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Merrigan Highlights Successful Farm-to-School Programs

When we rolled out the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative back in September, a special highlight for me was the announcement of the Farm-to-School Tactical Teams.  Through the leadership of Congress and the 2008 Farm Bill, schools can now use federal dollars to support their local farmers all the while providing students with fresh, wholesome foods that taste like they came from just around the corner (because they did!). Read more »

Iowa School District Stays Local for School Meals

As we gear up for our next Facebook chat focusing on USDA’s work surrounding farm to schools efforts, I want to share with you a story that I came across in northeastern Iowa.

KellyBetty Hare prepares local corn for Independence Community School District students Duritsa, who is the School Food Service Director of the Independence Community School District in northeastern Iowa, was asking around about sourcing locally grown foods for her school breakfasts and lunches.  (With USDA’s help, schools around the country provide low-cost or free meals to schoolchildren each day.)  In this case, Kelly was able to link up with local farmers with the assistance of her school board, community members, and a coordinator at the local farmers market.  Now she can serve fresh and local foods like sweet corn, strawberries, apples, and asparagus to her hungry students.

Of course, we here at USDA recognize that Kelly and her team had to be smart to make the leap to serving fresh and local fruits and vegetables in her schools.  While it may seem like a simple, straightforward idea, this isn’t always the case. Starting with the fact that the school year and the growing season only overlap for a few months a year in most parts of the country, Food Service folk have to do serious planning ahead to make this work.

So, as we hold up the Independence Community School District as an example that others may follow, I want to invite you to join our Facebook chat on Thursday at 3pm as we discuss how we can help make local, healthy food a daily part of our children’s lives. Become a fan of the USDA on Facebook today!

Wheat Research in Maine Rising to the Challenge

There is nothing like the smell of fresh baked bread. Now image if bread, like wine, was valued for its “terroir” – the idea that the land where the ingredients come from impart a special flavor or essence to the final product. Well that may not be a far fetched idea if you try Borealis Breads up in Portland, Maine. Read more »

Smokey Bear and Sammy Soil Team Up for Conservation

It was a moment some felt would never happen – at least not so spontaneously. The two mascots, the Forest Service’s Smokey Bear and the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Sammy Soil were amusing adults and children attending the final USDA Farmer’s Market of the year, when they met face to face on Jefferson Drive. The moment was a little tense as no one really new what would happen. Read more »

USDA Celebrates Food and Nutrition at the Inaugural Fall Festival

Halloween has passed, but here in DC the fall leaves are still beautiful despite all the rain we’ve been having–and last Friday USDA had a great end of season party. Read more »

Recovery Act Funds Provide Jobs and Help Families find Affordable Housing in Nebraska

Pastor Mendez family stands in front of their new home, financed with Recovery Act guarantee funds through USDA Rural DevelopmentOne of the most satisfying things about being State Director of USDA Rural Development in Nebraska is seeing in person how the Recovery Act helps our local businesses and families. Read more »