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An Advocate for Those in Need

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement on the passing of Senator George McGovern:

“Simply put, Senator George McGovern spent his life standing up for others. He honorably defended our nation during a time of war. He was a tremendous advocate for his home state of South Dakota and for all of rural America. He championed our efforts as a nation to help hungry people, especially children, around the world, leading the way on U.S. food assistance efforts that carry on today under his name and that of his friend, former Senator Bob Dole. As we honor Senator McGovern’s life, I know that his legacy will impact millions of people in the years to come – from the smallest South Dakota towns that he knew and loved, to countries in every corner of the globe.”

To watch former U.S. Senator George McGovern speak in a 1999 interview about what inspired him to work to end childhood hunger in America, please watch this video from the USDA archives. Read more »

Feeding Neighbors with Local Traditions

In many parts of the United States, the summer months are a time when food banks and pantries experience a higher demand alongside decreased donations.  As part of this past summer’s Feds Feed Families food drive, USDA employees in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, enthusiastically joined in the effort to help friends and neighbors struggling to put food on the table. The 28 members of the staff at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station include scientists, farmers and gardeners, as well as employees in supportive roles. As part of their research efforts, the USDA Tropical Research Center periodically harvests hundreds of pounds of green bananas at a time from experimental plots. Rather than let this healthy food go to waste, the office donates the bananas to a government-run nursing home in Mayaguez.  There the bananas are used to prepare traditional, local dishes.

Some of the dishes prepared with the donated bananas include pasteles, which are made from ground banana stuffed with meat or chicken, wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked.  Two other delicious dishes are bollitas, or small ground banana balls cooked with pigeon peas and served over rice, and serenata, a dish of boiled green banana served with codfish, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bananas are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium, are rich in Vitamins B6 and C, and make a delicious dessert or snack–just make sure to let them ripen first! Read more »

Regional Drought Workshop Held in Arkansas to Discuss Long Term Recovery Effort

Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs at the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, joined Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture V.O. “Butch” Calhoun, along with USDA and other federal, state and local officials on October 17th for a regional workshop to outline resources available to assist with drought recovery efforts.  The meeting was held at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff campus.

Over 150 participants, including stakeholders, discussed the drought’s effects on water quality and quantity, forestry, community and economic impacts, and agriculture and agribusiness.  Currently, more than two-thirds of the country is affected by the drought. Participants in the meeting offered thoughts on developing a new framework for cooperation among local, state and federal partners when it comes to drought recovery, and shared ideas about how to establish long-term relationships at all levels in these communities.  Collaboration, coordination and communication were the themes during the meeting. Read more »

Partnerships Bolster Nutrition Messaging through “Grain Chain” Videos

The USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) and its partners use a coordinated messaging approach to amplify the reach of themes and nutrition messages related to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Themes include Foods to Increase, Foods to Reduce, Balancing Calories, “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables” and “Avoid oversized portions.”

One recent example of this collaboration was in support of the message “Make at least half your grains whole grains.” Multiple national partners committed to promoting and supporting grains rallied together and formed a group known as the “Grain Chain.” Members included American Bakers Association, Wheat Foods Council, Grains Food Foundation, National Pasta Association, USA Rice Federation, General Mills, and Kellogg’s. The “Grain Chain” partnered to produce a series of educational “how-to” videos highlighting whole grains as well as a series of tasty recipes featuring whole grains. The videos are now available at Recipes coming soon! Read more »

#AskUSDA: A Conversation Between Gardeners

USDA Executive Master Gardener Dora Flores (IT & eGov Team for USDA-AMS) poses proudly with the HQ People's Garden weekly harvest, which she helped grow and pick.

USDA Executive Master Gardener Dora Flores (IT & eGov Team for USDA-AMS) poses proudly with the HQ People's Garden weekly harvest, which she helped grow and pick.

The arrival of fall doesn’t mean that garden season is over. In fact, the People’s Garden Initiative wants to keep the conversation growing! Throughout the growing season, People’s Garden staff and Executive Master Gardener volunteers at USDA Headquarters are asked hundreds of questions on the why, how, when and what of gardening. You too may be digging for answers on ways to turn your thumb a healthier shade of green. Read more »