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Feeding Hungry Kids in the Summer? It’s a No Brainer!

Catholic Charities in Chicago is just one of many organizations that has committed to serving thousands of kids nutritious meals this summer through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Recently, FNS staff visited Catholic Charities headquarters in Chicago and met with Angel Gutierrez.

Mr. Gutierrez, Vice-President of Community Development and Outreach Services, shared a bit about their program operations and why they are committed to expanding to serve more hungry kids in the Chicago area. Watch this video clip to learn about how they have used the program to feed children and create jobs in the process.  Catholic Charities is one of many organizations working with Let’s Move! Faith and Communities to expand the number of SFSP sites this summer. Not to spoil the video, but in the summer of 2010 alone, they were able to serve 12,040 different children. Quite a summer! Read more »

USDA Hosts Webinar Watch Events Across the Country to Feed Hungry Kids this Summer

With one out of every four Latino families struggling to put food on the table, congregations and community-based organizations need all the help they can get in meeting this challenge. That is why USDA hosted Hispanic pastors in cities across the country for webinar watch events on the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) partnered with USDA’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Food and Nutrition Service to hold viewings in California, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Washington, DC. The webinars are one of many ways USDA is engaging faith-based, Hispanic-serving organizations to participate in USDA’s nutrition assistance programs. Feeding kids through the Summer Food Service Program is particularly important: 21 million children receive free or reduced school lunches during the year, but only 3.4 million kids are fed meals over the summer through USDA summer feeding programs. Read more »

A Nebraska Library Observes Earth Day with Energy Efficiency Improvements

Energy savings was the theme for the Earth Day event held with Garfield County in Burwell, Nebraska in April.  Rural residents gathered at the Garfield County Library with USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul and staff.  Garfield County was presented with a plaque from Rural Development for securing the funding needed to acquire a more efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) unit for the Library that serves more than 1,900 rural residents.

USDA Rural Development provided funding that was leveraged with funds from Garfield County and the Friends of the Garfield County Library to replace the old heating and cooling units with a more efficient HVAC system consisting of three new 13 air conditioners and heat pumps with backup heaters.  The improvements will help the overall budget of the Library through the energy savings. Read more »

Colorado Officials Meet with USDA Business Programs Administrator to Discuss Renewable Energy Opportunities

Attendees at the recent “Building a Sustainable Renewable Energy Program for the 21st Century” conference in Denver, Colorado, participated in discussions about how renewable energy opportunities could create new jobs and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. Among those in attendance was USDA Rural Development Business Programs Administrator Judy Canales.

The event began with a luncheon presentation from Greg Krissek, ICM, Director of Government Affairs and Jim Imbler, ZeaChem, Chief Executive Officer.  Krissek’s presentation to the group focused on the ethanol and biofuels industry.  Krissek has been in the business for 11 years and currently oversees 102 plants with 6.5 billion gallons of ethanol production per year.    He noted that America needs to take what we have learned from first generation biofuels and build on it through adding cellulosic changes to the process.  Imbler focused his discussion on new technology in biorefinery development and in particular a cellulose-based biorefinery platform that could be capable of producing advanced ethanol, fuels and chemicals.  The company is headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado.  They currently operate a research and development laboratory facility in Menlo Park, California and have a 250,000 gallon per year cellulosic biorefinery under construction in Boardman, Oregon. Read more »

U.S. Wine Exports to Canada Increase Amid Strong Trade Relations

Maryanne Wedner, of Grgich Hills Estates, was one of many representatives showcasing their vintages at the California Wine Fair in Ottawa.

Maryanne Wedner, of Grgich Hills Estates, was one of many representatives showcasing their vintages at the California Wine Fair in Ottawa.

The United States and Canada have maintained a strong trade relationship over the years, sharing signature products from both countries. In 2010, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada were valued at $16.8 billion. Geographical proximity, similar business practices and eating habits make Canada an attractive export market for new-to-export and new-to-market U.S. companies. Canadians often travel to the United States, developing a taste for our regional flavors, including California wine. Read more »

Environmental Benefits Flow Downstream

Every year a low-oxygen, or hypoxic, area forms in the northern Gulf of Mexico, just below the mouth of the Mississippi River. Fish and other wildlife often avoid hypoxic zones, which can be deadly to marine organisms. Known contributors to the Gulf’s hypoxic zone include runoff from urban areas, land development and agriculture.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works with farmers and ranchers to help reduce agricultural runoff that may contribute to the hypoxic zone, in part through the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). Read more »