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Organic 101: Five Steps to Organic Certification

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 10/10/2012 - 5:51pm
The USDA organic label is backed by a certification system that verifies farmers or handling facilities located anywhere in the world comply with the USDA Organic Regulations. Certification entails five steps: STEP 1: Develop an organic system plan. The organic system plan is the foundation of the organic certification process. Created by the producer or [...]

Aquaculture Supports U.S. Soy

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:09pm
An innovative Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)-funded program in Pakistan is not only improving local diets, but is creating jobs, training workers and helping create a thriving aquaculture industry with U.S. soy. The American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) program began a three-year program last September called “FEEDing Pakistan.” ASA/WISHH [...]

USDA’s Continued Investment in Innovation and Collaboration

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:09pm
Sometimes it can take a while to turn a good idea into a successful venture.  At USDA, we understand the value of research, and by providing resources to get things started at the local level, we often see amazing results that have positive impact for farmers, agribusinesses and consumers across the country. The Federal-State Marketing [...]

Fueling Students’ Bodies: North Beach Elementary School in Miami, Florida a Leader in Nutrition and Physical Education

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 10/08/2012 - 3:09pm
North Beach Elementary School in Miami Beach, Florida was recently recognized by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service as a HealthierUS School Challenge award winner for their outstanding school meal service.  While there, we learned about the school’s wellness program which contributes significantly to a healthy learning environment. “The school wellness activities have helped lead the [...]

Specialty Crop Grants Make a Difference for Farmers and Businesses

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:02pm
Earlier today, Secretary Vilsack announced the Specialty Crop Block Grant awards totaling $55 million dollars.  These grants will fund over 748 initiatives across the United States and its territories, and help expand opportunities for local and regional farmers. Specialty crops produced in the U.S. include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, [...]

Fuel for Success: My Sports Plate

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:02pm
The new nutrition standards established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act at the US Department of Agriculture represent an important step in America’s fight against childhood obesity and will help promote healthy eating habits for youth in our nation’s schools. These standards promote a balanced diet of additional fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean [...]

Ask a School Meals Expert: How are Schools Helping Students Adjust to the New School Meals?

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:02pm
We’re continuing to answer questions we’ve received from folks about the improvements to school meals that started this school year. One concern we’ve heard is that students who may not be accustomed to eating particular foods may throw them away. We know it is important that students get the calories and nutrition they need to [...]

Secretary’s Column: Investing in America’s Rural Communities

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:02pm
As producers face an historic and ongoing drought today, President Obama and I are doing all we can to help farmers and ranchers mitigate its effects – while helping communities to overcome the economic challenges posed by the drought. To carry out our work on behalf of communities and producers, USDA has relied on programs [...]

Ask a School Meals Expert: What do the New Calorie Standards Mean for my Child?

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:02pm
You may have heard this year’s back to school season is a little different than in past years. There is a new, healthier look for the school lunch menu.  These updates represent the first major changes to school meals in 15 years, and we know that these changes come with questions.  We’ve promised to keep [...]

Chef Corps to Help Build Bridges through “Culinary Engagement”

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 10/01/2012 - 5:02pm
“Food isn’t traditionally thought of as a diplomatic tool, but sharing a meal can help people transcend boundaries and build bridges in a way that nothing else can.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Some of the nation’s top chefs have signed on to help promote American food and culinary traditions around the world through [...]

USDA’s Chief Scientist Woteki Helps Connect Scientists from across the Globe to Meet Global Challenges Facing Food and Agriculture

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
In an effort to advance food and agricultural research that enables farmers and ranchers to meet the growing global demand for food, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki will lead the U.S. Government’s delegation to the first-ever Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS) in Guadalajara, Mexico this week. Member countries committed to [...]

Students Get Involved: In Arkansas, a Healthy Garden Means a Healthy School

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
These cabbages would be the pride of any gardener, but in this case the gardeners are eighty 2nd and 4th grade students from Junction City Elementary in Junction City, Arkansas. They are among the 4,000 students in 54 schools across the country participating in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth (HGHY) – a project of USDA’s People’s [...]

Partnering for Healthier Schools: PTA Leads the Way on Healthy Food in Virginia School

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
Matoaka Elementary School isn’t the biggest school, or the oldest. But it does have a Parent Teacher Association that takes student health very seriously.  So seriously, in fact, that one committee is completely devoted to helping kids and families develop Healthy Lifestyles! “There were a few PTA parents who started talking about how our school [...]

Celebrating All Things Mushroom During National Mushroom Month

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
Whether you eat them for their unique flavor or distinct texture, there are plenty of reasons why you should try mushrooms during National Mushroom Month.  One thing is certain – you could spend the entire month of September finding different ways to enjoy mushrooms. Truly versatile, each mushroom variety has a unique appearance and texture [...]

Secretary’s Column: A Food, Farm and Jobs Bill As Soon As Possible

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
After spending much of August out of Washington, Congress is back – and rural America is watching closely, hoping for passage of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible. With farmers facing the worst drought in decades this summer and the current Farm Bill set to expire on September 30 of this [...]

Healthier School Days for Students in West Virginia

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
Recently, I joined students and staff there for breakfast and was delighted to see the youngsters start their day with a delicious parfait along with cereal, juice, milk, fresh-baked muffins and sliced oranges. While balancing the tall plastic containers of fruit and granola parfait proved just a bit challenging for a few of the younger [...]

Recognizing Champions of Change: Strengthening Food Security at Home and Abroad

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
Earlier today, I had the pleasure of congratulating 11 extraordinary individuals being recognized through the White House Champions of Change program for their work to tackle hunger in the United States and abroad. The Champions recognized today are making improved access to healthy food a reality for millions of individuals in need. Innovative programs like [...]

With Apologies to the Teacher, Local Apples Head Straight for the Cafeteria

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
An apple for the teacher? Yes, and the cafeteria too. Classic images of eager children handing perfect apples to their teacher abound. In the idealized imagery, the apples are often shiny, red, and round. And if you are angling for a good grade, or really like your teacher, the apples are big. But in New [...]

Making School Days Healthier in Miami

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
I recently had the pleasure of visiting North Beach Elementary School in Miami to recognize 177 schools in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools District for their efforts to promote good nutrition and physical activity to their students. All 177 schools achieved Bronze Awards in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). Miami-Dade now has the honor of [...]

It’s Back to School Night with the PTA… From the Comfort of Your Own Home!

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 09/24/2012 - 2:37pm
The school day just got healthier! This year, thanks to the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, students can expect to see healthier and more nutritious food on school lunch trays across the country. To help navigate what these changes mean, you are invited to join National PTA President Betsy Landers, White House Chef Sam Kass, [...]

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