UConn Extension

Job Opportunity: Southern New England Farmers of Color Collaborative

person holding a plant
Southern New England Farmers of Color Collaborative is Hiring!
Deadline to Apply:  December 9th, 2022
The Southern New England Farmers of Color Collaborative (SNEFCC) is reaching out with exciting news that we are hiring three positions! Please help spread the word among your networks or consider applying. This is an exciting opportunity to join our team and work closely with farmers of color in the region. All team members will contribute to the completion of deliverables associated with grant-funded projects. SNEFCC commits to hiring each of these positions for up to 20 to 24 months. We anticipate filling all positions asap. Please see attached PDF for the full announcement.
Position openings:
  • Project Manager
  • Project Coordinator 1
  • Project Coordinator 2
Applicants are invited to submit a resume and cover letter expressing their interest in the position(s) below. Email your application package to: Karen Spiller atkspiller4@gmail.comby December 9th, 5:00 pm.  In the subject line of your email please use: APPLICATION TO SNEFCC – [FIRST & LAST NAME]
Background:  The Southern New England Farmers of Color Collaborative is a majority BIPOC-led and BIPOC-serving organization of beginning farmers of color and collaborators who want to increase the success of farmers of color in our New England states.  We aim to position farmers of color to be ready for new opportunities that will arise, and to provide them with the necessary skills and capabilities to build and sustain successful farm enterprises now and in the future.

For more about the New CT Farmer Alliance, visit our web site at http://www.newctfarmers.com

8 Essential “Always” of Holiday Food Safety

Article by Indu Upadhyaya, Ph.D., Assistant Extension Educator, Food Safety

cooked turkey on a tableHoliday gatherings bring families and friends together, to spread more joy and happiness. While the merriment begins around Thanksgiving and continues until the New Years’, the food during holiday buffets, the party trays, the turkey, and other delicacies remain the main attraction of gathering. But be aware that a well-meaning and much anticipated get together can easily turn sour if the food is not safely prepared, served, or stored. Food safety should be diligently taken care of, especially during holidays, as in the delight of the season, negligence could cause serious health consequences.

Most people who get sick from eating contaminated food, might have mild illness and recover early, however susceptible population can see lasting effects or even death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans get sick each year from contaminated food. Approximately 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die due to foodborne diseases across the country. These data are out of reported cases, thereby not including cases of undocumented, non-reported stomach indigestions and/or mild diarrhea or vomiting. The real number of patients getting sick from foodborne illnesses is still an unknown and hard to predict.

What you CAN do this season is control food contamination at your own home and community. Start with these simple steps aligning with USDA holiday food safety guidelines.

Here are the 8 “always” of food safety to help everyone stay healthy during the holiday season:

  1. Always wash your hands

It’s a simple rule to follow, yet many easily forget in midst of festivities. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wash hands:

  • Before you start preparing food,
  • After using the bathroom,
  • Before serving food and eating,
  • After you handle raw meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs.
  1. Always clean and sanitize:

Clean and sanitize any surfaces that have touched raw turkey, meat or fish and their juices and will later touch food such as kitchen counters, sinks, stoves, tabletops, etc.

Cleaning: with soap and hot water, and a paper or dish towel. Use these to remove any dirt and debris you can see.

Sanitizing: sanitize the surfaces to kill any remaining germs. Different food grade sanitizers or sanitizing wipes can be used. Allow to air dry and follow the label instructions on commercial sanitizers to determine whether you need to rinse food preparation areas after use.

Food borne bacteria like Campylobacter and Salmonella, found in poultry products, can survive on countertops and other kitchen surfaces from 4 to up to 32 hours, so make sure you repeat this step after handling raw meats or turkey.

Don’t forget to clean and sanitize any areas that will encounter the turkey before and after cooking.

  1. Always Thaw the Frozen Meat/Turkey Safely:

Always follow USDA recommended thawing. There are three ways to safely thaw a turkey: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave.

  • Refrigerator thaw: Turkey can be safely thawed in a refrigerator. Allow roughly 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. After thawing, a turkey is safe in a refrigerator for one to two days, before cooking.
  • Cold water thaw: The cold-water thawing method will thaw your turkey faster but needs to be done very carefully. When thawing in a cold-water bath, allow 30 minutes per pound and submerge the turkey in its original wrapping to avoid cross-contamination. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Cook immediately after thawing.
  • Microwave thaw: Smaller sized turkeys that fit in the microwave can be thawed using this method. Make sure to follow manufacturer’s recommendations. Cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during the thawing process, bringing the food to the “Danger Zone.” (Between 40-140F).

