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Idaho Residents Receive Improved Fire Protection Services thanks to USDA Recovery Act Funds

Wow, the first emergency call out of the new fire station.  As I pulled into the driveway of the new Heyburn, Idaho, Fire Station for the ribbon cutting, I was greeted with the red lights flashing on the fire truck as the fire crew rushed to their call.   Initially, I thought about how much faster the crew can respond to the family who needs their help due to the improved location of a new station, thanks in part to the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Direct Loan program, with funds for this particular station being provided through the Recovery Act of 2009.   But then my thoughts turned back to the two days prior, when the volunteers gathered at the new station for an additional training session.   Some of the volunteers on that truck were the same volunteers at the training, who were once again taking time away from their paid jobs, to ensure their neighbors and employers have access to the same emergency services that I take for granted living in the Boise metropolitan area. Read more »

Chefs on the Move to Help Improve Child Nutrition

Cross-posted from the Let’s Move! Blog:

Last June, First Lady Michelle Obama along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a call to action for chefs across the nation to join the battle against childhood obesity. The program, called Chefs Move to Schools, helps to partner chefs with local schools in their communities as part of the Let’s Move! initiative.  Since June, we have seen chefs and schools across the country form new friendships and develop delicious meals in an effort to improve nutrition. Read more »

Mc Kinney’s Minshew Elementary School Achieves Gold in USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge

Students at Minshew Elementary School celebrated the receipt of the gold award in the HealthierUS School Challenge by singing about healthy foods.

Students at Minshew Elementary School celebrated the receipt of the gold award in the HealthierUS School Challenge by singing about healthy foods.

On December 16, I had the privilege of visiting McKinney, Texas to recognize Minshew Elementary School for achieving gold in the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge. I presented the award to the school at an assembly with the students, the Mayor and the district superintendent.   I also had the pleasure to meet and congratulate the cafeteria staff and others on their achievement.  The children at the school performed a dance routine and invited the adults to join them.  I danced so much that I got my workout for the day!  It was wonderful to see the children exercise and have fun at the same time. Read more »

A Northern Wisconsin Community Opens a Shelter for Victims of Domestic Abuse Thanks to USDA and Community Funding Support

The time had come for a community to see what it has built when the Household Abuse Victims Emergency Network (HAVEN, Inc.) recently celebrated the grand opening of their new Domestic Abuse Shelter and Office Facility in the northern Wisconsin community of Merrill.

The newly renovated building will provide improved confidentiality and security, more office space and better facilities for staff to meet with clients. The larger shelter includes six bedrooms with a total of 24 beds, more bathrooms, a large new kitchen designed for convenient use by multiple residents, better laundry facilities, and is handicapped accessible. There is also a large living and dining area for residents, a children’s play room and a teen room. The lower level includes a room which can be used for groups or meetings. Read more »

Touring Healthy Schools in Chicago

Christie Vilsack samples a healthy, made-to-order salad from Von Steuben High School’s revamped cafeteria line.

Christie Vilsack samples a healthy, made-to-order salad from Von Steuben High School’s revamped cafeteria line.

School nutrition folks in Chicago have been busy. Last May, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and locally-based Healthy Schools Campaign launched the city’s Go for the Gold campaign. The effort seeks to have 100 city schools qualify for USDA’s HealthierUS Challenge gold award. As part of that announcement, CPS revised its food menus and made other changes, as well. Read more »

Hemlock Hybrids Could Reverse Decline in Landscapers’ Favorite

USDA scientists Susan Bentz and Richard Olsen examine bagged branches of hybrid hemlocks inoculated with hemlock woolly adelgid as part of field tests of the hybrids’ tolerance to the Asian pest.

USDA scientists Susan Bentz and Richard Olsen examine bagged branches of hybrid hemlocks inoculated with hemlock woolly adelgid as part of field tests of the hybrids’ tolerance to the Asian pest.

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

For nearly 60 years, a relentless Asian insect with a silly-sounding name–the hemlock woolly adelgid, or HWA–has chomped a deadly swath through 17 northeastern states, portions of Canada and the Appalachian Mountains, literally sucking the life out of native hemlock trees. Read more »