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Food Waste: The Problem May be Bigger Than You Think

Think big.  Think Sear’s Tower big and then multiply by 44.

That is approximately the volume of food that is lost from the U.S. food supply annually at retail food stores, restaurants, and homes combined.

Now think of all the labor, land, water, fertilizer, and other inputs that went into growing that food. It would take far more than a mega-city of skyscrapers to contain it all.  Production of wasted food pulls all these resources away from uses that may be more beneficial to society – and it generates impacts on the environment that may endanger the long-run health of the planet.  The environmental footprint of food waste starts at agricultural production and extends through to food processing, transportation, retail, preparation and/or disposal, depending on where along the way the food is discarded. Read more »

Did You Just Toss that Carrot Stick Away?

Did you throw away any food today? If so, you are not alone.

Many of us struggle to store or use up the last of the leftovers or think of something edible to do with those shriveled vegetables at the bottom of the chiller drawer.  In fact, in 2010, 133 billion pounds of food in U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people’s stomachs. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted, in that it never reaches the intended consumers.  Unfortunately, the decision to purchase and then discard food has some serious ramifications for the environment and for food security.

Together, we can do something about this.  On June 4th – the day before World Environment Day – USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will launch the U.S. Food Waste Challenge and call on organizations spanning the food supply chain to join the fight against food waste.  Together we can help reduce the amount of food that is sent to our landfills and increase the amounts that are recovered to help families in need. Read more »

Food Safety Tips for Those Impacted by Storms

Following a disaster, those affected should be aware of these safety tips:

Anyone with questions about the safety of their food as a result of weather damage and power outages is encouraged to call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline (888-MPHotline), available in English and Spanish from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. CDT.

Ask Karen, FSIS’ virtual food safety representative who has the answers to nearly 1,500 food safety questions, is available 24/7 from your smartphone at m.AskKaren.gov, also in English and Spanish. Ask Karen can be downloaded for free for iOS and Android devices. Read more »

All That Glitters Is Not Gold ….

Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week  is May 19-25. David Cappaert, Michigan State University.

Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week is May 19-25. David Cappaert, Michigan State University.

In this case it is green, a brilliant emerald green, and it is chomping its way through America’s forests. The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, may look pretty, but it is killing our ash trees in our forests and backyards.

This is Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week (May 19-25) and the time of year when you might see adult beetles flitting about among your ash trees. It is also the time of year you may unknowingly move this pest if you pack firewood when you kick off the summer camping season.  Read more »

Connecting Healthcare and Nutrition through the Summer Food Service Program

A child at a summer meals site enjoys a tasty and nutritious meal.

A child at a summer meals site enjoys a tasty and nutritious meal.

“Two is better than one.”  Holding true to this timeless adage, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is teaming up with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to expand the reach of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).  FNS strives to increase food security and reduce hunger by providing children and low-income people access to food, while HRSA is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable.  There is an intrinsic mission overlap between FNS and HRSA given that their services target similar populations, and they have found a way to collaborate by rallying around SFSP. Read more »

Pennsylvania Lakeside Community Sewer Extension Has Minimal Impact

Nuangola lakeside homes, surrounding roads and outbuildings, are experiencing little impact during the sewer extension construction project.

Nuangola lakeside homes, surrounding roads and outbuildings, are experiencing little impact during the sewer extension construction project.

As a sewer extension project winds through the lakeside community portion of Nuangola, Pennsylvania, residents are experiencing minimal impact.  Last year, Nuangola Borough received $4.4 million in USDA Rural Development Water and Environmental Program (WEP) loans and $3.9 million in WEP grants to fund the installation of a low pressure wastewater collection system for the borough. Treatment of the wastewater collected will be done by the neighboring authority’s existing sewage treatment facility. The system will serve an estimated 420 homes. Read more »