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Capitol Christmas Tree lights Nation’s Capital

A 63-foot Sierra white fir from the Stanislaus National Forest in California was lit as the 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree during a ceremony Dec. 6 on the west front lawn of the Capitol. The Christmas tree is adorned with about 3,000 ornaments, all homemade by California residents, and 10,000 energy-efficient lights. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

A 63-foot Sierra white fir from the Stanislaus National Forest in California was lit as the 2011 Capitol Christmas Tree during a ceremony Dec. 6 on the west front lawn of the Capitol. The Christmas tree is adorned with about 3,000 ornaments, all homemade by California residents, and 10,000 energy-efficient lights. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

About one week after its arrival to Washington, D.C., the Capitol Christmas Tree flashed its 10,000 lights and dazzled onlookers on the west front lawn of the Capitol Dec. 6. Read more »

Making the Right Connections in New Mexico

The No Kid Hungry New Mexico Campaign, an initiative of the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger, is gaining partners and momentum.  The campaign is less than a year old, but already progress has been made on the 2011 goals: Increasing participation in the summer meals program, school breakfast, and SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  It’s so important to connect eligible people with the federal nutrition safety net.  And that is exactly what Share Our Strength and its partners are doing in New Mexico and across the nation to end childhood hunger.

Part of the No Kid Hungry New Mexico campaign centers on school breakfast, an area of special interest to me. I can see the potential to reach more children just by changing the way breakfast is offered to students. A healthy breakfast makes a big impact on a child’s well being – physically and mentally.  That translates to better attentiveness, performance and behavior in school, too.   This method also eliminates the stigma for low-income children of coming to school early for a free breakfast in the cafeteria. And many children simply can’t get to school before the first bell. Read more »

Scientists Saving Our World

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

In the 1920s, U.S. Navy recruiting posters exhorted young men to “Join the Navy and see the world!”  If USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) chose a similar slogan, it would probably be, “Join ARS and change the world!” Read more »

Preventing Hunger and Protecting Taxpayers: Our Renewed Efforts to Combat SNAP Fraud

SNAP EBT cards

SNAP EBT cards

In recent years, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – formerly known as food stamps – has demonstrated an exceptional record in program integrity and stewardship of taxpayer dollars.  The program currently serves as a bridge to success for over 46 million Americans who are at risk of being hungry when they face challenging economic times. More than half of those who rely on the program are children, elderly or the disabled, and many participants are newly unemployed and never thought they would be living in poverty. The program has never been more important and neither has the need to be a good steward of its dollars.  In this vein, President Obama and Vice President Biden launched the Administration’s new Campaign to Cut Waste in government spending in June to eliminate misspent tax dollars and USDA strongly supports this effort. Read more »

Challenge Builds Positive Relationship between Louisiana Black Farming Community and FSA

When Mike Sullivan met a 30-year-old beginning farmer, he never thought it would launch a relationship that would influence an entire African-American farming community in the Cane River region of Louisiana.

“Sometimes good things can come out of a not-so-good situation,” said Sullivan, farm loan manager in the Natchitoches Farm Service Agency (FSA).

That’s what happened the day Thomas Roque, Jr., walked into the Natchitoches FSA County Office. Roque was hoping to get a loan to purchase calves to raise and sell for profit on his family’s 800-acre farm, purchased by his great-great grandparents in 1916. But things didn’t work out as easily as he hoped. Read more »

Wildlife Services’ Program Feeds the Hungry

USDA sponsors many great programs like the “Feds Feed Families” employee food drive, gleaning fruit from research farms, and harvesting vegetables from the People’s Gardens to provide food for the hungry.  The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services (WS) program has taken a unique approach to feeding the hungry.  Last year in the Eastern Region, WS donated more than 74 tons of venison to food banks and charitable organizations.  WS employees are proud to be able to provide for those in need by utilizing these animals, which are lethally removed at the request of local individuals and agencies.

WS provides assistance when wildlife causes problems.  In this case, the venison was collected from white-tailed deer that were taken for safety and protection purposes.  The population of deer has grown from one-quarter million nationally in 1900 to more than 17 million today.  Some locations request WS to remove deer to prevent wildlife strikes at airports and vehicle-deer collisions.  When herds become locally over-abundant, populations also can mean damage to threatened and endangered plant species and to public and private property. Read more »