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School Garden Brings Local Foods, Agriculture Education into Students’ Lives

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 06/12/2015 - 1:00pm
One of the best parts of my job as a Farm to School Regional Lead for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is visiting schools and districts that are bringing local foods into the cafeteria and teaching students where their food comes from. And I am always particularly excited when I get to visit programs [...]

The Results Are In: Judging the 2015 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 06/11/2015 - 1:00pm
This spring, kids from across the country honed their culinary and nutrition skills to participate in the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, and the wait is over to find out who received the top spot from each of the 50 states, four U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. The winners of the 2015 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge [...]

Bringing the Farm to the City: How a Local Land Grant University is Supporting a Different Kind of Agriculture

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 06/11/2015 - 1:00pm
This year I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of urban agriculture operations. From California to Cleveland, the ability of individuals to realize the multidimensional benefits of agricultural production and leverage them in an urban context has been nothing short of amazing. This past week I visited a University that is heavily involved [...]

Celebrating Small Cities Month

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 1:00pm
June is Small Cities Month, an opportunity to celebrate the unique and important role our smaller communities play in our rural economy and making our nation a great place to live and work.  Leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship often hail from small cities and their residents are proud of their hometowns. USDA partners with communities [...]

Let the Good Times Flow for National Dairy Month!

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 06/04/2015 - 1:00pm
June is an eventful and versatile month—the start of warm summer days, school vacations, and holidays like Father’s Day and Flag Day.  We also celebrate many unusual observances in June such as Heimlich Maneuver Day, National Yo-Yo Day, and National Donut Day. But who can enjoy a donut without a nice, cold glass of milk? [...]

Closing the Summer Hunger Gap for Kids in Rural America

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 06/04/2015 - 1:00pm
Cindy Bomar is a dedicated person; she is dedicated to her job and to her various volunteer organizations.  And most of her charitable efforts are devoted to helping children, especially poor children. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for youth in Virginia, Cindy has all too often seen the suffering of poor and neglected [...]

Summer Meal Programs Offer Nutrition, Combat Hunger for America’s Children and Teens

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 1:00pm
Cross-posted from the National Dairy Council blog: Summer vacation is something all kids look forward to, but unfortunately hunger doesn’t take a vacation. More than 21 million American children and teens depend on free or reduced-price school meals during the school year, and when school cafeterias close, many of them lose their most important source [...]

MyPlate Broadens its Reach

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 05/28/2015 - 9:00pm
As part of Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) is pleased to announce the translation of the ChooseMyPlate 10 Tips resource and MyPlate icon from English into 18 additional languages. The Office of Minority Health, of the Department of Health and Human Services (OMH/HHS), and CNPP [...]

USDA, Partners Seek Creative Ways to Boost Flavor with Less Sodium for our Students

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 05/21/2015 - 1:00pm
Sodium, the major nutrient found in salt, is essential to maintain blood volume, regulate water balance in cells, and aid nerve function.  According to the American Heart Association, however, too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. Unfortunately, 90 percent of children [...]

Adding a Helping of Books to Nutritious Summer Meals

USDA FNS Blog - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 9:00pm
The following guest blog was submitted by Kyle Zimmer, CEO of First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides access to free and low-cost books to children in need. Many USDA summer meals sites provide not only healthy meals and snacks, but also offer physical activity and enrichment activities to keep children and teens engaged [...]

USDA Agencies, Suppliers and Vendors Taking Steps to Improve USDA Foods Purchase Process

USDA FNS Blog - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 1:00pm
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) commodity purchases play an important role in supporting American agriculture.  One commodity purchasing effort – the USDA Foods Program – purchases about 2 billion pounds of nutritious, domestically produced foods each year and supplies this food to families, schools, food banks, and communities nationwide, also serving as a key [...]

New Training Tracker Tool Now Available to School Nutrition Professionals

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 05/18/2015 - 1:00pm
As a former school nutrition director, I can tell you that school nutrition professionals are dedicated to serving nutritious meals to their students and committed to making the new meal patterns work.  Established by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the new standards require schools to prepare healthier meals for the nearly 31 million [...]

Assisting the Organic Community through Cost Share Programs

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 9:00pm
Consumers are increasingly looking for organic products when they visit the supermarket.  Last year, organic products reached a record number of sales, accounting for over $39 billion in U.S. retail sales.  To meet consumer demand, the industry needs more organic operations to produce everything from organic milk to organic granola bars.  Thanks to support from [...]

Photo-Worthy Meals

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 1:00pm
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the digital age we have ample opportunity to document and broadcast every moment, meeting and meal. We have all seen those unappetizing photos of food served at school that quickly go viral. A lonesome whole wheat bun atop a sad fish fillet; a mysterious-looking [...]

Walk, Run, Ride to the First USDA Farmers Market at Night

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 05/14/2015 - 1:00pm
For 20 years, my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has managed the USDA Farmers Market.  It’s quite a milestone, and I’m thrilled to celebrate it this week by hosting the first night farmers market in Washington, DC!  There will be live music, food trucks, and an array of farmers, growers, and vendors offering cured [...]

Lessons Learned from a Food Service Director: Kids Like Healthy Foods

USDA FNS Blog - Tue, 05/12/2015 - 1:00pm
The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank them for sharing their stories! By Sharon Foley, Food Service Director, Whitley County School District, Kentucky During the more [...]

USDA Celebrates Mothers, Farmers, and Industry Leaders

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 05/08/2015 - 1:00pm
In honor of Mother’s Day, USDA thanks the nearly 100 wonderful women growers and handlers for dedicating their time and service to their respective industries through our federal fruit and vegetable marketing order committees and boards.  We spoke to a few about being a farmer, mother, and marketing order industry leader. Kelly McKnight, of the [...]

Fruits and Veggies Now Chock Full of Marketing Power

USDA FNS Blog - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 9:00pm
At CNPP, we are passionate about reaching Americans with science-based messages that encourage healthy plates because we know that far too many Americans are not eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy.  MyPlate was designed to serve as a strong visual cue to remind Americans to make healthier food and beverage [...]

Direct Certification Improves Low-Income Children’s Access to Healthy School Meals, Boosts Program Efficiency

USDA FNS Blog - Mon, 05/04/2015 - 1:00pm
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is committed to helping America’s children get the nutritious food they need to learn and grow.  Direct certification for school meals is one important strategy to make that possible for the low-income children.  This process links student enrollment records to states’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance [...]

Growing with the Times, Expanded USDA Farmers Market Opens for 20th Season

USDA FNS Blog - Fri, 05/01/2015 - 9:00pm
This morning, Secretary Tom Vilsack and I kicked off the 20th season of the USDA Farmers Market.  It was quite a celebration, complete with balloons, ribbon cutting and bell ringing!  The market underwent a major redesign and expansion this year to make room for twice as many vendors as we’ve had in the past.  Featuring [...]