Demand for local and regional foods is strong and growing, as consumers across the country are looking for healthy food options grown and raised in their own communities. USDA has long supported this effort along with the procurement of regional foods by schools and helping them increase food literacy among the nation’s children.
These efforts will be the topic of the “Showcasing Local Foods” session at USDA’s 2013 Agriculture Outlook Forum, February 21-22, where Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), will moderate a panel of speakers to discuss how local foods can lead to more nutritious diets. Lela Reichart with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will discuss the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which focuses on nutrition knowledge and related topics. USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Deborah Kane will discuss the Farm to School Program that isbringing more locally sourced fresh fruits and vegetables into school cafeterias. Tom Coon, from Michigan State University, will discuss Cooperative Extension’s role in educational programs related to regional and local food systems.
Dr. Ramaswamy will also moderate a panel titled, “Promoting Nutritious Diets.” Daryl Buchholz, of Kansas State University, will explore the Cooperative Extension’s role in nutrition education for low-income families. Joanne Kinsey, from Rutgers UniversityCooperative Extension, will discuss technology trends for 21st century nutrition and the use of social media tools to extend and enhance efforts in nutrition education. Debbe Thompson, from the Children’s Nutrition Center at Baylor College of Medicine, will discuss promoting healthy food and exercise choices in children and identify ways in which digital technology, such as video games, online programs and texting, can be used in novel ways to reach children and adolescents with health-enhancing messages promoting a nutritious diet.
Dorn Wenninger, Walmart’s Vice President for Produce and Floral, will discuss the company’s local and sustainable produce efforts during the Fruits and Vegetable Luncheon.
More information on these sessions and the rest of the program, can be found on the Outlook Forum’s website.