The kids of eastern Kentucky have been getting a mega dose of food safety awareness this month. The USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone, a 40-foot long interactive exhibit on wheels, has been traveling throughout Rowan and Fayette Counties, teaching kids from seven schools how to keep them safe from foodborne illness. Additionally, the Food Safety Discovery Zone stopped at the Midway Fall Festival in Midway, Kentucky for an extra opportunity to blend education with fun while increasing food safety awareness. Read more »
I recently took a drive out to Martinsburg, West Virginia to visit Orr’s Farm Market . The Orr’s market, like dozens in the area, stock fresh fruits and vegetables just harvested from the nearby fields and fertile orchards. In fact, more than 95 percent of Orr’s produce is grown just feet from where I strolled: an impressive display of berries, sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes, and a wide assortment of peach varieties of every imaginable type. But fresh and local produce isn’t all I found at Orr’s. You see, this market, along with many more around the country, welcomes participants in USDA food and nutrition programs–and that is very good news. Read more »
I recently had the pleasure to spend a little time with some expecting and nursing mothers in Martinsburg, West Virginia. It was the first meeting of a newly formed community breastfeeding support group planned to coincide with World Breastfeeding Week. My friend Mitch Greenbaum, Director of Shenandoah Valley WIC and Nutrition Services, and his team of trained WIC nutritionists, board-certified lactation consultants and breastfeeding peer counselors, hosted nearly two dozen pregnant and nursing mothers to talk about how important breastfeeding is for both mother and child and how to have a satisfying and healthy breastfeeding experience. Read more »
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is a federal agency that provides one-on-one conservation assistance to farmers, ranchers and other private landowners. We help landowners grow food and other crops in more efficient, environmentally friendly ways to protect the natural resources that we all depend upon—water, soil, air and wildlife. With 70 percent of land in the lower 48 states in private hands, the choices these landowners make truly determine the health of the environment. Read more »
I recently visited the Park Heights Community Farmers’ Market in Baltimore, Maryland. At USDA we’re enthusiastic about farmers markets because they help fulfill two of our primary missions – promoting good nutrition and supporting United States agriculture, especially family farmers. Farmers’ markets also boost local communities through increased outlets for local farmers.
Park Heights is one of nine farmers’ markets in Maryland to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and one of 97 that accept WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks. Like thousands across the country, the Park Heights market provides access to farm-fresh, affordable foods for low-income individuals, seniors, children and families.
Increasing the number of farmers’ markets that participate in our federal nutrition programs, especially SNAP, is a priority for USDA because farmers markets help introduce low-income families to a wide variety of nutritious foods and help them get into the habit of making healthier choices.
I am pleased to say that over the past five years, the number of farmers’ markets participating in SNAP has increased by 250 percent, with over 1100 farmers markets participating nationwide.
Farmers’ market foods are also important in getting our youngest children off to a healthy start – even before they are born. In Maryland, more than 42,000 WIC participants have access to fresh, healthy food through the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which serves low-income pregnant women, nursing mothers, their infants, and young children.
Nearly 7,000 low-income seniors in Maryland have used Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program benefits at local markets.
I really enjoyed my time at the Park Heights Community Farmers Market. When I think about the time I lived in Maine, Oregon and Iowa, I remember the delicious blueberries, crisp pears and fresh sweet corn – all grown locally. Hopefully, working together, we can help ensure that all Americans can experience the health and well-being that comes with supporting farmers markets.