Food

CT Farm to School Collaborative Welcomes Nyree Hodges

Nyree HodgesWe are thrilled to introduce Nyree Hodges, our new Project Coordinator of the CT Farm To School Collaborative. She will be our point person for all future steps on the CT Farm to School Action Plan.  Here’s a little bit about Nyree:
Nyree brings several years of experience as a non-formal educator/teacher in environmental education, nutrition, and service learning. Nyree has worked with a variety of community-based organizations in New Haven and Bridgeport, including buildOn, Green Village Initiative, FoodCorps, Healthy CT Alliance, and Common Ground. She finds it essential to be informed and in solidarity with every person in our community, to acknowledge and sustain diversity, anti-racism, and inclusivity. Nyree has a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences- Community Health Education. She is committed to active listening and implementing the hard work put into the FTS Action Plan from her predecessor(s). 
Please welcome Nyree! 

Ask UConn Extension Your Questions

Indu
Indu Upadhyaya, Food Safety Assistant Extension Educator. Photo: Kevin Noonan

UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. We are proud to serve all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut. The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. Our services continue during this challenging time.

We are still delivering the science-based information you need. We are ready to answer your questions. Consult with us by email or on the phone. All of our educators are working and ready to serve you. Ask us a question online.

We are developing virtual programs to offset canceled in-person learning Abby Beissingeropportunities. Our educators are writing and updating fact sheets and other information. You have access to educational materials on our YouTube channel. We are growing our suite of online resources every day to meet the needs of our communities and stakeholders.

UConn CAHNR Extension educators have curated resources related to COVID-19 for our statewide audiences, including families, businesses, and agricultural producers.

Resources for all audiences includes:

  • Food safety and cooking
  • Hand washing and sanitizers
  • Infection prevention
  • Financial advice
  • Listings of open farms/farmers’ markets and school emergency meal distribution

Parents and families with children out of school can use the resources from our UConn 4-H program to provide new educational activities for youth. Activities available will keep youth engaged and learning and are appropriate for a variety of age groups.

Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy
Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy.

A list of resources has been collected for Connecticut businesses. It is a clearinghouse of resources, and not an official site. Business owners can connect to the state resources we provide for official and legal advice.

Agricultural producers are still working on farms, in greenhouses and along the coast in Long Island Sound during the COVID-19 outbreak. Extension educators have developed resources for specific agricultural sectors, including fruit and vegetable farms, aquaculture, and nursery and landscape professionals. Links to important updates from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture also are available.

Our Extension educators are updating and adding resources regularly. Please visit http://bit.ly/COVID-19-Extension.

We are also ready to answer your other questions, including:

  • How do I get my water tested?
  • What is wrong with my plant?
  • Can I eat healthy on a budget?
  • How does my son/daughter join 4-H?

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

We are here. We are ready to serve you.

 

Recipe: Peanut Butter Power Balls

peanut butter power balls

A snack you can make with your children.
(Un bocadillo que puedes hacer con tus hijos.)
Stay home and enjoy
(a quedarse en casa y a disfrutar)

Peanut Butter Power Balls
Ingredients

1- Cup oatmeal
1- Cup peanut butter (any nut butter)
½- cup honey
½- cup nonfat dry milk (optional)
½- cup raisins
½- cup wheat germ or any cereals crush up
1 tsp. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients except wheat germ.
Shape in to one-inch balls and roll in wheat germ or cereal. Yield: 36 balls

Ingredientes

1 taza avena
1 taza mantequilla de maní (cualquier otra nuez)
½ taza miel abeja
½ taza leche en polvo (opcional)
½ taza pasas
½ taza germen de trigo
1 cucharadita de canela

Combine todos los ingredientes excepto germen de trigo. Forme bolitas de una pulgada y enróllelas en el germen de trigo o cereal Rinde: 36 bolitas

Recipe courtesy of Angela Caldera, UConn Extension EFNEP

Maple Syrup Time in Connecticut

The sap is running and sugar houses are boiling. The maple syrup industry is alive and well when the weather cooperates, providing warm days and cold nights to signal the sugar maple trees to make sap. Maple syrup makers will have to collect 40 gallons of sap to boil down to make one gallon of syrup. March is filled with opportunities to visit sugar houses and festivals around the state.

