Community still considering solutions to food insecurity in Enfield
ENFIELD, NY –Food insecurity is a problem with particularly significant impacts in rural areas, including Tompkins County, which exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue the discussion around a fate that is affecting many residents of Tompkins County, the third installment of the community conversation forum series, which took place on April 26, invited panelists to discuss food safety changes. in the county.
The panelists featured in the conversation were Monika Roth, retired from a 40-year job as an agriculture industry leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension; Jean Owens, who heads the Enfield pantry; and Debbie Teeter, local farmer and member of Enfield Community Council. The discussion was moderated by Enfield supervisor, Stephanie Redmond.
Redmond urged panelists to discuss the services and opportunities available at Enfield to help support food security. Owens said Enfield’s food distribution helps 400 to 500 families a week and the quality of the food it serves has increased dramatically with help from Feed New York, a group that redirects surplus agricultural products to help those in need. The food bank also provides items such as fresh produce and dairy products from local farmers.
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Shoppers can visit the food bank once a week, Sunday or Monday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and some items, regardless of income, can be picked up. Later in the discussion, Owens said volunteers are always welcome and appreciated because distributing food takes a lot of work.
“The improved health of our buyers is reflected in what we are able to source,” said Owens. “When a shopper comes looking for food for their family, they really go through all of our food groups, so they can actually get the food they need. (…) If they don’t get anything else for the week, they are food secure and the fact that they can get everything they need for their families for the week from here.
The conversation also focused on the importance of farmers’ markets and how they could benefit Enfield. Roth said that in small communities, markets give small farmers the chance to thrive. She spoke of her experience starting the Farmer’s Market in Groton, New York, where farmers could set up free near the Groton Nursing Home – an integrated audience, she said, although it did attracted more than those who live at home.
“Finding a farmer who is not already fully engaged every day of the week is difficult, but that being said, I mean we always find new small farmers who need a place to settle down and sell.” Roth said. “The first thing I would say is, ‘Bring the people together.’ It will be the commitment of people in your community to show up every week and make it happen. “
Community member Kathleen Pasetty, member of the Enfield Food Bank, joined in the conversation when Redmond opened it to the 13 attendees. Pasetty said the idea of a farmers’ market in Enfield would be beneficial and asked panelists about the feasibility of this.
Teeter said this because the Enfield Community Council purchased Living Water Church will become Enfield’s community center, she believes the space and parking would allow the market to grow. She said her only concern would be its visibility.
“We would definitely want him to be successful no matter where he is,” Teeter said. “We are not opposed to it. I will speak to this at the next meeting. “