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StrikeForce Partnership Fighting Hunger in Virginia

Food and Nutrition Undersecretary Kevin Concannon (kneeling) and RD RBS Administrator, Lillian Salerno (far left) share a funny moment with two young men participating in this year's FNS Summer Feeding Program.

Food and Nutrition Undersecretary Kevin Concannon (kneeling) and RD RBS Administrator, Lillian Salerno (far left) share a funny moment with two young men participating in this year's FNS Summer Feeding Program.

USDA in Virginia is forging partnerships this summer to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Under the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) based program, free, nutritious meals are provided to all kids 18 years old and under at approved sites in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children.

The Food and Nutrition Service’s Summer Food Service Program has found an ally in its fight against childhood hunger with its partnership with USDA Rural Development Multi Family Housing Program to help get the word out about the problem of summer nutrition. With over 270 Multi Family complexes located across Virginia, some of which are in persistent poverty counties, this relationship has the potential to benefit many children statewide.  Over 30 kids enjoyed a healthy and nutritious meal at the Sandston Woods Multi Family Housing Apartment Complex on June 25th to kick off the program. Read more »

Buried Alive: The Petrifying True Story of a Forest Turned to Stone

A fossilized tree stump on the Gallatin National Forest. The stump is part of a huge forest that was buried in a volcanic eruption 50 million years ago. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

A fossilized tree stump on the Gallatin National Forest. The stump is part of a huge forest that was buried in a volcanic eruption 50 million years ago. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Imagine nearing the remote, rugged crest of the Gallatin Range in Montana’s Gallatin National Forest. As you scramble up-slope, you put your hand against what appears to be a lightning-blasted stump for balance. But the stump is not weather-polished wood—it’s made of stone.

These are the 50-million-year-old remains of redwoods, pines and sycamores which make up the Gallatin Petrified Forest, where fossilized tree trunks are preserved in so much detail that cellular structures may be seen under a microscope and growth rings are often visible to the naked eye. But how did these trees turn to stone? Read more »

Join the ‘Data Revolution’, Help Lay the Groundwork for Sustainable Agriculture

On June 8th, during the Nutrition for Growth event in London, the United Kingdom and United States governments announced plans to launch the Global Open Data Initiative for Agriculture and Nutrition.  This, in turn, built on the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture conference in late April, where I witnessed a successful coming together of innovators sharing new ways to make agriculturally-relevant data accessible to users around the world.  That goal is gaining momentum, and I am pleased to see a global initiative being formed on this critical issue because we must work together to achieve a “data revolution” for agriculture.

But it will only be successful if others come forward to join us, and I hope others will join us as we use data as another tool to help produce and feed people with safe, nutritious food. Read more »

USDA Helps Make Nutrition Education Fun For Kids

Here is a poster from the Dig In! curriculum that educators can post in the class room to encourage healthy eating.

Here is a poster from the Dig In! curriculum that educators can post in the class room to encourage healthy eating.

Research shows that students with healthful eating patterns tend to do better in school, and it’s important that children begin learning about food and nutrition when they’re young. In support of that goal, the Food and Nutrition Service recently released three free sets of curriculum educators can use to empower children to make healthful food choices and develop an awareness of how fruits and vegetables are grown.

The Great Garden Detective Adventure curriculum for 3rd and 4th grades includes 11 lessons, bulletin board materials, veggie dice, fruit and vegetable flash cards, and ten issues of Garden Detective News for parents/caregivers.  Kids will discover what fruits and vegetables are sweetest, crunchiest, and juiciest through investigations and fun experiences connecting the school garden to the classroom, school cafeteria and home. Read more »

Scientists’ Secret Ingredient for a Better Burger

Studies have shown that olive powder has potential to suppress the foodborne pathogen E. coli O157:H7 in hamburger patties and to retard the formation of potentially carcinogenic heterocyclic amines that can form when the burgers are cooked.

Studies have shown that olive powder has potential to suppress the foodborne pathogen E. coli O157:H7 in hamburger patties and to retard the formation of potentially carcinogenic heterocyclic amines that can form when the burgers are cooked.

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.

Chances are that you—or whoever’s the “grillmaster” at your house—have your own “secret ingredient” for making grilled burgers taste even better.  But it might surprise you to know that  Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their university colleagues also are working on secret ingredient for a better burger, although their interest focuses on food safety rather than flavor.

They’ve been testing the capacity of olive powder, a byproduct of olive processing, as a weapon against Escherichia coli O157:H7, and the powder’s potential to retard the formation of undesirable substances called heterocyclic amines while the patties are being grilled. Read more »

National SFSP Kick-Off Takes Place in the District of Columbia

FNCS Under Secretary Kevin Concannon poses with kids drinking low-fat milk.

FNCS Under Secretary Kevin Concannon poses with kids drinking low-fat milk.

Last week Washington DC held a great kickoff event for the summer food service program (SFSP) and I was happy to join in. SFSP is a critical program that keeps kids from going hungry during the summer months and the District is the best out of all the 50 states and territories at getting disadvantaged children enrolled. SFSP is particularly important in the capital because one in eight households face food insecurity and, as a result, may not always get enough food to eat during a day. Read more »