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USDA Forest Service Helping to take Sting out of Bugs

How do you turn biting, stinging, pantry raiding, picnic ruining pests into pollinating, irrigating, aerating, fertilizing, ecosystem balancing helpers? … By educating as many people as possible about the role of bugs in the environment.

One of the responsibilities of the U.S. Forest Service is to inform the public about the value of insects in helping to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands.

With many people either afraid of or grossed out by bugs, changing their negative image is a challenge. However, a partnership between the Forest Service Southern Research Station and Kent House, in Alexandria, La., is demonstrating a growing public interest in insects. Read more »

Chicago Celebrates “Go for the Gold” in Food and Fitness

How many mascots does it take to turn a school assembly into a celebration?  Well, on June 7, not one, not two, but a total of SEVEN mascots rocked the Chicago Public Schools’ “Go for the Gold” HealthierUS School Challenge celebration at Walsh Elementary School. Three major Chicago sports teams sent their mascots to delight the kids and support the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. Benny the Bull of the Chicago Bulls, Staley Da Bear (Chicago Bears) and DIBS (De Paul University Blue Demons basketball) brought down the house, with Benny shooting a basket from clear across the gym and Staley and DIBS battling it out on the drums.

Joining the merriment were USDA’s Power Panther and three mascots from Chartwells Hospitality (CPS school meals provider). Univision TV reporter Enrique Rodriguez and emcee extraordinaire kept the mascots on their toes and had the entire gym shouting “Eat Smart…Play Hard…Let’s Move!…Go for the Gold!” Read more »

Listening to Business Leaders from York, PA

On Friday afternoon, I sat down with business leaders from York County, Pennsylvania to get their input on how the Federal government can work with them to improve economic conditions and create jobs.  Among the participants were members of the York Area Chamber of Commerce, as well as representatives from marketing, computer technology, and renewable energy manufacturing industries.

The session, the most recent in an ongoing series of White House Business Council meetings, was hosted by Alan Shortall, CEO of Unilife Corporation, a manufacturer and supplier of advanced safety medical syringes.   Have you heard people talk about companies moving off-shore to China?  Well, Alan told the reverse tale, as he kicked off our meeting.  His company moved their manufacturing operation from China to the United States because of our high-end engineering expertise, which Alan argued, is an unmatched core competency of the United States.   Since it set up shop in Pennsylvania in 2006, Unilife has employed 200 people and this number is expected to double by 2015.  Not only are these good jobs and critical to the economy of York, but Alan said he will be spending at least $40 million on US purchases of equipment in the next year.  Now, that’s stimulus! Read more »

USDA Works with Partners to Feed Children in the Summer Months

On June 9th, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service kicked off the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) — “Food That’s In When School Is Out”, in Atlanta by visiting the Marietta Community Center in Marietta, Georgia as part of USDA’s first ever National SFSP Celebration Week. The Center provided free meals and a nutrition class on the new USDA MyPlate to 50 wonderful children, as feeding kids during the summer can pose a challenge to some parents when school meals are no longer available.

Although the SFSP program is completely dedicate to helping kids during the summer, when they are most vulnerable to experiencing hunger because school is out, our participation rate on this program is only 17%, but USDA is doing everything it can to get more meals to children during the summer months. We need to be sure that every child who should be receiving a summer meal gets one because no child should ever be going hungry. Although our National School Lunch Program is serving more than 21 million children during the school year, we are only serving 3 million children through SFSP, so clearly there is still a long way to go in reaching all the children who are eligible for this program, and we need everyone’s help to pitch in. Read more »

El USDA colabora con sus Socios Para Alimentar a los Niños Durante los Meses de Verano

El 9 de junio, el Servicio de Alimentos y Nutrición inauguró en Atlanta la campaña “Alimentos disponibles durante el receso del año escolar” del Programa de Servicio de Alimentos de Verano (SFSP) con una visita al centro comunitario Marietta Community Center de Marietta, Georgia como parte de la celebración de la primera Semana Nacional del programa SFSP del USDA. El centro sirvió comidas gratuitas y dio una clase de nutrición sobre el nuevo concepto MiPlato del USDA a 50 maravillosos niños. Alimentar a los niños durante los meses de verano puede presentar un reto para algunos padres, ya que las comidas escolares no están disponibles.

El programa SFSP está dedicado a ayudar a los niños durante el verano, cuando están más vulnerables al hambre porque no asisten a la escuela. Sin embargo, nuestra tasa de participación en el programa es únicamente el 17%. Por eso, el USDA está realizando todo esfuerzo posible por hacer llegar alimentos a más niños durante los meses de verano. Tenemos que asegurar que cada niño que califique para recibir comidas durante el verano lo haga, porque los niños nunca deben sufrir hambre. Aunque nuestro Programa Nacional de Almuerzos Escolares atiende a más de 21 millones de niños durante la temporada escolar, atendemos únicamente a 3 millones de niños mediante el programa de verano SFSP. Claramente, eso significa que nos queda mucho por hacer para llegar a todos los niños que reúnen los requisitos para participar en este programa, y que necesitamos la ayuda de todos para lograrlo. Read more »

Coast To Coast National GO Day Events Occurred In Support Of Let’s Move Outside

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

The U.S. Forest Service and community partners have been encouraging children and their families across the country to spend time reconnecting with nature, trying new recreation activities and just having some good fun. The effort is called National Get Outdoors Day, or GO Day.

The Forest Service has a bounty of children’s programs to help connect children to their natural environment, all of which support two key priorities of the Obama administration: President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative that seeks to connect people to the outdoors and creates partnerships between the federal government and American communities on conservation issues; and the Let’s Move! Outside campaign launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, which strives to offset childhood obesity through outdoor activities and healthier lifestyles. The agency also has collaborated with the Ad Council to develop a new public service announcement called “Unplug,” which is part of Discover the Forest campaign. Nationwide, more than 80 Forest Service locations will be providing free recreational and educational activities. Many events are designed to better engage urban and multicultural youth in nature-based activities and attract first-time visitors to public lands. Read more »