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New Jersey USDA Recovery Act Water Improvements Spur Economic Growth

After struggling for several years with a stagnant economy, the future is looking brighter for Paulsboro, New Jersey.  Earlier this week, USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl Cook, Assistant Administrator for the Water and Environmental Program Jacki Ponti, and I attended an event to celebrate a Recovery Act-funded water project that will help to stimulate job creation while also upgrading Paulsboro’s water system. Read more »

A New Dialogue With the 1890 Land-grant Institutions

This week I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the 1890 land-grant institutions from across the country to begin a new dialogue and chart a new course together to help ensure that American agriculture remains productive, prosperous, and sustainable.  These institutions, historically black universities that were established under the Second Morrill Act of 1890, are critical to USDA research and to the vitality of U.S. agriculture. Read more »

USDA a Hit at FFA Convention in Indianapolis

Visitors explore the APHIS booth at the National FFA Convention

Visitors explore the APHIS booth at the National FFA Convention

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and several other U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agencies had staff at the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis last week to share agricultural information with 50,000 enthusiastic FFA members, aged 12-21, and their families. Read more »

Nature Is Their Classroom-USDA Honors a Utah School as they Dedicate new Classrooms

“Green Student Council” after posting flag to the new classroom building

“Green Student Council” after posting flag to the new classroom building

Blue Skies and excitement in the air was the setting for the recent celebration of dedicating three new classroom buildings at Soldier Hollow Charter School (SHCS), in Midway, Utah.  The new buildings were designed to fit perfectly into the stunning mountain terrain.  The school is recognized for its unique learning environment for K-8th grades. Read more »

North Carolina School Construction Project Moves Forward Thanks to the Recovery Act

Congressman Bob Etheridge, Deputy Under Secretary Vasquez visit the Middlesex Elementary School Construction site in North Carolina

Congressman Bob Etheridge, Deputy Under Secretary Vasquez visit the Middlesex Elementary School Construction site in North Carolina

USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Vasquez and Congressman Bob Etheridge along with North Carolina Rural Development State Director Randall Gore visited the Middlesex Elementary School construction site in Nash County, North Carolina earlier this week.  The project was funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Read more »

Keeping the Focus on HealthierUS Schools

First-grader Cassidy Stone clears her tray of soy nuts, whole wheat pizza stick, broccoli and jello, saying “the food tastes good.”

First-grader Cassidy Stone clears her tray of soy nuts, whole wheat pizza stick, broccoli and jello, saying “the food tastes good.”

As Child Nutrition Director for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, one of my top priorities is to improve the nutrition and health of our nation’s children. With the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization, we have an opportunity to pass legislation that will combat childhood hunger and obesity among schoolchildren by providing schools with the tools and resources needed to help children develop healthier eating habits. Read more »