 

For information about Connecticut Maple Syrup events follow the link below.

https://www.ctvisit.com/articles/maple-sugaring-connecticut?inf_contact_key=b3ed6f4a71d5c3886b582dba04ca631b

Some may be offering delivery or other options for products during current closures.

Food Safety and COVID-19

raised bed in foodshare garden

March 26, 2020 Update

The following information has been compiled for the general public and for those who come under essential businesses in Connecticut.

FDA resources:

  • FDA has recently stated that food supply is safe among COVID-19 and there are no current disruptions in the supply chain. Consumers should be confident in the safety of their food. To read more about coronavirus impacting the food industry please visit FDA leaders_food supply is safe.
  • If you have questions such as
      1. How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances?
      2. A worker in my food production/processing facility/farm has tested positive for COVID-19. What do I need to do to continue operations while protecting my other employees? 

or other concerns regarding Food safety and COVID-19, please visit FDA Latest FAQs

Consumer resources:

  • As a consumer if you have questions such as
      1. Should I mist produce with a very diluted bleach solution (a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water) and let it air dry before I eat it to avoid contracting COVID-1?
      2. Does cooking foods kill the virus that causes COVID-19? (Short answer- YES) 

Please visit Consumer_FAQs

Since, it is believed that cooking can kill viruses, it is recommended that the high-risk population (especially under current circumstances) such as immunocompromised hosts and seniors, avoid the consumption of RAW produce.

Other food safety resources:

  • For questions that food industry in other states (NY and neighboring) may have such as
      1. How long can COVID-19 remain viable on different surfaces?
      2. Can animals raised for food and animal products be source of infection with COVID-19?

Please visit FAQs_FoodIndustry

For businesses:

  • Under the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan program,a qualifying business or nonprofit organization can apply for a loan of up to $75,000 or three months of operating expenses (whichever is lesser). All of the information can be found at  CT_Recovery Bridge Loan Program
  • The American Farmland Trust’s Farmer Relief Fundwill award farmers with cash grants of up to $1000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially eligible applicants include any small and mid-sized direct-market producers. For complete information go to the ATF website at Farmer Relief Fund.

As always, if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me. At UConn extension, we will try to answer your queries as soon as possible and keep you updated as we know more.

Educator: Indu Upadhyaya, DVM, MVSc, PhD,

Assistant Extension Educator, Food Safety

Virtual Extension Programs

man sitting at an Apple computerConnect with Extension – even during COVID-19 social distancing. We have a variety of virtual Extension programs available for you over the coming weeks:

  • Friday, April 3rd – All DayInstagram stories with Abby Beissinger, our Plant Diagnostician
  • Friday, April 3rd – 10 AM – Jen Nadeau, our Extension Equine Specialist will share horse books for adults to enjoy in a Facebook Live session
  • Monday, April 6th – 8:30 AM – Extending the Grazing Season webinar hosted by Rachel Bespuda for our program, Nutrition’s Role in Sustainable Livestock Production Practices. Pre-registration is requested.
  • Monday, April 6th – 1:3o PM – Webinar with Cary Chadwick, UConn CLEARFrom Maps to Apps: Accessible Tech for Field Scientists and Citizen Scientists Alike 
  • Wednesday, April 8th – 1:3o PM – Webinar with Emily Wilson, UConn CLEARStatewide LIDAR Elevation Points in Interactive, Color 3D! 
  • Wednesday, April 8th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, April 15th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Friday, April 17th – 10 AM – Jen Nadeau, our Extension Equine Specialist will share what you need to know about model horse shows in a Facebook Live session
  • Wednesday, April 22nd – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, April 29th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 6th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 13th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 20th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 27th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family

Check back often. We are adding programs from our Master Gardener program, as well as programs on cooking and nutrition from UConn EFNEP.

