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HealthierUS Schools Challenge Reaches Major Milestone

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
It’s always a treat when we get to announce major progress toward making the school day healthier. Today, I am happy to say that over 3717 schools are recognized through the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC).  This voluntary initiative acknowledges schools that go the extra mile to increase nutritious food offerings, teach kids about healthy eating, [...]

Hunger Doesn’t Stand a Chance in Michigan

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation, and the State of Michigan is making sure that nutrition assistance programs don’t either. I recently traveled to the west side of the state to see some of the inspiring work our partners are doing to make sure that no one in their community has to face hunger. I [...]

Communities on the Move Video Challenge Winners Announced

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog: The winners of the Communities on the Move Video Challenge have been chosen!  Since First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Video Challenge in February, Let’s Move Faith and Communities has been inspired by every congregation and community that submitted a video highlighting how they are promoting healthy lifestyles [...]

What Can the Food Environment Atlas Tell You?

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
Understanding a community’s food environment is key to understanding a community’s identity.  But what can a “food environment” tell us? A community’s food environment is a technical term for assessing information about the who, what, where, and how of food availability in a given community: Who are the people in the community? What kinds of [...]

Building a home, a community, friendships…and values with USDA RD Self-Help Program

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
“Even decades from now, after we die, our son will remember what we did to give him a home,” said Moises Fonseca in the comfortable living room of his new home. His six-year old son, also named Moises, smiled shyly at his dad. Moises and his wife Juanita spent eight months working after hours and [...]

Top Reasons to Shop at a Farmers Market

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
Why shop at a Farmers Market? Access to fresh, locally grown foods, for starters. That may be one of the best reasons, but there are many more. Farmers markets have fruits and vegetables at the peak of the growing season. This means produce is at its freshest and tastes the best. The food is typically [...]

Organic 101: Role of the National Organic Standards Board

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 08/02/2012 - 12:33pm
This is the sixth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is made up of dedicated public volunteers appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. It advises the National Organic Program (NOP), a part of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), on what substances should [...]

USDA Offers Funding to Support School Nutrition

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 04/27/2012 - 4:25pm
6 cent rule is a linchpin to schools adopting new meal standards that will improve kids’ meal choices in the cafeteria. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has issued an important piece of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – the 6 cent interim final rule – to give schools and communities the tools to [...]

Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth School Pilot Program: Training Teachers Coast to Coast

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 04/27/2012 - 10:22am
A classroom floor becomes a garden as 2nd graders at Hiawatha Elementary in Webster, Iowa decide which of their favorite fruits and vegetables will be planted in their school garden. Gathered in anticipation around a rectangle that represents the actual size of the garden bed, their teacher skillfully guides the planning, helping them consider which [...]

Organic 101: The Lifecycle of Organic Food Production

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 04/27/2012 - 10:22am
This is the fifth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations. Through defined farming practices, organic principles promote ecological balance, foster the cycling of resources, and conserve biodiversity. To understand what that means when it comes to the label on your food, those principles require some more [...]

Introducing the Regional Food Hub Guide: An Innovative Tool for Growing Local Food Systems

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 04/25/2012 - 7:30pm
What can farmers and ranchers do if they’re interested in selling locally but don’t have the resources to run their own trucks, processing plants or marketing strategies?  What can institutional buyers, –like schools, hospital and retailers — do to offer more local food to their customers? A regional food hub is one possible answer. Regional [...]

USDA Announces New Farm to School Program to Improve the Health and Nutrition of Kids Receiving School Meals

USDA FNS Blog - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 10:10am
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog: Last week USDA released a new farm to school grant program designed to help give children a sense of where their food comes from and increase the availability of local foods in schools. Joined by students at Southern High School in Harwood, MD, as well as school and [...]

Food and Nutrition Service Heeds the Blueprint for Cost Savings

USDA FNS Blog - Tue, 04/24/2012 - 1:02am
In the three months since Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA’s “Blueprint for Stronger Service,” the Food and Nutrition Service has continued to develop cost-saving and efficient strategies that will save taxpayers money and streamline operations. The “Blueprint for Stronger Service” was designed to modernize and accelerate service delivery while improving the customer experience through [...]

How to Get Summer Food PSAs on Your Local Radio Station

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 04/23/2012 - 1:25pm
Most kids cannot wait for school to let out in June.  However, for some parents and other caretakers, when school is out for summer, they begin to worry about how they will feed their children a nutritious breakfast or lunch.  USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) fills this summer meal gap for many low-income families [...]

Todos en la Mesa: Making Room for Everyone at the Table

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 04/20/2012 - 7:06am
During a recent visit to Southern California, I met with key partners in USDA’s efforts to address hunger and make nutritious food affordable and available, particularly in low-income communities. More than one out of four Latino families in the United States is food insecure, and many do not know that CalFresh, the name for the [...]

Fresh from the Garden

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 04/18/2012 - 4:00pm
I get to learn about a lot of great local initiatives when I make visits around the country.  On a recent trip to Dallas, I visited Metrocrest Social Services, a community resource agency in Farmers Branch, Texas, that provides services to families in crisis and helps them make plans for the future. The purpose of [...]

Community Baby Cafés: A Great Benefit for Moms, Children and Families

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 04/11/2012 - 4:10pm
As Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service, I know that our 15 nutrition assistance programs help a wide variety of people around the country. But there’s nothing like getting out of the office to personally witness the boots on the ground efforts by those who administer and promote our programs on a daily basis. [...]

Eggstra! Eggstra! Learn All About Them

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 04/11/2012 - 10:06am
Whether you prepare them for Easter dinner or as part of a Passover Seder Plate, eggs will certainly be the rave this weekend.  Coupled with egg dyeing, decorating, or hunting, it’s likely that you will find yourself searching for eggs in the super market. The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) wants to pass along some [...]

Apply to Make a Difference: Farmers Market Promotion Program Grants Available

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 04/06/2012 - 10:28am
Every day, thousands of local farmers and ranchers work hard to ensure that their communities have access to a diverse range of fresh, healthy affordable foods.  While nutritious food is a cornerstone of society’s physical health, a vibrant community also includes sustainable economic opportunities.  By funding projects that support these goals, USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion [...]

USDA Participates in the UN Commission on the Status of Women

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 04/04/2012 - 3:32pm
Rebecca Blue, Acting Deputy Undersecretary for MRP; Janie Hip, Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Tribal Affairs; and Kisha Davis, White House Fellow were excited to represent USDA on the US delegation to the UN for the 56th Commission on the Status of Women. The theme this year was the empowerment of rural women and [...]