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Secretary Tom Vilsack Joins Key Leaders from American Academy of Pediatrics and Pew Charitable Trusts to Call on Congress to Reauthorize Strong Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today delivered remarks at the National Press Club encouraging Congress to act quickly to reauthorize a strong Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and support the ongoing success of the healthier meals now being served in schools across the country. Vilsack was joined by American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, and Jessica Donze Black, director of child nutrition at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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USDA Awards $8 Million to Support Healthier Foods in Schools and Child Care Centers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be awarding over $8 million in grants to help school nutrition professionals better prepare healthy meals for their students. Approximately $2.6 million dollars in grants will support implementation of new national professional standards for all school nutrition employees who manage and operate the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, and $5.6 million will go to help states expand and enhance food service training programs and provide nutrition education in school, child care, and summer meal settings.

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Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Joins USDA Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will become the 52nd state agency to operate the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program. The program is part of USDA's efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of seniors, ensuring that all older Americans have access to healthy food.

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USDA Recognizes WIC Agencies for Supporting Breastfeeding Mothers

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is recognizing state and local agencies of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (more commonly known as WIC) that excel in offering education and support for breastfeeding mothers. As part of World Breastfeeding Week activities, Vilsack has also proclaimed this week, Aug. 1-7, as National WIC Breastfeeding Week, "in appreciation of breastfeeding mothers and of all the dedicated volunteers, professionals, communities, and organizations who support their efforts."

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Secretary Vilsack Proclaims August 2-8 National Farmers Market Week

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has declared Aug. 2 through 8, 2015, as "National Farmers Market Week." The declaration was made official by proclamation signed by Secretary Vilsack. This year marks the 16th annual National Farmers Market Week in honor of the important role that farmers markets play in local economies. Throughout the week, USDA will celebrate thousands of our nation's farmers markets, the farmers and ranchers who make them possible and the communities that host them.

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Fact Sheet: USDA Support for Older Americans

USDA is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of older adults, ensuring that all older Americans have access to healthy food, and that older adults in rural America have access to housing. Low-income older Americans continue to be an underserved and vulnerable population, due in part to administrative complexities associated with participating in federal assistance programs. USDA is working with state and federal partners to reduce participation barriers and increase access for seniors.

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USDA Proposes New Ways to Help Meet Nutrition Needs of Low-Income, Homebound Seniors and People with Disabilities

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to improve access to groceries for homebound seniors and people with disabilities who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. USDA is proposing for the first time to permit grocery purchasing and delivery services run by government and non-profit organizations to accept SNAP benefits as payment, allowing for home delivery to those unable to shop for food. Vilsack will announce the proposal today during the 2015 White House Conference on Aging. Nationally, only 42 percent of eligible elderly individuals participate in SNAP, compared to 83 percent for all people who are eligible.

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SNAP Benefit Redemptions through Farmers and Farmers Markets Show Sharp Increase

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants are spending more of their benefits to make purchases at roadside farm stands, farmers markets and directly from local farmers than ever before. SNAP redemptions at those outlets in FY14 totaled $18.8 million, a nearly six-fold increase since 2008. Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon will laud the increase during a visit today to Philadelphia’s Clark Park Farmers Market.

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USDA Awards Grants to Tribal Nations for Nutrition Education Programs

While representing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the annual conference of the National Association of Food Distribution Programs on Indian Reservations today, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced close to $1 million in grants to support nutrition education programs for participants of the USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. In total, 15 nutrition education projects serving participants in 17 states were selected through a competitive award process that was open to tribal nations and state agencies that administer FDPIR.

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Joins Community Partners to Expand Access to Summer Meals for Children

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined representatives from Milwaukee's Hunger Task Force, the Kohl's Corporation, and members of the Milwaukee community to bring attention to childhood hunger. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) summer meal programs provide breakfast and lunch to children in low-income communities all across the country. The event today marked the start of this program and Kohl's Serving Up Supper for Kids, a joint effort between the Hunger Task Force and the Kohl's Corporation to provide nutritious suppers to Milwaukee children in need throughout the summer.

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USDA Announces Grants to Enable More Farmers Markets to Serve Low-Income Families

Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced the availability of up to $3.3 million in competitive funding to support the ability of farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a form of payment. These awards will help expand SNAP participants' access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods found at farmers markets, while supporting our nation's farmers and producers.

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USDA Announces Progress in Reducing Improper Payments in School Meals

Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced the results of a nationwide assessment of improper payments in school meals programs, as well as several steps to sustain progress by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in reducing errors and improving school meal program integrity. Schools are responsible for ensuring that school meal programs operate according to federal requirements.  Today’s announcement will provide $8.5 million in grants to improve schools’ operational and oversight efforts in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. In addition, a new rule is being proposed to help states better target resources to districts at highest risk of improper payments. Combined, these efforts will decrease administrative errors and waste while streamlining the certification process so children can get access to the nutrition they need to learn and thrive.

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SNAP Process, Technology Improvement Grants Application Announced

Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced today the availability of $5 million in competitive grants to improve application processing and use of technology in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Applications for the grants are due June 2.

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USDA Awards $31 Million in Grants to Help SNAP Participants Afford Healthy Foods

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has awarded $31.5 million in funding to local, state, and national organizations to support programs that help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program increase their purchase of fruits and vegetables. Recognizing that all Americans fall well short of the servings of fruits and vegetables recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the grants will test incentive strategies to help SNAP participants better afford fruits and vegetables. These grants were made through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

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USDA Awards $200 Million for Skills Training to Help SNAP Recipients Get Good Jobs

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, joined by Labor Secretary Tom Perez, today announced the recipients of $200 million in competitive awards to fund and evaluate pilot projects in 10 states to help Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) participants find jobs and work toward self-sufficiency. Projects in California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington were chosen.

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USDA Announces $97 Million Available to Expand Access to Healthy Food, Support Rural Economies

In a speech at the National Farmers Union Convention today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $96.8 million in grants to fund innovative projects designed to support specialty crop producers, local food entrepreneurs, and farm to school efforts, which in turn will increase access to healthy, nutritious food for American families and children. The announcement is part of USDA efforts during National Nutrition Month to focus on improving access to fresh, healthy, and nutritious products for millions of Americans.

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USDA Announces Nationwide Expansion of Team Up for School Nutrition Success Initiative

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced additional support for schools working to serve school children healthy meals with the nationwide expansion of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success Initiative. The initiative will provide school nutrition personnel across the country tailored technical assistance and peer to peer mentoring. This allows schools to address their individual resource and training needs. USDA conducted a pilot of the Team Up effort in the southeast region last fall and will now expand the program to other regions of the country.

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USDA Awards Grants to Support Schools Serving Healthier Meals and Snacks

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be awarding over $30 million in grants to help schools prepare healthy meals for their children. Twenty-five million dollars in grants will help schools purchase needed equipment to make preparing and serving healthier meals easier and more efficient, and up to $5.5 million will provide additional training for school food service professionals.

The Communications Division coordinates public and media communications for the USDA Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services mission area. For media inquiries, please contact FNSpress@usda.gov or 703-305-2281.