When it comes to natural disasters and tragedies, most people opt for complete avoidance. But what should you do when it is not a matter of avoidance, but minimizing risk? Most experts will agree that being prepared to adapt to the expected conditions is the best plan: Read more »
Yuut Elitnaurviat – People’s Learning Center (YE) is a non-profit vocational training center created by regional leaders to address the unique training and vocational education needs of the primarily Native residents of the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta Region of southwestern Alaska. YE has been carefully designed and is community driven. Read more »
Don’t Miss Meat and Poultry Hotline Manager Diane Van’s Live Facebook Chat, Thursday at 1:00 p.m. EDTPosted by
The mercury is rising as we near the 4th of July weekend, and so are opportunities for foodborne illness. To ward off the potential food disasters that large gatherings, sweltering heat, and high humidity can combine to create, FSIS is taking a new approach to getting its Be Food Safe message to consumers before the summer’s hottest holiday begins.
On Thursday, July 1 at 1:00 p.m. ET, FSIS Meat and Poultry Hotline Manager Diane Van will host a live “Summer Food Safety Chat” on USDA’s Facebook page. With over 8,000 fans and popularity among consumers of all ages and backgrounds, the USDA’s Facebook page will serve as our platform to let consumers ask our expert what they want to know about shopping, preparing and grilling for the 4th of July.
We hope this chat will be succesful in engaging consumers in our food safety education efforts, and we hope it will be successful in reducing instances of foodborne illness this Independence Day. To join, simply log in to your own Facebook account, become a fan of the US Department of Agriculture, and ask away! Invite your friends—Facebook ones and real ones alike—and make sure they know to join as well. Until then, we suggest following our Twitter feed, where you can’t ask us questions, but you can get short, timely notices of FSIS recalls, other news, and seasonal food safety tips.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.By Jennifer Sowerwine, University of California – BerkeleyMy mouth begins to water just thinking about all the delicious fruits and vegetables I will enjoy this coming weekend celebrating the Fourth of July. And we’re lucky here in Northern California to have a wealth of fresh produce grown locally.
Many stores, restaurants and even schools aren’t taking advantage of this local supply. This past spring, with support from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and in coordination with the University of California Cooperative Extension Service, I started a project to open up new markets for local growers by connecting them with new buyers. In particular, we worked with strawberry growers of Southeast Asian descent in the Sacramento and Fresno regions. This is part of a larger program to increase the economic viability of Southeast Asian farms in California’s Central Valley through on-farm research and training in crop production, pest management, food safety and marketing.
Most of the 95 strawberry farm stands in the Sacramento region are owned by Hmong and Mien refugees from Laos, who turned to farming when they immigrated to the United States after the Vietnam War. They sell most of their product at farm stands, but during peak season demand can’t keep up with production. With limited language skills, most farmers can’t access new markets and leave the fruit to rot in the field.
In partnership with local produce distributor, Produce Express, and several nonprofits including the Community Alliance with Family Farms, the Alchemist Community Development Corporation and Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture and Education Project, we now bring fresh, local strawberries into children’s school lunches, restaurants and low-income neighborhoods. Some farmers deliver direct to the schools, allowing children to consume berries picked just hours before.
We also want to reduce “food miles” or the distance food must travel from farm to fork. We created a Google map to help residents find their closest farm stand. Sacramento-area residents are able to enjoy fresh strawberries from farms located less than 10 miles from their residences.
This year, twelve local strawberry farmers sold an additional 4,600 cases of berries beyond their own farm stands, earning a combined $58,000. These additional revenues are a welcome relief for these small farmers, who on average gross $15,000 in a good year. These partnerships are a win-win solution for both small farmers and residents, especially low income residents and school children, who have greater access to fresh, nutritious, local food.
Fresh, local strawberries are now available to more than 60,000 school children through a partnership between local growers, the Sacramento School District and the University of California Cooperative Extension Service.
By Darin Leach, USDA Iowa Public Information Coordinator and by Vicki Schurman, Nebraska Public Information Coordinator
Earlier this month USDA Rural Development housing administrator Tammye Trevino and four state directors participated in tour to celebrate national Homeownership Month. The theme of national Homeownership Month this year is “Protecting the American Dream.”
During the past year, USDA Rural Development in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa have combined to invest more than $1.5 billion in direct and guaranteed loans to help 9,090 families purchase homes in rural areas.
In Glenwood, Iowa, the tour started by walking through an energy-star rated home currently under construction where the builder explained some construction techniques being used to improve energy efficiency.
The tour then moved across the street and recognized the Tighe family on their recent home purchase that was assisted by a direct loan from USDA Rural Development. The family was very appreciative of all we have done to help them achieve their homeownership dreams.
The final destination in Glenwood was a stop at a local realtor to recognize some local housing partners.
Administrator Trevino also visited Plattsmouth, Nebraska. She joined Nebraska Rural Development State Director Maxine Moul at Cass County Bank, a local lender. Jal Angelsson and Susan Ramirez and Kendra and Robert Green were the guest of honor homeowners. The families were presented flags that were flown over the U.S. Capitol at the request of U. S. Senator Ben Nelson. Also, congratulatory letters from the Senator were read. The partners gave testaments to the American Dream of homeownership and the importance of partnering. After the program it was off to a tour of the homes.
First on the tour was the Jal Angelsson home. Jal and his family were already homeowners but needed a larger house to meet the growing demands of this family of five. With the assistance of an area real estate agent, Jal found a home and obtained a 100 percent loan through Cass County Bank, backed by the USDA Rural Development Guaranteed Loan program via American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. Also on the tour was the home of Kendra and Robert Green. The Greens were tired of paying rent and wanted to provide their 18 month old daughter, with a home. They received a low interest rate, no money down loan funded through the USDA Rural Development Single Family Housing Direct Loan program through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. “We closed on our house April 16, 2010 and couldn’t be happier,” shared Kendra Green. “Owning a home was something we really didn’t think we would ever be able to do. USDA made our dreams a reality.”
USDA Housing Administrator Tammye Trevino (fifth from right) Homeowners, builders and USDA officials stand in front of a home in Glenwood, Iowa financed with assistance from USDA Rural Development.
USDA Rural Housing Administrator Tammye Trevino (Center) in Plattsmouth, Nebraska with homeowners Jal Angelsson and Susan Ramirez ( to Ms. Trevino’s left) and Emmelynn, Robert and Kendra Green.