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Interactive Web Tool Maps Food Deserts, Provides Key Data

Map in the ERS Food Desert Locator showing the location of food deserts in downtown St. Louis, with  popup window displaying detailed information for a specific tract

Map in the ERS Food Desert Locator showing the location of food deserts in downtown St. Louis, with popup window displaying detailed information for a specific tract

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Ensuring that Americans eat well and lead healthy lives is among our greatest goals at USDA.  First Lady Michelle Obama, of course, has taken an important role on this front – leading a national conversation and administration-wide effort.  As part of the Lets Move! initiative USDA is taking on the challenge of food deserts.  These nutritional wastelands exist across America in both urban and rural communities where parents and children simply do not have access to a supermarket. Read more »

Study Shows Mangroves are a Major Player in Climate Change

The hidden beauty of a mangrove forest.

The hidden beauty of a mangrove forest.

Mangroves have declined by nearly half in the last 50 years. This is disconcerting to scientists because the hardy brackish tidal tree in an important bulkhead against climate change, according to findings is a recent study published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Read more »

Secretary Vilsack Tours Tornado Damage in Mississippi, Says USDA Rural Development Programs Can Help in Recovery Efforts

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Obama Administration Cabinet members Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, as well as Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate, Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills, and other state and local officials to tour areas in Alabama and Mississippi affected by last week’s tornadoes.

After visiting devastated sites in Birmingham and nearby areas, the group crossed over to Mississippi, where they surveyed the damage done to Smithville, a town of approximately 1000 that was almost literally wiped off the map. Read more »

In Mississippi, Merrigan Plants Seeds That Will Grow Young Minds

In a two-day span, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan may have changed the lives of up to 2,000 young Mississippians.

Recently, Deputy Secretary Merrigan brought an outstanding presentation on the future of agriculture to the campuses of Mississippi’s two land grant universities: Mississippi State University in Starkville; and Alcorn State University in Lorman. Each presentation was attended by hundreds of people — mostly students who left enlightened about the world that waited for them in the wide arena of agriculture. Read more »

Champions of Change: Autrey Mill Middle School Cooking Club

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

On Wednesday, April 20, I was notified that I had received a Champions of Change award and was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with Administration officials and several chefs and nutritionist specialists. We were asked to discuss the healthy schools initiative, the Chefs Move to Schools project and what we were doing in our communities.

I was excited to receive the award and the invitation and headed to Washington, D.C. The Chefs Move to Schools program began June 2010, when The First Lady invited chefs to get involved with schools to help students make healthier choices in eating, learn what healthier choices are, plan and plant gardens, work with school cafeterias–whatever might make a difference in children’s eating habits. Read more »