Recorded Webinars and Video Lessons Available On-Demand

COVID-19: Nationwide Child Nutrition Waivers

COVID-19: Nationwide Child Nutrition Waivers

student in Norwalk with strawberry in the garden
Photo: Heather Peracchio

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) the authority to issue nationwide waivers to ensure access to meals through the child nutrition programs as communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to issue waivers to increase cost. In order for a state to use a nationwide waiver, the state child nutrition agency must notify their USDA Regional Office that it elects to use the waiver. The guidance directs state agencies to inform local program operators of the flexibilities provided by these waivers as quickly as possible and to work in partnership with schools, local government agencies, private nonprofit organizations, and other entities that operate the child nutrition programs to provide accessible meals to all participants safely.

Prior to implementing any of the following waivers or providing meals through the child nutrition programs, schools and other program operators should receive approval from their state child nutrition agency in order to ensure that the meals served will be reimbursed. All of the waivers listed below are in effect until June 30, 2020.

·       Non-Congregate Feeding: USDA has issued a nationwide waiver to allow meals to be provided outside of a congregate feeding setting. Meals can be distributed at a site where families pick up the meals, as well as be delivered to children’s homes. USDA has provided additional guidance on meal delivery. The state child nutrition agency needs to sign off on the distribution model. In addition, USDA did not issue a separate nationwide waiver to provide multiple meals, but its guidance on Child Nutrition Program Meal Service during COVID-19 Outbreak gives state agencies the authority to approve methods that include meals for multiple days. The waiver applies to all of the federal child nutrition programs: School Breakfast Program (SBP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), and Child Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

·       Meal Service Times: USDA has issued a nationwide waiver to provide flexibility to the meal service time requirements. The waiver applies to all of the federal child nutrition programs: SBP, NSLP, SFSP, and CACFP.

·       Activity Requirement in the Afterschool Nutrition Programs: The waiver eliminates the requirement to provide educational or enrichment activities when providing snacks through NSLP or meals and snacks through CACFP At-Risk Afterschool Program.

States that use one or more of the nationwide waivers must submit a report to USDA that summarizes the use of the waiver(s) and describes the role that the waiver(s) played in improving services to program participants.

These nationwide waivers are an important first step, but there are a number of additional waivers that are needed in order to ensure access to meals during this crisis. These include waiving the area eligibility requirement for SFSP and CACFP and any other eligibility requirements for SBP and NSLP that are necessary to ensure access. In addition, USDA can waive administrative requirements that create barriers to access, such as allowing flexible non-congregate models of meal service; administrative simplifications; suspending onsite monitoring visits and state audits; and reducing record-keeping requirements in CACFP, as well as the other federal child nutrition programs as needed. Until USDA issues these waivers nationwide, state agencies can continue to apply for them as state waivers, and advocates, schools, program operators, and sponsors should encourage their states to apply for them if they have not already.

FRAC will update this document as additional nationwide waivers are issued. For more information on efforts and opportunities to ensure children have access to nutritious meals during COVID-19 school closures, visit FRAC’s website.

Source: Food Research & Action Center

Managing Stress – You and Your Families

stress spelled out with scrabble piecesIn this challenging time, we need to take care of each other and especially ourselves. Self-care is important to our physical and mental health. We all deserve self-care, especially now. Please consider these resources.

The first is a video on managing stress during a pandemic. It was worth the 17 minutes to hear tips on how to care for ourselves and our children. Maybe you are guiding co-workers or elderly parents. We hope this helps:

https://mediasite.video.ufl.edu/Mediasite/Play/bf0a42f96e874778bf47a8517125f1591d

Related Reading Resources: 

English:

How to Cope with Stress https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4894.pdf

Talking to Your Children https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/pep20-01-01-006_508_0.pdf

Español:

Cómo lidiar con el estrés https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4885spanish.pdf

Cómo hablar con los niños https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4886spanish.pdf

Other Mental Health Resources:

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has a list of five things you should know about stress and you can find that valuable information here:https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml.

Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line have trained counselors who are ready to listen.  If you would like to talk to someone related to COVID-19, call the National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255, or text the word SHARE to 741741.  Website links can be found here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org | https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Please take care of yourselves and remember that we are here to help.

Sincerely,

The Connecticut Sea Grant staff

Food Safety Resources for Farmers

farmers market groupAs we understand more about the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 worldwide, we are constantly updating information and resources to help guide the fruit and vegetable farming community in Connecticut. Please use this resource document with links to information relevant to CT farmers.

It can be easier to adapt to a constantly changing scenario if there are studies or examples to follow. Some farmers markets have changed the way they do business to implement some of the best food safety practices. Here is information from what some farmers’ markets and CSAs are doing. The following was adapted from information compiled by Chris Callahan, UVM.

  • Carrborro, NC Farmer’s Market Case Study – NC State Extension has posted a summary of what the Carrboro Farmers’ Market has done. Briefly, this included communication with market customers, physical distancing by rearranging the market layout, rounding prices for limited use of coins, running a “tab” for customers to minimize cash transactions, no samples, no tablecloths to ease sanitation, and the addition of a hand washing station among other things.
  • Minimize the Number of Touches (CSA) – One CSA has decided to change how they distribute to an urban market.  They have previously trucked larger bins of produce to a distribution site where customers would select their own produce to fill their share. They have decided to pack the shares to order at the farm prior to distribution to minimize the number of people touching the produce. Another alternative would be packing shares to order at the market.
  • Minimize the Number of Touches (Farmers’ Market) – The Bennington Farmers’ Market in Vermont has shifted to online ordering and pre-bagged orders from each farm that are combined into larger collective orders delivered to each customer via a drive-up system. The biggest decision was deciding that they’d actually continue to have the market. The new approach required the addition of an on-line ordering system (Google Forms for now), coordination among farms and some serious organization at the market. Orders are organized alphabetically; pickups are scheduled with a quarter of the alphabet every 30 minutes. People won’t get out of their cars.
  • What are some other farms doing? Some farms have written and implemented specific response plans or taken other measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. For example, Two Farmers Farm in Scarborough, Maine have developed a detailed, yet flexible farm plan available online.


If you would like to share what your operation is doing to ensure food safety and have suggestions for the community to combat COVID-19, please feel free to email me at indu.upadhyaya@uconn.edu.

Meanwhile, stay healthy and safe and we will keep you updated with the latest information as we learn more.

By Indu Upadhyaya, DVM, MVSc, PhD

Assistant Extension Educator, Food Safety, UConn Extension

Food Safety with COVID-19

As we are closely monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic in our community, we at UConn Extension are trying our best to bring you the most updated information from across the country for safe production at your farm operations.
Here are some links to info-sheets related to coronavirus for Farmers Markets, Food Banks, U-Pick Farms, Grocery Stores and Food Services.
General FAQ:
Grocery Stores:
Food Bank:
Use of Gloves:Although gloves could reduce virus spread, they need to be worn with caution, since they can be misused i.e. contamination can happen if gloves touch dirty surfaces and then the food. Also, if food workers are sick and wipe their nose with their hands, or cough on hands (with or without gloves) and touch the food, it is no better than not wearing gloves. If you have been properly trained to use disposable gloves, make sure to wash your hands before wearing them and after removing them.
Hope this information is helpful, we will update this on our UConn food safety website as well. Meanwhile, for best practices for food safety at home please read this article UConn_basic food safety practices.
Article: Indu Upadhyaya, DVM, MVSc, PhD,

Assistant Extension Educator – Food Safety

UConn Extension