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Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley Sponsors 25 Feeding Sites this Summer

On May 26, I got to go back home to the Rio Grande Valley – the southernmost region in the continental United States – to help promote new sites for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The SFSP provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to help children in low-income neighborhoods get the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow, throughout the summer months when they are out of school.

My agency, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, along with our state partner, the Texas Department of Agriculture, collaborated with local leaders from the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley to bring SFSP feeding sites to the area, where unemployment figures are the highest in Texas and many families struggle to make ends meet. Read more »

How MyPlate Becomes Your Plate

#MyPlate photo by @UarewhatUeat

#MyPlate photo by @UarewhatUeat

Last Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary Vilsack, and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin unveiled the Department of Agriculture’s newest food icon, MyPlate. A simple visual cue, MyPlate is intended to remind Americans to think about building a healthy plate for every meal. That message includes making half of your plate fruits and vegetables, and balancing lean proteins with whole grains and fat-free and lowfat dairy. And while the icon itself serves as a helpful reminder of how to build a plate, we couldn’t wait to see how you would turn MyPlate into your plate. Read more »

Let’s Move! in Indian Country Launches on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin

A Menominee girl enjoys the sackrace fun with her classmate friends.

A Menominee girl enjoys the sackrace fun with her classmate friends.

More than 300 children joined the First Lady’s Office and other administration officials recently for the launch of Let’s Move! in Indian Country (LMIC) on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. The event took place at the Keshena Woodland Bowl, where the children played and exercised outdoors after tribal leaders welcomed the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Office, White House Domestic Policy Council, and the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services. Read more »

North Dakota Community Gathering Celebrates a New Fire Hall, Funded With Support from USDA

A crowd gathered last Sunday in the community of Almont, North Dakota, to celebrate the completion of the new fire and ambulance hall.  The weather was perfect for the firefighters to grill burgers and play music for all to enjoy.  The ceremony started with Frank Melchoir, Almont Rural Fire District’s president, recognizing all the partners who made the project possible.  Members of the rural community had generously donated money and land for the new, modern facility.  USDA Rural Development was also a crucial player providing a grant and loan

Jasper Schneider, USDA Rural Development State Director, addressed the crowd expressing the critical importance of timely emergency services.  “Seconds matter in emergency situations, it could mean the difference in saving the building or, more importantly, a life,” said Schneider.  He continued by thanking the volunteers for their service and heroic efforts and also congratulated them on their dedication in making this project happen. Read more »

USDA in Ohio Hosts Flex-Fuel Event to Encourage Applications for Renewable Energy Projects

Last month, USDA Rural Development in Ohio hosted another event in the “Flexible Fuels Roadshow” aimed at broadening awareness of Secretary Vilsack’s objective of deploying 10,000 flexible fuel pumps into the nation’s motor fuel delivery system by 2015. As part of USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), eligible applicants can now apply for funding for flex-fuel pumps, in addition to other energy producing and saving projects.  For the first time, gas station and convenience store operators across the country can qualify for a package of REAP funding to support the purchase and installation of flex-fuel pumps and related infrastructure.

According to Rural Business-Cooperative Administrator Judith Canales, grants are available to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install flexible fuel pumps that offer Americans more renewable energy options. She wanted to make certain that everyone is aware of the variety of assistance USDA Rural Development provides to help businesses create jobs and become more energy efficient. This assistance builds on the Obama Administration’s commitment to win the future by ensuring the nation develops innovative ways to meet our future energy needs. Read more »

Land O’Lakes Providing Food Aid, Ensuring Food Security In Zambia

It was quite an active week as I represented the USDA at the 10th annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum.  While in Zambia, I had the opportunity to see firsthand a USDA-funded food assistance program in action.  This included a Local and Regional Procurement (LRP) Pilot Project that is providing monthly food baskets to households impacted by HIV/AIDS.  LRP is designed to use local and regional purchasing to help meet urgent food needs in developing countries and in areas faced with food crises and disasters.

The Zambia Local and Regional Procurement Program (ZLRP) is a yearlong project providing nutritional food to nearly 10,000 rural households that care for orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia’s Chongwe, Chibombo and Mumbwa districts. Land O’Lakes is working with World Vision to implement the project with USDA funding. The food these households receive allows them to leave their crops in the ground until they are fully ready to harvest, and thus are more nutritious.  This in turn enables the families more time and energy to pursue other activities to improve their livelihoods and quality of life. Read more »