plants, and small gardening tools and supplies to assist in developing garden projects are, for the first time, allowable SNAP-Ed costs, as well as educational supplies, curricula, and staff salaries to teach gardening concepts.

We also do tabling at various farmers markets within the five boroughs of New York City. To ensure that the message is being delivered accurately and to keep count of data, we have a sign up list of people who’ve asked questions. Later on, we add that list onto a mailing list as a reminder of what they have been taught about Snap gardens and urge them to forward the message to people they know who have food stamps or who might be interested. We also ask to people who have had successful experience growing plants using their food stamps card to share it with us through blog or through the survey posted on the SNAPGardens’ website,

Ideas are always welcome 🙂

SNAP Gardens

During summer, aside from going to school and working full time, I had envisaged to intern at a place. After applying several places and getting myriad of interviews. I have finally opted for this non- profit organization called SnapGardens. SNAP Gardens is a new non-profit working to raise awareness that SNAP benefits can be used to buy food-producing plants and seeds, and to help ensure that resources are leveraged to make gardening a practical choice for SNAP participants.

I decided to intern at this organization because somehow we share the same interests for some public health aspects such as encouraging others to eat healthy, informing and educating about resources readily available ,empowering communities into adopting healthy habits and also food justice.

If you take a look at my previous blog posts, you won’t help but noticed that my blog posts encompass food justice, healthy eating. Evidently, I do not write about community gardens but I must admit that in order to eat healthy, gardens certainly play a big role. After all, we get all lots of nutritious food from them either at home on the dinner table or either from vendors arriving all over the place to sell in farmer’s market. So if you wish to learn more about this organization and should you wish to help spread the word about gardening, SNAPGardens also provides posters to raise awareness and promote gardening with SNAP benefits.  If you would like to request SNAP Gardens posters, please visit www.SNAPgardens.org/posters.

HOW ORGANIC IS IT?

Organic food is food that has been grown or raised without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, weed killers, or drugs. However, one must not assume that foods labeled “natural,” “sustainable,” “hormone-free,” or “free-range” are necessarily organic products. The use of those labels is not regulated by the U.S. government or any of its controlling agencies. Therefore, any distributor can, “if they please” use the previously mentioned labels, although, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed labeling rules for organic foods.

A seal and the word “organic” can be displayed on organic foods. This seal is not mandatory, so some organic foods may not be labeled as such even though they are organic. But what would be the reasons why people might want to purchase “organic.”

Some say that they are worried about the environment. Some want to avoid chemicals, especially pesticides, in their food. Foods with the organic label have much less pesticide residue compared with most nonorganic foods. Foods grown with pesticides can have small amounts of pesticide left on them by the time they reach the consumers.

Studies have shown that being exposed to large amounts of pesticides can cause harm. But they have not shown that the amounts of pesticides left on most nonorganic foods are enough to cause health effects such as cancer, adverse reproductive outcome, and immunological effects.

Nonetheless, there is not enough evidence to say that organic food is more nutritious than nonorganic food, nor that organic food tastes better, just because it’s organic. But organic food is usually fresher, because it doesn’t contain preservatives and it needs to be eaten sooner.

Fresher food usually tastes better.  (Unless it’s cold pizza)

Here are some other reasons why one might opt for Organic Foods

  • It’s more Humane.

Much of the country’s organic milk and meat comes from small farms, where animals are often given more space to roam than those at larger factory farms.

  • It may reduce your risk of getting Mad Cow

Organic meat can’t have any animal by-products in its feed, which is a primary contributor to mad-cow disease.

  • It’s getting more accessible.

One question still remains: HOW “ORGANIC” IS IT? 

Products labeled “organic” must consist of 95 percent organically produced ingredients, but products that contain only 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase “Made with organic ingredients.”

Again read the labels carefully.