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No Más Hambre: A Community Call to Action

The NO MAS HAMBRE Summit recently held in Washington DC to raise awareness of hunger in the Latino community brought together government, nonprofit, corporate and community leaders to talk about solutions to an endemic problem that often goes unnoticed — nearly one in three Latino households with children faces hunger in this country.

At the same time, Latinos are disproportionately impacted by higher rates of childhood obesity, with almost 40 percent of Latino children overweight or obese.  This paradox of malnutrition and obesity is often misunderstood, so I was glad to moderate a panel at the conference on how faith-based organizations are partnering with USDA’s initiative La Mesa Completa and as part of Let’s Move Faith and Communities to address hunger and promote healthier communities. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Over the Holidays, Honoring Those Who Strengthen America

As Americans celebrate the holiday season, we have a chance to catch up with family and friends, count our blessings and reflect on the year behind us.

Looking back on 2012, I am proud of those across rural America who stayed resilient in the face of disaster. They managed farms, ranches and Main Street businesses through a record drought, an historic hurricane, and more. Ultimately, their hard work kept the momentum of rural America going strong.

I’m thankful for the thousands of men and women who, year in and year out, step up to serve our nation. I know that many of these military service members come from our small towns and rural communities – and that no matter where they’re from, each is a hero to our nation.  They’re stationed around the world today and many will spend their holidays away from family and friends, so that we can be safely at home with ours. Read more »

USDA Announces Effort to Enhance Department Efficiency, Improve Access to Programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is asking the public for comment as it continues to review existing program rules to determine whether any should be modified, streamlined, clarified, or repealed.  The Department is particularly interested in hearing from the public concerning areas where USDA can simplify and reduce the reporting burden for entry and access to USDA programs, while reducing its administrative and operating costs by sharing data across participating agencies.

In response to Executive Order 13610 (Identifying and Reducing Regulatory Burdens), USDA has incorporated various initiatives into its review to reduce burden on the public, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS), Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative, which has the potential to reduce administrative time for clients participating in NRCS’ conservation programs, and FSA’s streamlined version of a current form for use by repeat customers whose information has not changed. Read more »

School Garden Turns into Living Learning Laboratory for Nevada Fifth Graders

Mr. Bob Gardner’s fifth grade class at Dayton Elementary, learns about science through a living /learning laboratory at the school greenhouse and garden. The Dayton Elementary School garden is one of several gardens funded with a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to the Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey Counties in northwestern Nevada.

Mr. Bob Gardner’s fifth grade class at Dayton Elementary, learns about science through a living /learning laboratory at the school greenhouse and garden. The Dayton Elementary School garden is one of several gardens funded with a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant to the Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey Counties in northwestern Nevada.

“Can a School Garden Supplement a Community’s Food Supply in a Sustainable Way?” That was the question asked by Bob Gardner’s fifth grade class at Dayton, Nevada, Elementary School on Tuesday as students presented their science projects to classmates and adult guests. Read more »

Virginia Farmers, NRCS Give Makeover to the Land

Makeover shows are now a staple of reality TV—we all like to see dramatic transformations. Did you know that USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps make “conservation makeovers” happen on the land every day?

Take Peyton and Myra Yancey’s fourth-generation 225-acre farm in Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley, which houses beef and poultry operations.

The Yanceys’ conservation makeover started in April 2011 with planning and staking a stream buffer, which is a group of plants that will filter nutrients from water draining into the stream and provide shade to cool the water, improving the habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms. Read more »

The Rapid City, South Dakota USDA Staff Helps Make Christmas Special for a Family in Need

The Rapid City, South Dakota, service center includes staff from Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Rural Development (RD) and Pennington County Conservation District.   Three years ago, the Rural Development staff contacted the Cornerstone Rescue Mission and WAVI (Working Against Violence, Inc.) to provide information on various programs.  At that time, the USDA staff decided to forgo the typical interoffice gift exchange and set up the first Angel tree.  The first two years, the staff provided gifts to the families seeking assistance from WAVI.

Every year, the Rapid City Club for Boys finds sponsors to provide a Christmas for a family who would otherwise be unable to celebrate the holiday. This year, the group decided to sponsor a family of six.  The second to the youngest, is a 7-year old boy who lives with four sisters and his mother, and is a member of the Club for Boys.

The children’s mom works at a minimum wage job and is a full-time student in college.  The children range in age from 5 – 18, and the family budget is very limited making it difficult to make ends meet. Read more »