Food Access & Active Living
What we eat and what we do to be physically active are hugely important to our health. But these are not just individual choices. Income inequities mean that many families have difficulty gaining access to the full range of the Monadnock region’s healthy, locally-produced food options. Expanded access to healthy food benefits individuals, it supports local food producers and food systems, and it strengthens entire communities. At the same time, not all communities across our region offer the same access to environments and resources that support physical activity and overall physical health. Community-level changes can make it easier for everyone to be healthier, and together, the Monadnock Food Access Alliance and Monadnock Outdoors are doing just that!
Expand local food access to include low- and moderate-income families
Encourage support of local food system.
Educate consumers on the benefits of locally produced food.
Promote active living through physical activity, active transportation, and recreation.
Our Current Projects
Right This Way
Right This Way is a 10 week, team-based, holistic wellness challenge that is offered to organizations participating in Wellpowered Worksites (a program offered through Cheshire Medical Center). Right This Way uses science backed behavior change techniques to form wellness habits that produce lasting results, and unlike other “canned” wellness programs, Right This Way is specifically developed based off of participant feedback, giving each individual the unique opportunity to help develop a program that feels both authentic and effective. Throughout the summer, local organizations compete against one another to see who will claim the top spot on the Right This Way leaderboard- and have a little fun along the way! Participants earn points and improve their health by completing the 6 Right This Way wellness habits each day. Participants also receive fun weekly mini-challenges and giveaways to help keep them motivated throughout the 10 week challenge!
Harvest of the Month
Harvest of the Month (HOM) is a farm-to-school campaign that provides ready-to-use materials for the classroom, cafeteria, and community designed to promote the use of local, seasonal foods. This program is specifically tailored for teachers, food service professionals, school nurses, parents, farmers, after-school coordinators, and community members. HOM provides the opportunity for presenters to collaborate with students, parents, and retail outlets—all of whom are striving to promote healthy food choices.
Veterans Appreciation thanks veterans living in the Monadnock Region for their service by providing them with vouchers to purchase local food directly from the growers at local Farmers Markets during the month of September, which is Hunger Awareness Month. Veterans are disproportionately impacted by food insecurity, and this program allows us to make connections between Veterans and local food sources. The program was modeled after Vouchers for Veterans which launched in 2016 at the Rochester, NH Farmers Market. In the Monadnock Region, we started our Veterans Appreciation in Hinsdale at their Farmers Market in 2018. In 2019, we expanded to serve veterans at both the Hinsdale and Keene Farmers Markets. And most recently in 2021, we served veterans at three regional famers markets: Hinsdale, Keene, and Jaffrey.
Run and Read
Created in 2014, the Run and Read project provides age-appropriate books for children and families across the Monadnock region. Through the partnership of the Keene Elm City Rotary Club and the Advocates for Healthy Youth (AFHY) coalition, Run and Read has donated more than 2,000 books to local community sites. Building on the popular Kids DeMar marathon program, Run and Read combines activity and literacy by connecting reading to fitness. This addresses major concerns in public health today such as childhood obesity, excessive passive screen time, and sub-optimal reading proficiency. In 2020, AFHY was able to secure additional funding that will allow the Pediatrics Department at Cheshire Medical Center to distribute 800 additional books directly to children ages 6-11 years old during their well-visits.
Granite State Market Match
Granite State Market Match is a program developed to help the 106,000 New Hampshire residents who receive SNAP benefits to purchase healthy and locally-grown produce every time they visit the farmers’ market. This is accomplished by doubling their SNAP/EBT benefits for fruits and vegetables at participating farmers’ markets- helping families eat healthily while supporting our local farmers. The New Hampshire Nutrition Incentive Network is comprised of six regional non-profits and farmers market organizations that have united to make healthy food accessible to SNAP customers throughout the state. Led by the New Hampshire Food Bank, with support from Wholesome Wave, the NH Nutrition Incentive Network now offers SNAP and Granite State Market Match at more than 50 locations.
