Friday, April 5, 2024

Taking food & nutrition beyond the table 

Amy Kohanski presenting at the Food Justice Summit.

By Amy Kohanski, The Heart Network

National Nutrition Month (March) is now behind us, however, the team at The Heart Network has been thinking a lot about this year’s theme, “Beyond the Table,” and how that ties into work happening here in the North Country. The Heart Network looks at food and nutrition as a public health issue.

A key aim of our Creating Healthy Schools & Communities program, which is funded by a grant from the New York State Department of Health, is to increase the availability of healthy foods in school, worksite and community settings. We also strive to help individuals take control of their health through better management of chronic disease — a big part of that involves making healthy food choices.

Nutrition isn’t as simple as a meal plan or a snack choice. National Nutrition Month’s “Beyond the Table” theme addresses everything from local food production and distribution to navigating grocery stores and farmers markets, how we store our food, and dispose of waste, and more. The theme also acknowledges the different ways we eat, whether it’s at the dinner table or on the go. In short, everything is connected, and all of it ultimately affects not only our personal health but also the health of our planet.

Here in the North Country, communities, schools and organizations are looking at food through this big picture lens. In February, The Heart Network’s team had the privilege of participating in the sixth annual Adirondack Food Justice Summit, the theme of which was “Stronger Together: Growing Partnerships to Transform Local Food Systems.” The topics spanned the same themes of Nutrition Month — consumption, production, food waste management, and climate with a focus on health systems and policy.

Speakers at the Summit explored how locally produced food can offer more nutritional and health benefits than commercially produced food, discussed the connections between food and culture, and how individual choices can influence food consumption of the people around you. Over 160 people from six counties attended as a testament to the importance of this issue. The summit provided great networking opportunities with our regional partners. Face-to-face encounters help to build bridges that support collaboration throughout the year. Our staff walked away with renewed passion for our work, and are now thinking more about their role in bolstering food security.

We are inspired by the progress of the Adirondack Food System Network, the regional collaborative that organizes the Summit and works year-round to better understand system-wide issues, identify gaps and pursue solutions to build a more sustainable, regional and equitable food system. We encourage you to learn more:

Our daily food choices are important when it comes to our personal health, but it’s equally — if not more — important to continue thinking about the bigger picture. Policies and practices adopted by whole communities can have a huge impact on public health.

Amy Kohanski is a project director at The Heart Network and a member of the Adirondack Food System Network’s Steering Committee. She can be reached at

Photo at top: Amy Kohanski presenting at the Food Justice Summit. Provided photo.

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The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park. Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at

6 Responses

  1. Fisherking says:

    Elise Stefanik brings chocolate milk to the lunch rooms across the state. She supports your children’s constitutional rights as long as you have enough coin.

    • Dave says:

      Because Democrats removing urinals in Albany elementary schools so the boys feel more feminine is much more healthier and sanitary.

      • Boreas says:

        I didn’t know what a urinal was until I was visited my first public rest room. And I have never had one in a residence. Are they really necessary? I thought the only reason for them was for water-savings, not my feeling of masculinity.

    • JohnL says:

      Yeah, the 5th largest milk producing state in the country wouldn’t want to have any of that milk available to their kids.

    • Mike says:

      Elise Stefanik:
      My statement on opposing the Biden Administration’s milk restrictions for WIC families:

      “Joe Biden’s WIC restrictions will cause significant negative effects on the health of babies, mothers, and families participating in WIC to access nutritious milk products. Families are already struggling with skyrocketing prices due to Bidenflation and the Biden Administration’s new rule would limit their access to the healthy milk products our dairy farmers in Upstate New York and the North Country work hard to provide to our communities. I will continue to work to ensure our new mothers and developing children have access to nutrient rich milk.”

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