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Got (Enough) Vitamin D?

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

April, the springboard to warm, sunny weather, is National Minority Health Month—a good time to focus on the sun, vitamin D insufficiency for African-Americans, and the ways that monitoring its intake have improved.

Vitamin D is primarily produced by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. However, African-Americans have more melanin in their skin, resulting in the reduction of the body’s ability to make the vitamin from sun exposure. Read more »

Michigan Earth Team Volunteer Enjoys Giving Back

Twice a week, Susan Anderson volunteers a morning or afternoon at the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Big Rapids, Mich. She calls it “giving back.” As a member of NRCS’ Earth Team, the agency’s volunteer workforce, Anderson assists clients, files and helps staff inventory and analyze the resource concerns of area farmers and landowners.

Anderson started volunteering with NRCS seven years ago, shortly after retiring from the Michigan Department of Education, where she was director of School Support Services, with statewide responsibilities and a budget of $500 million a year. She administered Michigan’s non-academic education programs, including child nutrition, food distribution, drivers’ education and pupil transportation. Read more »

Fresh from the Garden

I get to learn about a lot of great local initiatives when I make visits around the country.  On a recent trip to Dallas, I visited Metrocrest Social Services, a community resource agency in Farmers Branch, Texas, that provides services to families in crisis and helps them make plans for the future. The purpose of the visit was to learn how outreach workers from the North Texas Food Bank come to this office to assist clients submit applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Camilla Zimbal, social services director, gave me a tour of the agency, and showed me some of the other services available to clients. One of the highlights of this one-stop shop is a food pantry at which pantry clients may select groceries once a week. In addition to the canned and boxed food, they can also select fresh-from-the-garden fruit and vegetables. Read more »