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Celebrating the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act Two Years Later

It’s been two years since President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law. The Act cleared the way for historic improvements to the child nutrition programs, such as school lunch and school breakfast, that serve millions of our nation’s children. We’ve already implemented many provisions of the Act, with many schools reporting success in meeting the new standards, and students finding the new school meals to be an improvement from the status quo. This coming year will be a busy one as we continue to make program updates that help us fight both child hunger and obesity.

Because of the Act, we’ve been able to improve standards for the content of school lunches—and soon school breakfasts— making them healthier than ever before. However, I know implementation is a process that takes time, and as the school year progresses we will continue listening and providing additional education, technical assistance, and flexibilities where appropriate. Throughout this first year, we are closely monitoring implementation and adapting the support we provide to States and schools based on challenges that arise.

We also made the first real reimbursement rate increase for those meals in 30 years to help schools adjust to the changes. Because we know how influential the school environment can be when it comes to encouraging kids to make healthy choices, USDA will propose new standards for other foods sold in schools including in vending machines. Read more »

Detallitos en inocuidad alimentaria para llenar las medias festivas de tus cocineros favoritos

Hoy en día, todo el mundo es un sabelotodo en alimentos, o proclama ser un experto en todo lo relacionado a la comida. Para agregar a la multitud de recomendaciones para regalos de cocina que muchas páginas cibernéticas han creado durante este mes, la Línea de Información sobre Carnes y Aves del USDA ha copilado una lista de productos de cocina que podrían ser my prácticos y esenciales, y muchos de ellos son lo suficientemente pequeños como para rellenar  medias festivas o canastas de regalo. Lo mejor es que estos aparatos aseguran que la persona le pueda devolver el detalle al cocinar esos asados (ahumados o merengues) adecuadamente durante las fiestas o por todo el año. Read more »

Five Times Fast: Food Safety Gifts for Festive Foodies

These days, it seems everyone knows (or is) a foodie, a self-proclaimed guru of all things edible.  To add to the myriad of “foodie gift guides” shopping sites have created this month, the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline has put together a list of inexpensive kitchen essentials, most of which are small enough to fit inside a stocking or gourmet gift basket. The best part: these gadgets ensure the giftee will return the gesture with perfectly and safely roasted (or braised, smoked, flambéed…) treats this holiday season and year-round. Read more »

Make It Fun!

Powell Kids Pulling Beets: Students eagerly pulled out plants and were surprised at what they found! (in this case, turnips)

Powell Kids Pulling Beets: Students eagerly pulled out plants and were surprised at what they found! (in this case, turnips)

As fall was quickly turning into winter, we chose a brisk day in early November to close out gardening season with all of the students at Powell Elementary. Together, along with staff from the NHL’s Washington Capitals and USDA Executive Master Gardeners, we organized a harvest and “Salad Party” so all grades could pick ingredients for and create a salad with what they’d grown. We also used this day to maintain the Habitat Garden in the form of weeding, planting natives, mulching, and rebuilding paths. We were successful in both activities, putting the Habitat Garden “to bed” in celebration of Keep America Beautiful’s National Planting Day, and throwing one heck of a salad party. Read more »

USDA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Enter into Agreement to Improve Drought Weather Forecasting

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the McIntosh family farm in Missouri Valley, Iowa, on Monday, August 13, 2012 to view the drought stricken crops. The federal government has already taken some steps to ease farmers whose crops are growing poorly this summer, and the administration plans to spend close to $200 million on livestock, officials announced earlier in the day. The Department of Defense is encouraging vendors to buy meat to ease the crisis. USDA photo by Dave Kosling.

USDA and other federal agencies continue to work to address the long term effects of last summer’s historic drought.

In the wake of a series of regional drought conferences with farmers, ranchers, business owners and other stakeholders, USDA is entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Commerce, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to improve sharing of data and expertise, monitoring networks, and drought forecasting efforts.  The MOU is a direct outcome of the regional conferences. Read more »

What’s Next for Agriculture? Secretary Vilsack Wants to Hear from You!

Ask Secretary Vilsack questions about emerging opportunities in agriculture using the hashtag #AskUSDA

Ask Secretary Vilsack questions about emerging opportunities in agriculture using the hashtag #AskUSDA

Last week we asked why young Americans should care about the Farm Bill by inviting you to use social media to help tell the story about what is at stake in your lives and communities. The response has been overwhelming! We read tweets from aspiring young scientists about the importance of the Farm Bill to their career. We received messages from business owners looking for ways to keep their family farms in the family for future generations. In fact, we were so struck by your feedback online, we thought that the best person to answer your questions and address your concerns would be Secretary Vilsack himself! Read more »