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Investments in EFNEP Pay Big Dividends, Now and in the Future

Woman shopping at supermarket

EFNEP teaches program participants about nutrition, food safety, how to stretch their food shopping dollars. (iStock image)

What would you think of a deal with a potential return-on-investment of up to 10-to-1?  But wait, there’s more… now, add the potential to save some serious money on future medical bills.  Too good to be true, right?  Not so.

EFNEP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Expanded Food, Nutrition, and Education Program, has consistently proven its ability to improve the health and well-being of low income families and youth.  The program teaches participants how to improve their diets, be more physically active, stretch their food dollars, and increase their knowledge of food safety. Read more »

FoodShare Columbia: Another Great Way to Increase Access to Healthy, Affordable Foods with SNAP

FoodShare boxes

FoodShare boxes sorted and ready for buyers looking to improve their healthy eating choices.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

FoodShare Columbia is a program designed to help alleviate the stress families face when they live in “food deserts.” The program, in cooperation with the University of South Carolina and other partners, assembles produce food boxes to distribute to low-income individuals. It just got started in April 2015 and has already distributed more than 3,000 food boxes in a community with a high rate of diabetes-related health conditions. More than half of these food boxes have been purchased by SNAP recipients using their SNAP EBT cards. The program is proving highly successful and is revolutionizing the way the community addresses food insecurity.

By Carrie Draper, MSW, Director of Policy and Partnership Development, University of South Carolina Center for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities & Beverly Wilson, MPH, Director of FoodShare Columbia, University of South Carolina School of Medicine

One week, a woman brought $20 worth of coins; another week, a man traveled on two bus lines with an empty suitcase. They came to get a box of quality fruits and vegetables from a city parks and recreation community center in Columbia, S.C. Read more »

Acequia de Las Joyas Blooms with Traditional Irrigation Methods

Xavier Montoya, State Conservationist for NRCS New Mexico (left) and Mark Rose (center left), NRCS director of financial assistance programs manager, Kenneth Salazar (center right) and others

Xavier Montoya, State Conservationist for NRCS New Mexico (left) and Mark Rose (center left), NRCS director of financial assistance programs manager, talk about the successful partnerships and teamwork that led to the completion of the Las Joyas Acequia improvements near Nambe, New Mexico. Kenneth Salazar (center right), former president of the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts and current President Jim Berlier (far right).

Spaniards built the Acequia de Las Joyas approximately 300 years ago. The acequia, a community irrigation watercourse or ditch, was the principal method of providing water to the farmers for their crop and rangelands in northern New Mexico. The parciantes (also known as acequia members) worked together to maintain the acequia and each member in return received a portion of the water.

Three centuries later, the practice is still key to making the land bloom. But, time and the elements have taken their toll on acequia and repair costs have escalated to the point that members can no longer shoulder the burden of maintaining the critical community resource alone. Read more »

Stretching the Clock and Enhancing the Food Aisles Make for Better Eating in Tribal Nations

Children being served at the new CACFP At Risk Afterschool Meals-funded site on Pine Ridge

Children being served at the new CACFP At Risk Afterschool Meals-funded site on Pine Ridge.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

Food insecurity, and the social factors associated with it, can have a profound impact on any U.S. demographic. But two Indian reservations have recently found ways to tackle this very issue and illustrate how a little bit of brainstorming and community-building can go a long way to feed kids and grown-ups.

Ask any parent, and they’ll tell you a good chunk of their income goes toward putting food on the table. While that is taken as a given, what isn’t always obvious are the challenges parents encounter and the behind-the-scenes struggles moms and dads face to make sure there’s enough money to take care of this basic need. School meals are an important part of a child’s daily nutrition. But when the school day is done – and often when children are most hungry – that’s when parents may feel the pinch the most. Read more »

‘Bee’ing at White House Day at the Lab

Students from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. schools trying out different scientific careers like ARS bee researcher at the White House Day at the Lab

Students from Baltimore and Washington, D.C. schools try out different scientific careers like ARS bee researcher at the White House Day at the Lab.

“Whoa! Do you have bees in there?” is not something the Secret Service asks every day, even of scientists when they come to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which sits next to the White House West Wing and houses most of the staff offices.

It was just a month ago that agronomist Eton Codling, from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Crop Systems and Global Change Lab, and I, research leader of the ARS Bee Research Lab, were on our way into the White House. We were there to represent USDA at the White House Day at the Lab to give young students a taste of exciting science careers they may never have considered or even known about otherwise. Read more »

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Populations Begin Rebound

A Forest Service employee holding a red-cockaded woodpecker

A Forest Service employee monitors a red-cockaded woodpecker to track population trends and to identify birds that may be moved to other populations as part of the species’ translocation program. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service/Chuck Hess

It isn’t often that an endangered species successfully recovers, which is why the story of the red-cockaded woodpecker is so inspiring.

Once found throughout 90 million acres of longleaf pine forests in the southeast, the red-cockaded woodpecker’s population on National Forest System lands today number approximately 3,150 active clusters of typically one to five birds each. This is a 60 percent increase from the low of 1,981 active clusters in 1990. Read more »