May 2016
A monthly newsletter to keep you informed.

Rural Poverty Simulation described as "moving and educational"
Participant Asia Ambler (L) played the part of a mother seeking assistance for her infant child.  Maggie Reeger (R), an AmeriCorps VISTA member serving with the Food and Health Network, played the part of a community action agency staff member.
On April 28, 2016, Rural Broome Counts hosted its first Rural Poverty Simulation at the Tioughnioga Riverside Academy in Whitney Point, NY. The event, which one participant described as "very moving and educational," packed the school cafeteria, drawing in over 100 people from the surrounding community. Within the simulation, 83 participants assumed the roles of several rural families living on the edge of poverty. Each family profile was based upon real individuals facing poverty.

Participants had the stressful task of adapting to their respective circumstances and providing for basic necessities on a limited budget. Many participants were forced to make difficult decisions. One family reported having to choose between buying food for the week and paying the rent. Some families were evicted from their homes, while several others had their utilities shut off. Other families resorted to selling off their furniture, appliances, and jewelery.

Described by community members as an "eye-opening experience," the simulation was designed to stimulate a deeper understanding and realization of the daily struggles faced by those living on the edge of poverty. The experience was successful in encouraging conversation about individual behavior and actions that can be taken to influence change through advocacy, giving, volunteering, and building relationships. By the end of the evening, participants were able to confront their assumptions, re-evaluate their beliefs, and eventually broaden their perspective about poverty in their own community. 

Lessons Learned at Growing Health: Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Forum
Food and Health Network Logo
The Food & Health Network co-hosted Growing Health: Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities on April 7 with the Broome County Health Department. The half-day forum focused on healthy, local food procurement and strategies for increasing access to healthy food choices at a variety of organizations. More than 75 people were in attendance, representing community organizations, healthcare systems, private businesses, and governments from across the Southern Tier and Central New York.

The day kicked off with a keynote from Dr. Margo Wootan, Director of Nutrition Policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Dr. Wootan gave examples of successful policies from around the country and offered tips for organizations interested in adopting policies, like avoiding using industry jargon when speaking to the public and focusing messaging on increased access to healthy food, rather than the removal of unhealthy food.

Read more about the workshops here.  All of the materials from the event are  available on the FaHN website. Stay tuned for more Growing Health forums!

Are you looking to make a difference in your community?
AmeriCorps member Spencer Musselman leading a Healthy Lifestyles Coalition cooking class at the Lee Barta Center.

Applications for the 2016-2017 Rural Health Service Corps AmeriCorps term are now OPEN! Full-time, 1700 hour, paid positions will involve approximately 35 to 40 hours per week for 11-12 months, starting in September or October. Members will serve at sites such as CHOW, Lourdes Hope Dispensary, United Way of Broome County, VINES, Food and Health Network of South Central New York, and more! For more information on the positions available and to apply, please visit the RHSC website.
Rural Poverty Simulation promotes
Rural Broome Counts Research
In Fall 2014, Rural Health Network of South Central New York started an assessment process of rural Broome County's needs and assets, entitled Rural Broome Counts. As part of the participatory process, community members were asked to identify the core strengths and central challenges in rural communities; poverty was named as one of the top three challenges.

The map pictured here, which comes directly from the report published in July 2015, helps one visualize where and to what extent rural residents are struggling economically.

The information collected in the report demonstrates the need to promote understanding and identify strategies to combat this pressing issue. The Rural Poverty Simulation was chosen as a way to help community leaders, health care practioners, school teachers, and community members better understand the daily struggles of living in poverty. As we continue the work with Rural Broome Counts, we hope to identify additional opportunities to engage the community in the process and deliver our research findings through experiential learning.

Rural Broome Counts is supported by United Way of Broome County, Inc., AmeriCorps VISTA, and the New York State Office of Rural Health.  

Learn more about the Rural Broome Counts project and access the full report by following this link to our website. Stay up-to-date by liking us on Facebook

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Advancing the health and well-being of rural people and communities.

Rural Health Network of South Central New York | 2663 Main St | Whitney Point | NY | 13862