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Volunteers Help Americans Eat More Greens

The Feds Feed Families program began in 2009 to help support families across America during summer months when other help may not be available.

The Feds Feed Families program began in 2009 to help support families across America during summer months when other help may not be available.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Most of us were reminded every night to eat the veggies on our childhood dinner plates.  And for good reason, too.  Veggies are packed with the nutrients that are essential to good health and, as you may already know, greens are nutritional powerhouses.  Dark, leafy greens are full of antioxidants like vitamin A, C and E, as well as B vitamins, calcium, iron, protein, fiber and even essential fatty acids. But not everyone is able to adorn their plates with these “edible emeralds.” That’s where a group of federal employees stepped in. Read more »

Sammy Soil Educates America on Soil Conservation for 40-plus Years

Sammy Soil is NRCS' mascot and was created by a district conservationist back in the 1970s. NRCS photo.

Sammy Soil is NRCS' mascot and was created by a district conservationist back in the 1970s. NRCS photo.

Teaching people about soil conservation is one of our top goals at the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and fortunately, we have a special helper.

Sammy Soil, everyone’s favorite little clump of earth, has managed to capture the public’s attention for more than 40 years. The little dirt clod, as he is sometimes called, was birthed through rock particles, water, air, leaves and the artistic mind of long-time employee Ernest “Howard” Whitaker.

Sammy Soil started as a water color drawing by Whitaker, who worked as a NRCS district conservationist in Tennessee. Read more »

Improving Agricultural Productivity in Uganda

Grace Opono uses her oxen to implement new conservation techniques she learned thanks to USDA's Food for Progress Program.

Grace Opono uses her oxen to implement new conservation techniques she learned thanks to USDA's Food for Progress Program.

Standing next to her healthy oxen, Grace Opono explains how new conservation techniques have doubled her maize yield over just two seasons. She is also earning a second income by providing tilling services to neighbors with her oxen. She tells me she can now afford to pay the school fees for her children and reinvest money in her land.  This story of achievement shows that USDA’s Food for Progress Program is making a difference.

On a recent trip to Uganda, I saw first-hand the difference USDA-funded projects are making in people’s lives. The Food for Progress Program, administered by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, helps developing countries and emerging democracies introduce and expand free enterprise in the agricultural sector. U.S. agricultural commodities donated to recipient countries are sold on the local market and the proceeds are used to support agricultural, economic or infrastructure development programs administered by government agencies and private volunteer organizations (PVOs). Read more »

Summer Meals: Serving Chicago’s Many Neighborhoods

Girls enjoying a healthy meal at a summer meals kick-off event.

Girls enjoying a healthy meal at a summer meals kick-off event.

At USDA, we value the work of the many partners who administer and support our diverse and far-reaching nutrition assistance programs.  In my hometown of Chicago, an inspiring group has been meeting year-after-year to ensure that child hunger in the metropolitan area and beyond is eliminated. In this post, Illinois Hunger Coalition’s Diane Doherty explains the important work this group performs.

By Diane Doherty, Executive Director, Illinois Hunger Coalition

On a perfect summer day in June, the Illinois Hunger Coalition joined the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Catholic Charities of Chicago, the Illinois State Board of Education and other members of the Chicago Summer Food Work Group for its annual summer meals kick-off event. The event, which is part of the work group’s efforts to raise awareness and increase participation in the summer meal programs, was held this year at Armour Square Park on Chicago’s South Side. Read more »

SAVE Money by Knowing When Food is Safe

Stop! Don’t throw that food away! It might be safe to use, and that will save you money. According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, each American wastes more than 20 pounds of food every month. That’s about $115 billion worth of good food thrown away every year at the consumer level in the U.S. Top food group wasted by value is meat, poultry and fish.

While the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline would never advise you to eat unsafe food, we don’t want you to throw away safe food and lose money. Read more »

Inner City Youth Protect an Ancient Oregon Forest Wilderness

Students from the Inner City Youth Institute acquired a love of the outdoors while removing invasive tansy ragwort from the Drift Creek Wilderness area in the Siuslaw National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service/Brian Hoeh)

Students from the Inner City Youth Institute acquired a love of the outdoors while removing invasive tansy ragwort from the Drift Creek Wilderness area in the Siuslaw National Forest. (U.S. Forest Service/Brian Hoeh)

Inner city youth helped protect an ancient forest wilderness in the Siuslaw National Forest by spending a day removing invasive tansy ragwort.

High school students from the Inner City Youth Institute  in Portland, Oregon, arrived in the Drift Creek Wilderness near the Alsea River, where Douglas fir and western hemlock make up the largest stand of old-growth rainforest in the Oregon Coast Range.

“We love coming to the Siuslaw,” said institute group leader, Stacey Sowders. “We love this chance to do meaningful work and meet people who are so passionate about what they do.” Read more »