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First Down Food Safety Tips for your Super Bowl Party

Thu, 01/30/2014 - 1:04pm
In order to win the game, the first downs have to keep coming without the penalties. Super Bowl Sunday will be a long day of first downs and a long day of eating! It’s the second highest day of food consumption in the U.S., and that means hosts and guests need to have their defense [...]

Healthy Food Choices – How do We Get There? Find out During Livestreaming Panel Discussion Feb. 21

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 7:00pm
Organic, conventional, locally grown and natural – these are all terms consumers hear every day, but do they really understand their meaning? Are consumers making informed purchasing decisions or are they simply making food decisions based on what they hear in popular culture and media? On Friday, February 21, 2014, join a group of farmers [...]

Super Bowl, Slow Cookers, and Food Safety: An Unbeatable Team

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 12:57pm
Most of the year, my slow cooker stays on the shelf in my kitchen, but, when the Super Bowl approaches, I pull it out to make chili, meatballs, or other hot party foods. The thing that I love about a slow cooker is that it can cook food safely and help me save time while [...]

From Small Potatoes to 36,000 Pounds of Carrots: Farm to School Grows

Mon, 01/27/2014 - 12:43pm
In the past few years I’ve seen an increasing number of news stories about successful farm to school programs. As reflected in the first USDA Farm to School Census, farm to school programs are thriving from Alaska to Florida and in every state between. I attended a recent event that demonstrates just how quickly—and by [...]

Secretary’s Column: The Building Blocks for a Healthier America

Fri, 01/24/2014 - 5:32pm
At USDA, we are working hard to ensure that America’s next generation has access to the healthy foods they need to grow, learn, achieve, and eventually to compete and succeed on a global stage. We are focused on feeding a healthier future, but we are also learning that the country as a whole is making [...]

Cooking Up Change Competition Kicks Off in Chicago

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 5:17pm
This November I served as a judge in the 2013-14 kick off Cooking Up Change competition here in Chicago. What is “Cooking Up Change”?  It’s a culinary competition sponsored by the Healthy Schools Campaign that challenges Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students and others across the U.S to create and prepare meals that are healthy and [...]

The Domino Effect of One Purchase

Wed, 01/22/2014 - 5:17pm
Sometimes one action can have a ripple effect—an impact that spreads outward, touching much more than just the immediate surroundings.  We see it all the time in the process of agriculture. Weather changes crop yields, then ripples through the supply chain, impacting everything from the local economy to the national average of transportation costs.  Sometimes [...]

National FFA Officers Meet with Secretary Vilsack

Fri, 01/17/2014 - 4:51pm
“We are excited by the challenges you presented to us,” said FFA National Secretary Mitch Bayer at the conclusion of a half-hour meeting of National FFA officers with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the USDA Whitten Building earlier this week. In his meeting with the officers, the Secretary covered a wide range of issues, including [...]

The Kindergarten Initiative: Connecting Students and their Families to the Worcester Food Environment

Fri, 01/17/2014 - 4:51pm
Massachusetts Farm to School Project and the Worcester Public Schools are helping kindergarteners understand how and where food is grown. They are teaching children about nutrition through local food tastings, farm and farmer visits, cooking demonstrations and take home produce. The Worcester Kindergarten Initiative is running at nine elementary schools in Worcester, MA, for the 2013-2014 [...]

Secretary’s Column: Fighting Rural Poverty in Appalachia and the Delta Region

Fri, 01/17/2014 - 4:51pm
Cross posted from the Huffington Post: Rural America faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to combating poverty in our towns and communities. Too often, rural people and places are hard to reach or otherwise underserved—but not forgotten. I believe that USDA and its partners have the tools and the wherewithal to expand [...]

Expanding SNAP Farmers Market Access through Innovative Partnerships

Thu, 01/16/2014 - 10:43am
America’s farmers’ markets are a great source of fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods, and at USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), we’ve made it a priority to expand healthy food access through farmers’ markets to those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It’s a win-win situation because, for farmers markets, [...]

Enhancing the Local School Wellness Environment

Tue, 01/14/2014 - 4:28pm
Local school wellness policies are an important tool for parents, local educational agencies, and school districts to promote student wellness, prevent and reduce childhood obesity, and provide assurance that school meal guidelines meet federal standards. They help communicate nutrition guidelines for all foods available on the school campus and include goals for nutrition education, physical [...]

Secretary’s Column: A New Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to Fight Hunger Here at Home

Fri, 01/10/2014 - 3:40pm
America’s farmers and ranchers work hard every day to put healthy food on our tables. Thanks to their incredible productivity, we have the capacity to produce enough food not only for every American family, but for much of the world. In a nation with such an abundance of food resources, it is unthinkable and unacceptable [...]

Fighting the War on Poverty in Rural America

Thu, 01/09/2014 - 3:20pm
Fifty years ago, President Johnson declared the beginning of “an unconditional war on poverty in America,” challenging us to bring to bear all of our available tools and resources to address poverty and income inequality across America. Born poor in the small town of Stonewall, Texas, President Johnson knew well that poverty is not just [...]

Bringing New Markets to Puerto Rico’s Producers

Wed, 01/08/2014 - 2:55pm
In any business venture, the key to reaching a new market is starting with accurate and comprehensive information. For American agricultural producers and suppliers looking at USDA feeding programs as a potential market, having a clear understanding of the rules, regulations and requirements is the best start on the path to success. USDA encourages new [...]

Spice It Up in the New Year – MyPlate Holiday Makeover Week 8

Mon, 01/06/2014 - 2:28pm
The MyPlate Team offers the final “Makeover Monday” recipe this week on the USDA blog and the MyPlate Facebook page. I love mushrooms and could probably eat them every day. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, textures, and flavors and can be worked into every meal. On their own, mushrooms are pretty [...]

USDA Makes Meat and Grain Serving Flexibilities Permanent

Fri, 01/03/2014 - 2:12pm
As a mother and a grandmother, and as a school nutrition professional who has served at the local, state and national levels, I know the unique challenges and rewards that come along with helping to raise children—particularly when it comes to good nutrition. Feeding kids, and feeding them well, can be tough, but I am [...]

Resolve to Fight Foodborne Illness in 2014

Mon, 12/30/2013 - 1:30pm
As 2013 comes to a close and 2014 draws nearer, many people begin to think about ways in which to make their lives better in the year to come and formulate various resolutions to achieve those goals. Some people may want to lose weight and/or get more exercise. Other people may want to read more [...]

Decida Luchar Contra las Enfermedades Transmitidas por los Alimentos en el 2014

Mon, 12/30/2013 - 1:30pm
Según el 2013 llega a su fin y el 2014 se acerca, muchas personas comienzan a pensar en formas para mejorar sus vidas en el año por venir y formular diversas resoluciones para alcanzar dichos objetivos. Algunas personas quieren querer bajar de peso y/o hacer más ejercicio. Otras personas pueden querer leer más y gastar [...]

Cheers to Good Health with MyPlate – MyPlate Holiday Makeover Week 7

Mon, 12/30/2013 - 1:30pm
With two little ones in the house, I’m always looking for ways that I can introduce them to new flavors and textures of foods and beverages. This Sparkling New Year’s Cider recipe does just that! The 100 % apple juice is familiar and adds a touch of sweetness, while the cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon introduce [...]