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Resounding Spirit of Giving

The USDA Rural Development Center in Yankton, South Dakota is an active participant in the Yankton Mall’s Christmas Tree Gift –Away.  This is the second year they have donated a tree decorated with a USDA theme and kid friendly ornaments.

Business and individuals have donated 43 decorated Christmas trees on display at the mall, with votes for the best tree made through donated canned goods for the Yankton Contact Center.  Voting for the best tree was open through December 11, 2011.  With the assistance of the Contact Center, the trees are donated to needy families in the area. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Hunger And the Holidays

Like millions of Americans, I will join family and friends this holiday season to share meals, conversation and to count our blessings.  We’ll take a moment to thank the men and women in uniform serving our country overseas – and also those who produced the food on our tables.

During this time of celebration and good cheer, we should also look out for those less fortunate than we are.  This year at USDA, we provided critical nutrition assistance to one in four Americans during a time of record need.  But our work only goes so far.  That is why I want to encourage Americans to help fight hunger and poverty and to support those struggling to feed themselves and their families. Read more »

Turkey Tips for your Kitchen in Time for Thanksgiving

@USDAFoodSafety shares #trkytips in time for the holidays

It’s always nice to get a few extra hands in the kitchen, especially around the holidays. That was the idea behind Food Safety Inspection Service’s (FSIS) Thanksgiving Twitter Q&A with food safety experts from FSIS, FDA and celebrity chef Ingrid Hoffman. Read more »

Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth School Pilot Program

It may look like just another lunch at Hiawatha Elementary School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but these children are part of The People’s Garden School Pilot Project. The students at Hiawatha Elementary are among 4,000 youth in 57 schools in Iowa, Arkansas, New York, and Washington participating in Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth (HGHY), a project that will assess how school gardens influence students’ fruit and vegetable consumption.

The visit to Hiawatha was preceded by my participation in the Iowa Hunger Summit where we discussed steps to eliminate food insecurity in Iowa communities. What many people may not know is that hunger is fueled by poor nutrition. That’s why it’s so important that we focus both on promoting access to nutrition programs and greater access to a variety of fruits and vegetables. The school pilot projects are just one way we are accomplishing the latter. Read more »

South Dakota Regionalism Road Trip

It could be that the holiday season is approaching or winter weather in South Dakota, but three different regional meetings were held this last week highlighting differently funded projects.  The common theme to these projects is that South Dakota organizations and agencies have heard the call towards regional work to support rural economic development.

If you were in Bismarck, ND, on December 12th you could have attended the Upper Missouri Tribal Environmental Risk Mitigation (UM TERM) project kick off meeting.  This project was recently awarded $1.7 million as part of Obama Administration’s “Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge.”  This multi-agency collaboration supports the advancement of 20 high-growth, regional industry clusters in the upper Missouri River region of South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana.  Funding was provided by the agencies; US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, Economic Development Administration and Small Business Administration.  USDA Rural Development staff from both South Dakota and North Dakota was at the table to offer their assistance. Read more »