Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

It’s Christmas All Year in Idaho

U.S. Forest Service employee Cheyenne Warner helping children make ornaments that will adorn the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

U.S. Forest Service employee Cheyenne Warner helps children make ornaments that will adorn the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree when it’s delivered to Washington, D.C., later this year. The tree is considered “The People’s Tree” and one is harvested from a different national forest each year. (U.S. Forest Service/Charity Parks)

The annual tradition of providing a Christmas tree for the U.S. Capitol got an early start last month at the McCall, Idaho, Winter Carnival. The Payette National Forest is providing the 2016 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, historically and fondly known as “The People’s Tree,” which will adorn the West Lawn of Capitol Hill in December.

It seemed fitting to stage the kick-off event in McCall because the forest surrounds the city. The public event, which swells the town of 3,000 to as many as 60,000 people, has many activities including building larger-than-life snow sculptures. This year employees and friends of the Payette National Forest built an ice sculpture to celebrate their People’s Tree’s eventual arrival in Washington, D.C. Read more »

A Peach of a School Meal Alternative

An overview of Florida’s Fresh Peach Promotion from March 1 through June 1, 2015

An overview of Florida’s Fresh Peach Promotion from March 1 through June 1, 2015.

An increasing number of our nation’s schools are using locally grown foods for school meals thanks to efforts of The USDA Farm to School Program. However, the availability of locally grown produce is often at the mercy of harsh weather conditions and other elements that lower production and cause shortages of popular food items.

Florida has experienced this challenge first-hand. A disease called citrus greening has already caused millions of dollars in damage to Florida’s orange crop.  USDA scientists have been actively engaged in research to eradicate the disease, but the fruit, a favorite of school children, is now less available than in the past. The Florida Farm to School team is working with Florida Classic Growers to provide a new fruit alternative for school menus while also assisting fruit growers hit by damage to their orange crop.

By Lindsey Grubbs, Florida Farm to School and WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program Director, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Farm to School Program took on a new project this year in conjunction with citrus growers focused on a new product in Florida: peaches! The Florida citrus industry has been experiencing difficulties recently with the spread of citrus greening. Citrus greening was discovered in Florida in 2005 and since taken a toll on the area’s orange groves. Read more »

Modern Solutions for Personal Nutrition

At-a-glance view of dietary intake provided by SuperTracker’s Food Tracker feature

At-a-glance view of dietary intake provided by SuperTracker’s Food Tracker feature, available on desktop, mobile, and tablet

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.

Knowing what and how much to eat can be complicated. And in today’s quick-paced society, Americans are looking for modern, on-the-go solutions for all aspects of our lives, including personal nutrition. USDA offers a variety of online tools, available on desktop, tablet, and mobile, to help you plan a healthy diet and see how you’re doing over time.

SuperTracker is a free food, physical activity, and weight tracking tool. It provides nutrition recommendations based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that are personalized for your specific needs. You can track your foods to see how your choices stack up and quickly identify small changes for improvement. SuperTracker can help you build your own healthy eating style through interactive tracking. The Food Tracker feature offers an at-a-glance view of your dietary intake, including the five MyPlate food groups, calories, added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium. Read more »

Tennessee Farmer Creates Top-Notch Turkey Habitat While Improving Grazing Lands

Turkeys roaming free within the protective fences on Chuck Borum’s farm

Turkeys roaming free within the protective fences on Chuck Borum’s farm.

When it comes to understanding and improving turkey habitat restoration, there are few more knowledgeable than farmer Chuck Borum in Pulaski, Tennessee. Borum bought a few hundred acres a decade ago with the intent of raising cattle, but with time, he saw how he could also establish top-notch turkey habitat.

“Initially, we only had a few turkeys on the farm, and before we knew it, we had a whole slew of them because the programs we had with NRCS helped us establish a safer habitat for them to prosper,” Borum said. Read more »

Children Worldwide Celebrate International School Meals Day

Students in a classroom

International School Meals Day raises awareness of the importance of food and nutrition in education and offers an opportunity for students to share school feeding experiences from across the globe.

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.

The upsurge in healthy eating and food security campaigns is really resonating with schoolchildren, so much so, that a day has been set aside for youth around the world to share their experiences.  The celebration of this movement – International School Meals Day – draws our attention to the importance of good nutrition for all children.

March 3 marks the fourth consecutive year that USDA will partner with the United Kingdom to invite children from across the globe to promote nutrition and school meals, this year focusing on introducing fresh and healthy local fare into their diets. On that day children will connect through social media to share their food experiences and healthy eating habits. Read more »

Food and Nutrition Education: Growing Healthy Bodies and Minds

A nutrition educator teaches children about MyPlate

A nutrition educator teaches children about MyPlate.

Each March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages Americans to return to the basics of healthful eating through National Nutrition Month. To kick off the month-long celebration of nutrition and health, we wanted to recognize the Academy, who initiated this observance in 1973 as a week-long event that eventually grew into the established month-long observance in 1980. Today we hear from the Academy’s President on the value of nutrition education, such as MyPlate, and its importance to federal nutrition programs.

By Dr. Evelyn F. Crayton, RDN, LDN, FAND, President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Access to safe, affordable, nutritious foods is central to the missions of both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.

Access to nutritious food is just part of the solution: Building people’s motivation, knowledge, skills and abilities around food and nutrition makes a lifelong impact that reduces health care costs and improves hunger status. Read more »