It’s safe to cook a completely frozen turkey; however, it will take at least 50 percent longer to fully cook.

Remember to never thaw your turkey in hot water or leave it on a countertop.

  1. Always Separate food items to avoid cross contamination:

Cross-contamination is the spread of bacteria from raw meat and poultry onto ready-to-eat food, surfaces, and utensils. To avoid this, always use separate cutting boards — one for raw meat and poultry, and another for fruits and vegetables. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish, and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash cutting board, knife, and counter tops with hot, soapy water.

USDA recommends not to wash your raw poultry due to the risk of splashing bacteria throughout your kitchen. It can easily lead to aerosolizing bacteria and cross contamination.  As mentioned earlier, always clean and sanitize any surfaces that have touched raw turkey and its juices. That includes counters, sinks, stoves, tabletops, utensils, and plates. Sinks are the most contaminated areas of the kitchen, so keep them clean and don’t transfer any dirty items to clean spaces. It’s important to pay attention to your movements in the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination.

  1. Always Cook Thoroughly:

Always follow a standard recipe to cook properly. Make sure your turkey is cooked to a safe final internal temperature of 165°F by using a reliable food thermometer. Check the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing, and the innermost part of the thigh. Cook your turkey at 325º F until its internal temperature reaches at least 165º F. Cooked, hot foods should be kept at 140º F or warmer.

When cooking a stuffed turkey, pay attention that the turkey, as well as the stuffing inside of it, reaches at least 165º F. Even if the turkey itself reaches 165º F, the stuffing inside may take longer. Its best to prepare your stuffing and turkey just before cooking. Using a cold stuffing makes it more difficult to reach the safe temperature of 165º F. Stuff the turkey loosely and use ¾ of a cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. Use a moist stuffing rather than a dry stuffing because heat destroys bacteria better in a moist environment. To be on the safe side, cook stuffing separately.

If cooking other meats, cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. If you prefer, you may choose to cook the meat to a higher temperature.

For Ground meats: Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

For baked goods, avoid eating foods containing raw eggs or uncooked flour, such as cookie dough or cake batter. It’s tempting to sneak a taste during preparation, but pathogens like Salmonella present in these ingredients can lead to food poisoning if not cooked first.

  1. Always follow the 2-hour rule:

All perishable foods must be refrigerated within two hours of coming out of the stove or fridge, or one hour if the ambient air temperature is above 90°F. Never forget this 2-hour rule put forth by USDA. After two hours, perishable food will enter the “Danger Zone” (between 40 F and 140 F), which is where bacteria can multiply quickly and cause the food to become unsafe. Discard all foods that have been left out for more than two hours.

  1. Always Keep warm food warm and cold food cold

Remember the rule — keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

  • Always transport hot foods by wrapping in dishes in insulated containers to keep their temperature above 140 F.
  • Always transport cold foods in a cooler with ice or gel packs to keep them at or below 40 F.

When serving food to groups, maintain the temperature by using chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should remain above 140 F and cold items should remain below 40 F. Temperature abuse of food is one of the main reasons for people falling sick very often. Always follow proper guidelines.

  1. Always store leftovers appropriately:

Everyone looks forward to Thanksgiving leftovers. But they must be stored and refrigerated promptly to be safe to eat. After the turkey is served, immediately slice, and refrigerate on shallow platters. Store leftover food in shallow containers and refrigerate promptly. Use refrigerated turkey and stuffing within three to four days. Use gravy within one to two days. Thanksgiving leftovers are safe to eat up to four days in the refrigerator. In the freezer, leftovers are safely frozen indefinitely but will keep best quality from two to six months.

Always reheat all leftovers to 165°F, and check that temperature with a food thermometer. Cold foods should be kept at 41º F or less. And as they say, when in doubt, throw it out! Do not try to save potentially contaminated food.

Lastly, don’t prepare foods if you are sick or showing symptoms of vomiting or diarrhea or if you recently had such symptoms. Many foodborne illnesses are transmitted unknowingly by human error, by a food preparer who had these symptoms. If you are ill, let someone else do the cooking so you can have a safe and enjoyable meal with your family and friends.

References and additional resources:

Newest Crop Insurance Program

Small-scale, diversified farmers – have you heard the news? There’s a new insurance program available from USDA called Micro Farm insurance, available specifically for farmers making up to $350,000 annually. If you’ve thought federal crop insurance didn’t apply to you before, well, things are starting to change!
CT will have an in-person workshop at the Tolland Ag. Center, Vernon, CT –  Dec 1, 2022 (10am – 5pm, morning and afternoon sessions) It’s Free and Lunch is included!

