News

2021 Monadnock Region Food Access Report

A Comprehensive Gaps and Asset Analysis in Children’s and Families’ Food Security Programs in the Monadnock Region

The Monadnock Region Food Access Analysis (MRFAA) was conducted by Southwest Region Planning Commission during the spring of 2021 on behalf of the Monadnock Children’s Food Access Alliance (MCFAA), led by the Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition (MFCC).

Several findings include:
– Childhood food insecurity rates in Cheshire and Sullivan counties are higher than the state average
– Lower-income food insecure people who are not eligible for SNAP have difficulty buying food
– Lack of transportation, specifically, lack of a car, is the number two risk factor for food insecurity. The towns of Keene, Peterborough, Alstead, Sullivan, and Swanzey have the highest percentages of households without vehicles

“We knew prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that food security and access programs in our region were underused,” says Roe-Ann Tasoulas, MCFAA coordinator. “The pandemic accelerated the need for a gap and asset analysis of all food access programs, and to connect directly with individuals and families experiencing food insecurity to better increase opportunities to access affordable, healthy food and participation in programs.”

View Report

The MCFAA is a diverse network of partners committed to improving the overall health of children and families in the Monadnock Region through increasing access to affordable, healthy food. Partners include: farm service organizations, extension educators, food pantry managers, public health representatives, food policy experts, and educators.

The County of Cheshire worked with the MCFAA to submit a grant proposal to the NH Children’s Health Foundation to implement a food access analysis in Fall 2020. The grant was awarded and the SW Region Planning Commission was chosen to implement the analysis. The MRFAA is the resulting report.

Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to identify and analyze the prevalence of household food insecurity. Over 196 participants were interviewed or surveyed to gather relevant data. Food access points, programs, and services, and the connection between them were mapped, and food system models and best practices were included in the report.

“The food access analysis revealed that poverty is far and away the number one predictor of food insecurity for children and families” states Terry Johnson, Southwest Region Planning Commission. “Prior to the pandemic, 40% of food insecure children living in poverty in Cheshire County didn’t qualify for federal food assistance because they didn’t meet the eligibility requirements.”

The MCFAA will use report findings to develop a 2022-2023 Food Access Plan that addresses key findings and identified gaps in programs and services. “With both poverty and food insecurity rates increasing during the pandemic, creative solutions are needed more than ever,” continues Johnson.

To receive a copy of the MRFAA report, download it here or email coordinator@mfccoalition.org.

The public is invited to attend “2021 Monadnock Region Food Access Report Virtual Community Forum” on Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 5:30pm – 7:30pm. Participants will become familiar with the key findings from the MRFAA report, hear feedback from individuals experiencing food insecurity, and provide input on projects that best address gaps for 2022-2023 implementation. 

Register today!

To register by phone, call (603)852-3198. Following the forum, a recording of the keynote speaker will be uploaded to: http://mfcommunitycoalition.org.

Funding for the MRFAA report was provided by the New Hampshire Children’s Health Foundation.

Honoring our Veterans at Farmer’s Markets in Jaffrey, Keene, and Hinsdale every weekend in September

Cheshire County Veterans are honored throughout the year in various ways. Still, in September, thanks to a collaboration with the Cheshire County Conservation District and Cheshire Medical Center’s Center for Population Health, veterans will receive $20 vouchers to spend on food at each of the various Farmer Markets’.

Participating Farmers’ Markets include:

  • TEAM Jaffrey Farmer’ Market on Fridays 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm
  • Keene Farmers’ Market on Saturdays 9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • Hinsdale Farmers’ Market on Sundays from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

This is a small community gesture to say “Thank You.” Veterans can return each week during September for a $20 voucher and participate at all three market locations. Veteran status and proof of Cheshire county residency are required.

For more information about Veteran Appreciation Month, contact Benee Hershon at the Cheshire County Conservation District at benee@cheshireconservation.org or leave a voice message at 603-756-298 ext. 3011.

Support NOFA-NH Farm Share Program at Our Co-op

The Monadnock Food Co-op will launch a month-long Round It Up Donation Drive to benefit the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire (NOFA-NH) Farm Share Program on September 1, 2021. The Co-op’s Round It Up program empowers shoppers to make positive changes in their community by donating their change to local community organizations.

The NOFA-NH’s Farm Share Program provides limited-income New Hampshire residents with discounted Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, also known as farm shares. The program benefits children, families, and seniors by connecting low-income individuals with certified organic farms to provide a season’s worth of local farm fresh products at a reduced cost.

Since 2017, the Farm Share Program has partnered with 13 certified organic farmers to provide over 370 low-income NH residents with 117 subsidized farm shares. Participating farms in the Monadnock Region include Abenaki Spring Farm in Walpole, Picadilly Farm in Winchester, and Stonewall Farm in Keene.

“NOFA-NH believes that everyone has a right to nutritious, healthy food,” said Karl Johnson, NOFA-NH Board President. “We’re proud to support New Hampshire organic farmers by making high-quality local food accessible to community members in need. Funds raised by the Monadnock Food Co-op are critical to ensuring that children, families, seniors, and other low-income individuals across the state can receive a season’s worth of farm-fresh, organic produce through NOFA-NH’s Farm Share Program.”

About NOFA-NH

NOFA-NH is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to building a community of farmers, gardeners, homesteaders, land care professionals, educators, environmentalists, food activists, and educated consumers to help support New Hampshire’s local organic farming community. NOFA-NH actively promotes regenerative, ecologically sound gardening, farming & land care practices for healthy communities by helping people build local, sustainable, healthy food systems: nofanh.org.

August is NH Eats Local Month

Supporting and eating local is a 365, 24/7 celebration in the Granite State. But we pull out the stops in August to celebrate NH Eats Local Month! Join us for 31 days of rallying around the bounty of New Hampshire and to thank our hard working farmers, fishers, and food businesses.

Over 100 partners throughout the state join together to celebrate the power of food in bringing us together and encouraging the continued choice to eat and support local food. Join in for events, contests, film screenings, storytelling, and more.

LEARN MORE ABOUT 2021 NH EATS LOCAL MONTH!