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SNAP – A Bridge to Success

It’s no secret that participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has experienced significant growth over the past 10 years.  In fact, the December 2011 participation showed that 46.5 million people received SNAP benefits.

What has caused these increases?  During 2011, the increases were primarily due to unemployment and more people in need as well as those recovering from natural disasters such as Hurricane Irene and tropical storm Lee who are receiving SNAP disaster benefits.  SNAP was designed for just such situations.  It expands to meet needs of families during tough economic times and contracts as circumstances improve.  As the economy continues to improve and add jobs, families who are now struggling to put food on the table will no longer need assistance. Read more »

USDA is set to Turbo-Charge Telework Week 2012

Did you know that the average DC commuter spends an average of 5.5 hrs each week stuck in traffic and that Americans around the country who commute to work emit approximately 1 ton of pollutants each year?

Telework helps to keep our skies blue and our roads open- all while still continuing to perform the important work we do each and every day at the Department of Agriculture.

And how important that is for all of us as USDA employees who work so hard to support the conservation of our natural resources, the preservation of our National forests and wildlife- not to mention to sustain our country’s agricultural production.  By virtue of our commitment to USDA, to the American public who we serve and to our families and communities- we should all be committed to finding effective and efficient ways to work. Read more »

Rock Keyboardist and Grammy Winner Chuck Leavell Becomes an Honorary Forest Service Ranger

Chuck Leavell, a strong champion of sustainable forest management, has received many accolades for his support of forestry and conservation issues. He has turned his Charlane Plantation into a textbook tree farm. Photo credit:  Photo provided courtesy of Chuck Leavell

Chuck Leavell, a strong champion of sustainable forest management, has received many accolades for his support of forestry and conservation issues. He has turned his Charlane Plantation into a textbook tree farm. Photo credit: Photo provided courtesy of Chuck Leavell

Chuck Leavell may be known as the legendary keyboardist for the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers Band, but he’s just as proud of being a champion for tree stewardship and sustainable forest management.   His conservation ethic, his forest advocacy and his personal stewardship of Charlane Plantation near Macon, Ga., were recognized Feb. 27 when the U.S. Forest Service proclaimed him an honorary forest ranger. Read more »

Welcome to National Nutrition Month! And Start Marking your Calendar!

Katherine Tallmadge, DCMADA President, and Sarah Fisher, DCMADA PR Representative and the elementary students from DCPS schools (District of Columbia Public Schools), on Food Day.

Katherine Tallmadge, DCMADA President, and Sarah Fisher, DCMADA PR Representative and the elementary students from DCPS schools (District of Columbia Public Schools), on Food Day.

Join Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on March 8th in celebrating “What’s on My Plate?” Day and help raise public awareness of the importance of choosing nutritious foods for a healthy meal. If you haven’t already joined the network, become one of almost 6,000 of USDA’s MyPlate Community and National Strategic Partners, all of which are committed to promoting a diet that reflects the latest recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and highlights the message behind the new MyPlate food icon. Be sure to put MyPlate into action by taking a photo of your healthful plates to share on Twitter with the hash-tag #MyPlate. Read more »

New Farmers Benefit from Ag Census

Renee Picanso, NASS Census and Survey Division Director

Renee Picanso, NASS Census and Survey Division Director

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.

This is National Agriculture Week, an annual event that gives us a chance to honor the 3 million plus farmers and ranchers across the United States who work hard each day so that we have healthy and nutritious food on our plates. From the last Census of Agriculture in 2007, we learned that the number of farmers is actually growing. But how do we know that USDA is keeping pace with their needs? Read more »

USDA Holds Cross-Departmental Discussion to Encourage Mentoring and STEM Literacy

National CARES Mentoring Movement founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine, Susan Taylor (red coat), met for a cross-departmental discussion with Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy personnel in the Whitten Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.  This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to recruiting and connecting mentors with local youth and mentoring organizations to help guide under-resourced children to academic and social success across the country. This discussion provided a continuation of the White House Policy in Action conference that took place in November 2011.  The focus of the discussion was about how existing federal programs and administration priorities can be leveraged with her organization, especially as it relates to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy, education and rural youth.  USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

National CARES Mentoring Movement founder and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine, Susan Taylor (red coat), met for a cross-departmental discussion with Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy personnel in the Whitten Building, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, February 28, 2012. This not-for-profit organization is dedicated to recruiting and connecting mentors with local youth and mentoring organizations to help guide under-resourced children to academic and social success across the country. This discussion provided a continuation of the White House Policy in Action conference that took place in November 2011. The focus of the discussion was about how existing federal programs and administration priorities can be leveraged with her organization, especially as it relates to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy, education and rural youth. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture held a cross-departmental discussion focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) literacy with Susan Taylor of the National CARES Mentoring Network. Susan Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Essence magazine, founded the National CARES Mentoring Network while spending time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  While in New Orleans, Susan said that she learned that over 50% of African American fourth graders are functionally illiterate. Susan came to USDA to explain the need for literacy training and other academic enrichment support for under-resourced children in low-income families in order to help students develop a broad range of 21st century literacy skills. Read more »