County Office Building Provides Vegetables to Those in Need

Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvests Garden Planters; Educates Public

Vegetables that have been growing for months in planters at the Oneida County Office Building are now being harvested and provided to those who need them most.

This past spring, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County planted various vegetables including corn, tomatoes, pole beans, peas, squash and collard greens in three of the County Office Building’s outside planters.

Harvesting of those vegetables began at the beginning of September, and the bounty has been made available to county Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients throughout the month in the lobby of the County Office Building free of charge.

“I am glad to see that the planters that normally beautify our County Office Building with flowers have instead been used to provide nutritious vegetables to residents who might otherwise not have access to them,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “Improving access to such foods and increasing the awareness of their benefits are crucial elements to promoting healthy eating habits.”

In addition to distributing the vegetables, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County staff members have been providing education on garden planting and harvesting to those visiting the County Office Building during the sessions, and have also offered food tastings.

So far, more than six pounds of vegetables have been harvested. Workers from the Oneida County Summer Youth Employment Program tended to the gardens over the summer.

The initiative is part of the Eat Smart New York Program which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County’s ESNY staff has been utilizing the program to improve the likelihood that those eligible for SNAP will make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guideline for Americans and USDA food guidance.

“Community gardens support healthy behaviors in our neighborhoods,” said Carol Watkins, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County’s Administrative Manager for ESNY. “Gardens are a great way to be active and increase access to healthy foods. Providing a demonstration garden at the County Office Building has allowed staff to reach our audience and provide hands-on nutrition education on the importance of consuming fruits and vegetables to maintain health and prevent or delay the onset of diet-related chronic diseases."

The remaining harvesting and education sessions at the County Office Building are scheduled for the following dates and times:

  • Sept. 21 from 1 to 2 p.m.
  • Sept. 25 from 10 to 11 a.m.
  • Sept. 27 from 10 to 11 a.m.
  • Sept. 29 from 10 to 11 a.m.