This workshop is a sequence of five parts, divided into Session One and Session Two.  Session One (Parts A and B) covers Micro Farm eligibility requirements and the application process. In Session Two (Parts C, D, and E), we’ll look at ways to refine your financial recordkeeping. We invite you to attend one or both sessions depending on your interests and needs.

Session 1: Micro Farm Insurance – What is This and Who is Eligible?(Part A) Leave knowing whether Micro Farm insurance is applicable to your operation and what other risk management options are available if you are currently ineligible.

Session 1: Micro Farm Insurance – Applying for Insurance and What You Need to Know(Part B) Leave knowing how to apply for and benefit from Micro Farm insurance, and what financial records you will need. Understand how the insurance premium and coverage works, and how to work with an insurance agent and place a claim.

Session 2: Refining Your RecordsRefine your financial recordkeeping to better manage your farm business and prepare you for the Micro Farm insurance program.    (Part C) Understanding Your Farm’s Financial Records    (Part D) Preparing a Schedule F Tax Form    (Part E) Steps for Improving Your Financial Recordkeeping

Can’t attend but still could use the help? Check out these self-guided tools:

Check out The Carrot Project’s resources on USDA Micro Farm insurance and register for workshops here:  https://thecarrotproject.salsalabs.org/microfarmworkshop20222023

If you have any questions or would like individualized support, reach out to Amanda Chang, Outreach Coordinator at The Carrot Project, at achang@thecarrotproject.org or 617-674-2371 x 10.
This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2021-70027-34693.

Fall Updates from Extension

The changing seasons are a reliable time marker, and this fall, UConn Extension is experiencing our own transitions. It’s an exciting time as new educators join the team and continue implementing our statewide programs. Catch up on our latest updates: s.uconn.edu/fall-news

Summer Program Updates

Empowering Connecticut Communities 

Extension programs are in full swing this summer, both in-person and online. we are here to serve and empower our Connecticut communities, while co-creating solutions to the critical issues that residents and communities are facing. Programs focus on the expertise of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) and incorporate UConn’s research. These areas include agriculture and food, climate adaptation and resilience, enhancing health and well-being, and sustainable landscapes at the urban-rural interface. All programs incorporate diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice, as we strive to empower all Connecticut residents.

There are opportunities for you to become further involved with Extension programs this summer. Our UConn 4-H program is preparing for the new 4-H year that begins on October 1st and we need help statewide implementing these programs. Volunteer opportunities include one-time commitments and ongoing involvement. Extension is hiring in different locations at our statewide offices. This summer, we welcomed 17 interns to work on various programs and extend our knowledge further while providing them with life transformative educational opportunities. Finally, we continue adding to our suite of online programs that are offered in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. We look forward to working with you on our various programs and initiatives.

Learn about all our updates.

Youth: Apply for New Biotechnology Career Readiness Program

youth with DNA strandYouth are invited to apply for a new biotechnology career readiness program with UConn Extension’s 4-H program. Cohorts of teen 4-H members will build knowledge and career awareness through the program, while also visiting laboratories, meeting with biotechnology professionals, and developing a biotechnology video game.

Applications are available now for this new program at s.uconn.edu/biotech – youth ages 14-18 with an interest in learning about biotechnology and exploring career opportunities are invited to apply. 

Selected participants will join a cohort, visit agriculture, food, and biotechnology companies in the state (including participating in field trips), explore careers in food, agriculture, biotechnology and STEM, and help build online games. Each group is limited to 20 youth, ensuring that all participants receive ample opportunities to interact with program leaders and industry professionals.

“Our project is propelling innovative biotechnology and STEM career work in our 4-H youth development program to the next level. We will sustain project outcomes through ongoing support from our partners. This is a strategic growth area for the 4-H program and Extension,” says Jennifer Cushman, the principal investigator on the grant. Cushman is also the co-team leader for the UConn 4-H program.

Youth will also experience the 4-H fundamentals of belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. These all align with a Whole Child approach through the 4-H Thrive Model. Evaluation will include the 4-H Common Measures validated instrument.

Visit s.uconn.edu/biotech for more information on the new project and for the youth participation application.

UConn 4-H is the youth development program of UConn Extension. As part of the University of Connecticut, 4-H has access to research-based, age-appropriate information needed to help youth reach their full potential. The mission of 4-H is to assist all youth ages 5-18 in acquiring knowledge, developing leadership and life skills while forming attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, productive and contributing members of their families and communities.

