With 3,000 employees and visitors stopping by the U.S. Department of Agriculture cafeterias on a daily basis, I was pleased to kick off the annual National Nutrition Month at the South Building Cafeteria at the USDA headquarters here in Washington today. I was joined by fellow USDA employees to introduce the 2010 theme “Green Nutrition—Local, Sustainable, Healthy Eating.” This year’s event and theme are special to us because Secretary Vilsack and I have made nutrition and healthy living a top priority at USDA through the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative. Read more »
By Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
The timing of the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) annual legislative action conference couldn’t have been better as USDA and the Obama Administration continue working on advancing the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. I really appreciated the opportunity to address the national organization representing 55,000 school nutrition professionals who are on the front lines of the effort to improve the health and nutrition of our nation’s children.
Last month, SNA announced their support for First Lady Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity initiative and agreed to a number of key steps to further improve the nutritional quality of school meals and advance nutrition education for America’s students. SNA is an important partner in our efforts to improve the health of our children and reduce childhood hunger throughout the country.
SNA knows that the answer to improving child nutrition and combating obesity lies in our ability to work together and bring everyone on board this effort. I am pleased that I could speak with them about joining me as I challenged parents, educators, and community leaders to double the number of HealthierUS Schools across the country in the next year. All have us have a stake in working together to improve the health and nutrition of our children and in turn the future of our nation.
Earlier in the week, First Lady Michelle Obama also attended the SNA conference to talk about her Let’s Move! initiative and its focus on raising a generation of kids to be healthy adults. The proposed enhancements to the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act that the Obama Administration put forward form the legislative centerpiece of the First Lady’s campaign and our efforts to ensure the health of our youngsters.
We are encouraged by the leadership that the School Nutrition Association and others have demonstrated. Looking forward we are excited to work with SNA and other organizations to encourage America’s families to get involved in school nutrition programs and promote physical activity and healthy eating at home.
This post was originally featured on the Let’s Move! Blog.
Since 2008, a cooperative of 154 oil palm farmers that comprise the Aguan Valley Palm Producers Association (APROVA) more than doubled their profits and their fruit collection capacity and opened their own refinement plant with assistance provided by TechnoServe under USDA’s Food for Progress (FFPr) Program.
Before this FFPr project began, the farmers lacked access to scales and a centralized collection center. Their disorganization put them in unfavorable negotiating positions and hurt their earning power.
Recognizing that APROVA needed a clear business strategy to succeed, TechnoServe submitted an FFPr proposal that USDA accepted in fiscal year 2005. USDA donated 4,000 tons of soybean meal and 9,350 tons of wheat to TechnoServe to sell in Honduras. The funds generated from the sale were used by TechnoServe to help APROVA develop their organizational, financial, administrative and marketing capacity.
With TechnoServe’s support, APROVA grew its assets by 185 percent, implemented a quality control and accounting and auditing system, and put into place a clear business plan. In April 2009, APROVA made additional strides by obtaining funding from USDA through the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture to open its first palm oil processing plant. The plant processes up to five tons of palm oil per day. Now, after selling their fruit to a processing plant, which extracts the palm oil and sells it back to APROVA, the farmers can refine their own oil, thus increasing their share of the profits.
The plant also extracts oil components that can be used to create commercially valuable products such as glycerin and soap. In addition, APROVA is now recognized by the national palm oil industry for its progress and sustainability, and the cooperatives membership has increased.
USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service administers the program, authorized by the Food for Progress Act of 1985. More information is available online at:
For more information about TechnoServe’s development work, visit http://www.technoserve.org/
U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln recently welcomed USDA Rural Development Administrator for Housing and Community Facilities Tammye Trevino to Little Rock for the department’s first of ten public forums on the Self-Help Housing Program.
Over eighty people from Arkansas and surrounding states attended the forum held at the William Jefferson Clinton Library. In addition from hearing from Senator Lincoln, Administrator Trevino, and Lawrence McCullough, USDA, Rural Development State Director, Arkansas Self Help Housing Grantees spoke. The forum provided the opportunity to share their personal experiences with the program.
Also while in Arkansas, Administrator Trevino participated in another forum at the Arkansas Studies Institute, focusing on rural libraries. Ms. Trevino announced an initiative to a crowd of over seventy, librarians, mayors, city officials and representatives of local businesses.
Immediately following the Rural Library Listening Forum, Ms. Trevino made the announcement of the selection of community based organizations in 18 states to receive funding to promote economic growth. The organizations will receive more than $6.5 million in total grants to support rural economic development efforts.
Left to right: Lawrence McCullough, Arkansas State Director, Tammye Trevino, USDA Administrator for Housing and Community Facilities and Chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln.
Written by Karen Petrus, USDA Rural Development, Arkansas