June 2016
A monthly newsletter to keep you informed.

Director's Message

As of January, Rural Health Network of SCNY has begun providing updates to supporters and partners each month through our e-newsletter. I have offered to contribute to the effort. In considering what to write about, I thought it might be helpful to our readers to have some sense of who I am and how I got here. 

After spending my twenties engaging in a wide range of land-based work, education, and service, I began my career in health and human services at age 30 after graduating with a Master's Degree in education from SUNY Oneonta. Since that time I have worked in the fields of developmental disabilities, Community Action (anti-poverty programming), and youth development. Since 2005 I've been immersed in rural health work as Director of RHNSCNY. As many know, I also keep busy at home working to reclaim an old dairy farm where we raise sheep and cattle.

I share this background because it may be helpful in understanding my perspective as I contribute to the e-newsletter. I describe myself first and foremost as a rural advocate, inspired by the writing and wisdom of grounded visionaries like Wendell Berry and mentor and friend, Shanna Ratner, Principal of Yellow Wood Associates and a national leader in effective and innovative rural economic and community development. If rural communities are going to be healthy communities, we need to invest in local and regional economic strategies that build and retain wealth in all its forms. To be healthy and viable, rural has to be more than a place where resources are extracted, waste in all forms is "dumped," and second homes are built for those who can afford them.

Closer to home, I have been inspired and sustained by many mission-driven, talented, and generous colleagues and friends I have been privileged to work with. A focus of my newsletter submissions will be to share how their good work is making a difference in our rural region. I look forward to sharing some of these stories with you in future issues.

Jack Salo
Executive Director, RHNSCNY 

Summer Food Service Assessment Leads to Innovation 
Food and Health Network Logo

In 2015, nearly 8,500 children received free summer meals in the eight-county Food and Health Network (FaHN) region*. Participation in the federal Summer Food Service Program, which provides free summer meals to children ages 18 and under, increased 38% from 2013 to 2015. Meals were served by 42 sponsors at 120 meal sites in the region. These findings come from a regional Summer Food Service Program Assessment by the Food and Health Network. The assessment includes data, resources, survey feedback, and a summary of best practices and challenges based on collaboration with summer meal sponsors, site managers, and community partners. 

Data and findings from the assessment are being used to build capacity at summer meal sites in the FaHN region. For example, the Tioga County Anti-Hunger Task Force, established in 2015, used survey feedback from summer meal sponsors and site supervisors to determine key challenges faced in 2015 and opportunities for expansion in 2016. The assessment identified gaps in access for children in rural areas of the county, and in 2016, six new sites will be open. The task force is also piloting a Summer Lunchbox program to provide meals for kids on the weekends to close the gap between days when summer meals are available. 

Summer meal sponsors, supervisors, community organizations, and volunteers are taking innovative approaches to reaching food insecure children in the FaHN region. Through the regional summer meals assessment, ideas and best practices are shared at a regional level to close the summer hunger gap for children throughout the region.

The full assessment will be available at the end of June. Check the FaHN website (foodandhealthnetwork.org) for more information. 

*The Food and Health Network region includes Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Tioga, and Tompkins County.
Rural Health Service Corps News
AmeriCorps VISTA members Brooke Ann Coco and Maggie Reeger.

May was a busy month for RHSC AmeriCorps members! On May 7th, AmeriCorps members visited Chenango Valley State Park as part of I Love My Park Day, a state-wide initiative through Parks and Trails New York. 

Throughout the state, over 7,500 volunteers participated in cleanup, beautification, and improvement projects at over 110 state parks and historic sites. Not a week later, RHSC members participated in a full day of CPR and first aid training and became certified through the Red Cross. 

Applications are now open for full-time, year-long AmeriCorps positions starting in August, September and October. For more information about Rural Health Service Corps and to apply to one of our programs, please visit www.ruralhealthnetwork.org/americorps
AmeriCorps Member 
Dzifa Alifo.


The Chenango United Way is once again partnering with the Department of Defense to host Greater Chenango Cares IRT (Innovative Readiness Training) from July 15-24 at the Norwich High School Complex. This exercise provides real world training opportunities for military service members while supporting the needs of America's diverse communities. Patients will be offered services in medical, dental, optometry, and veterinary care at no cost.  

Approximately 400 civilian volunteers are needed to assist the service personnel in scheduling and patient flow, just as they would in emergency situations. With over 3,000 patients expected, volunteers will be critical to the success of this event.  

Sign up now to volunteer at http://volunteer.chenangouw.org/aem.  

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