This work is supported by the Food and Agriculture Nonformal Education program, grant no. 2022-68018-36094 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Expanding Access to Financial Literacy Resources with Naiiya Patel

Naiiya PatelHey! I’m Naiiya Patel and this summer, I am working as the Financial Literacy for Youth and Young Adults intern at the UConn Extension New Haven County Center. The financial education program is run by Faye Griffiths-Smith. She teaches workshops across Connecticut educating the public and providing professional development opportunities related to important financial literacy topics such as budgeting, savings, credit, debt, being prepared for the unexpected, and money management. The resources presented in workshops provide necessary financial education on how to make informed decisions regarding finances. The workshops extend beyond teaching high school and college students.

Recently, we have been working with veterans, retirees, and refugee groups throughout Connecticut. The main goal is to provide this information as early as possible to Connecticut residents so that they can practice smart habits regarding their important financial decisions like buying a home or car, creating an emergency fund, or preparing for retirement. As an intern, I work behind the scenes to help make sure the workshops go smoothly. I assist in script refinement and supplemental research work regarding the specific topic we are teaching. Recently a bigger project we are working on is an online game for college and high school students. I update and crossmatch Connecticut data regarding salaries, taxes, apartments, and other expenses create a simulation of what it is like to navigate financial decisions as a young working adult. My internship also involves promoting various financial health and wellbeing topics by developing social media messaging on Twitter and Facebook. Part of my marketing work for the program involves a separate independent project where I will develop short educational videos on financial literacy topics such as a cash flow budget. 

What is SNAP-Ed? Intern Jenna Zydanowicz Explains

My name is Jenna Zydanowicz, I am a rising junior, and an Allied Health Science major. I have a passion for nutrition, engaging with the community, and trying to promote healthy lifestyles. I love being able to educate families, children, and adults on the importance of nutrition and still eating well on a low income budget. I am an intern for UConn School and Family, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- Education Program (SNAP-Ed). The purpose of the SNAP-Ed program is to assess, develop, implement, and evaluate tailored direct nutrition education to SNAP recipients at multiple diverse sites in numerous Connecticut towns. We provide fact-based and tailored online information to support healthy eating and physical activity. A few of our direct education reaches parents of young toddlers, preschoolers, and parents with children ages 5 to 18. We also reach adults, senior centers, food pantries and mobile food distribution to provide recipes and information related to healthy eating for those in need. We facilitate access to affordable healthy foods by partnering with experts at UConn and in the community. We use multiple social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach target audiences and provide easy access to nutrition information. We provide many different types of nutrition related resources such as recipes, handouts, food samples, and access to our Healthy Family CT website. A few goals the SNAP- Ed program have are to increase the target audience’s knowledge and skill to achieve healthier diet and access local and affordable healthy food, improve their willingness to consume a healthier diet while encouraging an increase in physical activities, and increase their diet quality.

Website: https://healthyfamilyct.cahnr.uconn.edu/

Nutrition Education in the Community Through SNAP-Ed

intern-BrookeHello everyone! My name is Brooke Bosco, and I am a rising senior majoring in Dietetics. This summer I am an extension intern working with the UConn School and Family Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education Program (SNAP-Ed). UConn Healthy Family CT SNAP-Ed works towards accomplishing Connecticut’s goals and objectives to deliver nutrition education and physical activity messages to SNAP-Ed recipients and those who are eligible. We focus on delivering fact-based, tailored nutrition education to our target population of income-challenged adults, families, and children who may be experiencing food insecurity. We reach these groups in different towns including East Hartford, New Britain, Manchester, Willimantic, Enfield, and Hartford.

Part of my work is delivering direct and indirect nutrition education in different areas of the community, including elementary schools, senior centers, public libraries, community events, food pantries, and Foodshare mobile. I am also working with other SNAP-Ed team members to enhance the material on Healthy Family CT’s website and social media accounts, which also focuses on reaching our target audience with nutrition education. We hope that our education increases our audience’s knowledge and skills to achieve healthier diets and access local and affordable healthy food. We also hope that it improves their willingness to consume a healthier diet and increase physical activity.

I developed an interest in community nutrition during my supervised practice training this past spring semester. Nutrition education is so important in low-income communities because it helps to prevent nutrition-related health issues such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. These health issues can create even more hardship and financial burden for this community. It has been an amazing opportunity to be a part of this effort! I encourage you to check out UConn Healthy Family CT’s website (healthyfamilyct.cahnr.uconn.edu) and social media accounts with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.