9-5-2-1-0 supports the 5-2-1-0 Healthy NH program, a statewide public education campaign to bring awareness to daily recommendations for nutrition and physical activity. Its message is simple and clear and represents some of the most important steps families can take to prevent childhood obesity. 9 hours of sleep! It is recommended we sleep 7-9 hours per night to optimize our well-being. 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. 2 hours or less of screen time per day. This includes TV, computers and video games. 1 hour of physical activity per day. 0 sugar-sweetened drinks.
Food and Gardens
In response to supply chain issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, a work group of the Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition launched, Food & Gardens for a Resilient Monadnock , a website providing gardening education and resources, information on programs making local food more affordable, as well as where to find free meals. The work group – the Monadnock Food Access Alliance – meets monthly to help build the coalition’s mission to build a sustainable, robust and equitable local food system that is easily accessible to all community members. The desire to launch this new online resource was also sparked by surveys among households experiencing food insecurity during the implementation of the Monadnock Food Access Analysis and 2022-2023 Food Access Plan; an initiative led by the Alliance. Feedback received underscored the urgent need for individuals and families to have more power over where and how they access food.
Farm to School
Cornucopia Project and Stonewall Farm have teamed up to form a new regional branch of the NH Farm to School Network here in the Monadnock Region. The Monadnock Farm to School Network is a community resource for all schools and educators who are pursuing farm to school activities in the Monadnock Region. “Nuts & Bolts of Farm to School: Gardening, Cooking, and Farm Field Trips” was the first free module offered last Fall for teachers, parents, and school administrators; a new forum will take place in June 2022. The forums are coordinated by the Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition. Join the movement to bring farm fresh food into classrooms, cafeterias, and communities! Join the Monadnock Farm to School Network by joining the private Facebook group.
Complete Streets are pedestrian, transit, and bicycle – friendly streets that provide safe and easy access for users of all ages and abilities, regardless of their mode of transportation. It is an approach to planning, design, construction, and maintenance of the roadway network that considers the context and travel patterns in order to meet the needs of everyone. Complete Streets will look different depending on the context (i.e. surrounding land use) and the function of the road. For example, a rural arterial road will look different from an urban arterial road. In the former case, a larger shoulder that provides room for pedestrians and bicyclists may be sufficient, whereas the urban case would likely require more considerations. Some common elements of complete streets include sidewalks, bike lanes, wide paved shoulders, median islands, curb extensions, and roundabouts. Often streets will have narrower travel lanes, frequent and safe crossing opportunities, pedestrian signals, and accessible transit stops.
Complete Streets are a great way for a community to enhance safety, boost the local economy, create a sense of place, and encourage healthier lifestyles. By encouraging mode switching for shorter trips, Complete Streets also help ease traffic congestion on main roads. According to the National Complete Streets Coalition, the many benefits of complete streets include:
- Improved Safety
- Better Health
- Stronger Local Economy
- More Livable Communities
- Increase in Mode Choice
- Decrease in Traffic Congestion
- Greater Sense of Place
- Lower Emissions and Cleaner Air
With the support of grant funds from You Have Our Trust, the Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation (MAST) with technical assistance from Southwest Region Planning Commission (SWRPC) has supported nine communities in the Monadnock Region to adopt Complete Streets policies. Those communities are: Harrisville, Hinsdale, Jaffrey, Keene, Peterborough, Swanzey, Troy, Walpole, Winchester.
- Harrisville – re-adopted 2020
- Hinsdale – adopted 2016
- Jaffrey – adopted 2017
- Keene – adopted 2015
- Peterborough – adopted 2017
- Swanzey – adopted 2015
- Troy – adopted 2016
- Walpole – adopted 2017
- Winchester – adopted 2017
Two additional towns are in the process of hopefully adopting a Complete Streets policy soon:
- Greenville – under consideration 2023, not adopted
- Marlborough – under consideration 2023, not adopted