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Plentiful Partnership of Niagara addresses issue of food insecurity

LOCKPORT – Niagara County has a food insecurity rate of 17.2 percent – higher than the state or national average. That means that more than 17 percent of the county’s population does not have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Farmers, food pantry managers, volunteers and those simply interested in alleviating hunger and reducing food waste are invited to attend the second annual Plentiful Partnership of Niagara workshop from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

The farm-to-table dinner and panel discussion are sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Niagara County and will be held at the 4-H Training Center, 4487 Lake Ave., Lockport.

Gleaned and preserved foods from the 2014 season, such as carrots and beets, will be served, along with other local items, by the Catering Crew.

The workshop will feature a panel discussion on the results of the 2014 gleaning, as well as goals for the upcoming season.

“In 2015, Cornell Cooperative Extension Niagara County and Plentiful Partnership of Niagara aim to increase access to fresh foods in Niagara County by collecting and delivering local produce that would otherwise go to waste,” said Cathy Lovejoy Maloney, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Niagara County.

“To continue this effort, we will be introducing a formal training for ‘Glean Team’ volunteers and also increasing nutrition education at local food pantries.”

Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play, a Cooperative Extension program supported by a state Department of Health grant, formed the foundation for the Plentiful Partnership of Niagara. The partnership is a collaborative effort among the Cooperative Extension, the Food Bank of Western New York, Niagara Community Action Program, Western New York farmers and local food pantries to address food insecurity and waste.

Through this project, a total of 36 volunteers helped collect more than 29,000 pounds from fields and markets, or 590 bushels of produce for those in need in Niagara County in just six months last year.

The opportunity to glean, or gather unwanted produce from farmers’ fields and farmers markets, is an excellent way to help reduce food insecurity while eliminating food waste. The partnership relies on the generous support of Western New York farmers and partnership volunteers, better known as the “Glean Team.”

The event’s panel discussion will feature a local farmer, food pantry manager, volunteer, and representatives from both the Food Bank and the Niagara Community Action Program.

To reserve a spot, contact Jennifer Grier at 433-8839, Ext. 222 or at JRG346@Cornell.edu by Monday.