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From Food Trucks to Text Messages – Fighting Hunger in New York City

Northeast Regional Administrator, James Arena-DeRosa serves a meal from the NYC food truck at Orchard Beach in the Bronx.

Northeast Regional Administrator, James Arena-DeRosa serves a meal from the NYC food truck at Orchard Beach in the Bronx.

For most children, summertime means school vacation, family trips and beach days, but for many, it also means losing the two free or reduced-price meals provided at school. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Managing our Forests to Drive Job Growth

Every day, the Department of Agriculture is hard at work to strengthen the rural economy and grow our rural communities.

Right now we continue to focus on responding to the drought that’s impacting much of our nation. My thoughts remain with those who are affected, and President Obama and I will continue doing all we can to help. Unfortunately the disaster programs contained in the 2008 Farm Bill have already expired, leaving us with limited tools – and the House of Representatives still has not passed a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, or any other drought assistance.

The Obama Administration continues to call on Congress to give USDA the tools it needs to help those impacted by drought. Read more »

USDA Support Helps Rosebud Sioux Tribal Community Construct a Key Building

A building that will stand against natural disaster for the safety of the Corn Creek District, Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota, is being partially funded through a grant from USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Economic Impact Initiative (EII).  While providing a safe haven for the residents, the community building will also provide a space for health care and emergency services and a facility for community youth.

If a community building is going to offer so much in integral services for the area, it should also be energy efficient.  The foam forms for the walls will be filled with concrete and will add greatly to the insulation and temperature control of the building. Read more »

Elusive, Threatened Gopher Tortoise Spotted Laying Eggs in Alabama

Gopher tortoise laying eggs on freshly cultivated field.

Gopher tortoise laying eggs on freshly cultivated field.

Gopher tortoises are fairly elusive creatures. Usually the only sign you see of them is their burrows or ravaged foliage.

But recently a Mobile, Ala., tortoise allowed Marshall Colburn, a Soil Conservation Technician with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a rare, up-close-and-personal moment as she laid her eggs in a freshly cultivated field. Read more »

History and Research Converge in American Chestnut Reintroduction

You may start out wanting to talk to Leila Pinchot about a U.S. Forest Service icon, but the great granddaughter of Gifford Pinchot has much more to say about the future of another legend, the American chestnut.

One of the seminal figures in world conservation, Gifford Pinchot founded and served as the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service. The eastern forests we know today are distinctly different than the forests Gifford Pinchot would have known 100 years ago – they are missing the American chestnut, which dominated forests in the eastern United States.

Once called the sequoia of the east, the massive tree grew fast and could reach heights of 140 feet. American chestnut not only provided a seemingly endless supply of rot resistant wood, its fruit also fed inhabitants of the eastern United States for millennia. A non-native fungus caused the chestnut blight that killed an estimated 4 billion trees by the middle of the 20th century. Read more »