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Kudos to Chicago’s High School Top Chefs!

Richards Career Academy winning team

Richards Career Academy winning team

On January 24, 2011, a wintry day in Chicago, 20,000 high school students in the Chicago Public Schools were treated to a prize-winning, delicious and healthy school lunch created by their fellow students.  Topping the menu was Afro-Caribe Plancha (Cuban turkey, black beans, provolone cheese and marinated cucumbers baked in a whole grain pizza crust), along with Soup of Sunshine (yellow squash, bell pepper, tomatoes, apples, bananas and peanut butter with cilantro and spices), and Caribbean Crunch Salad (julienned oranges, cucumber apple, cilantro, orange juice and black pepper). Read more »

Volunteers Create a Buzz in Indiana

Members of the John M. Craddock Wetland Nature Preserve Team construct a walkway through a wetland in Muncie, Ind.

Members of the John M. Craddock Wetland Nature Preserve Team construct a walkway through a wetland in Muncie, Ind.

Volunteers are helping to turn an old industrial area of Muncie, Indiana into a wetland where wildlife thrive and people can connect with the outdoors.

Since the John M. Craddock Wetland Nature Preserve Team started its work on the site in 2009, wildlife has moved in, plants are flourishing and insects are buzzing. Now, the buzz in Indiana is about a national award recently presented to the volunteers. Read more »

ERS 50th Anniversary Session at 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) will kick off its 50th anniversary celebration with a special session at the Agricultural Outlook Forum this month.  The session will highlight ERS’ role as a resource for policymakers and for those advancing debates in the areas of food economics, rural development and natural resources, and markets and trade. In addition, the expert panel will share their thoughts on what questions will shape ERS research in the years to come.  Read more »

Announcing the USDA FNS 2011 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Webinar Series!

Each summer, 22.3 million students are at risk of going hungry when the school year ends and school lunches are no longer available.  For many children, school meals are the only complete and nutritious meals they eat, and in the summer they go without.  The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) can help to fill the summer meal gap for low-income children.  Faith-based, community and private non-profit organizations can make a difference in the lives of hungry children by serving meals with SFSP, a federally funded program administered by states that reimburses organizations for meals served to children during the summer. Read more »

New ERS Report Discusses Climate Change Policy and the Ways Livestock Producers and Dairy Operators can Benefit from Anaerobic Digesters

As American Agriculture moves into a new century, producers are working to reduce greenhouse gases and nutrient runoff from their operations.  It is even better if, while doing so, they also develop a new revenue stream.  Anaerobic digesters deliver on that objective and also contribute to Obama Administration’s commitment to promote renewable energy and green technology. Deploying anaerobic digesters is not only good for the environment, and for the Nation’s energy outlook, it signifies renewed efforts to invest in America, part of the President’s strategy to “Win the future.” Read more »

USDA Fresh Fruit and Veggie Program Earns Rave Reviews from Dayton Students

First graders at E. J. Brown Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio, eat cauliflower with lowfat ranch dip, as part of their school’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. According to school nurse Virginia Noe, the students “gobbled up” the cauliflower, with and without the dip.

First graders at E. J. Brown Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio, eat cauliflower with lowfat ranch dip, as part of their school’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. According to school nurse Virginia Noe, the students “gobbled up” the cauliflower, with and without the dip.

Recently, an interesting letter came across my desk. The letter was from an Ohio school nurse who wanted USDA to know that students at E. J. Brown Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio, LOVE their USDA-funded Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), now in its second year.  And that makes E.J. Brown’s school nurse Virginia Noe, who wrote the letter, a huge fan of the program and its many positive effects on student eating behavior, health and learning.  Noe shared her thoughts in the enthusiastic and heartfelt letter. Read more »