On Friday, August 27, 2010, I was in New Orleans to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation to the Gulf Coast. The event was held at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana. It was a hot and humid morning as we began the assembly of emergency food boxes alongside Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond, food bank executive director Natalie Jayroe and other notable citizens of New Orleans, the Gulf Coast and federal officials. Read more »
USDA Administrator of Business and Cooperative Programs Judy Canales got a taste of true southern hospitality when she visited Kentucky recently. Canales was able to experience the products of local artisans and agriculture producers that were on display in new Bath County Agricultural Education and Marketing Center in Owingsville. Read more »
This week my kids headed back to school, and I’ll be busier than last year, having been drafted to be PTA president. While getting to know the new parents at our school, I learned that several are interested in improving school meals and exploring the possibility of purchasing locally and starting a school vegetable garden. Our new principal is interested too. I myself have something of a brown thumb, but everyone was excited to hear that I work at the Department of Agriculture and had have been studying Farm to School initiatives throughout the country. I have been in close touch with USDA’s Farm to School team that will visit 15 school districts across the country to learn about their Farm to School activities.
When our agency, the Economic Research Service (ERS), put together the Food Environment Atlas earlier this year, we included information on which counties had at least one Farm to School program, using data from the National Farm to School Network. The Network maintains the only national data base of Farm to School programs. After the Atlas was released on our website, we received phone calls from programs that hadn’t been included, and this underscored the need to build a complete data base of these programs. Read more »
Chicago in August concluded our USDA Community Roundtable tour, where our Food and Nutrition Service and Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships met with almost 100 community and state partners to discuss how to improve access to SNAP at a time of growing need for food throughout the country. There my colleague Max Finberg, Director of the Center, and I met with wonderful people all over the city dedicated to fighting hunger. From the South Side to the West Side, we shared ideas with churches and other faith-based organizations, community advocates, food banks, outreach workers, school districts, community hospitals and clinics, and our state partners to discuss how to improve access to SNAP and our other fourteen USDA nutrition assistance programs. Read more »