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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 »

Safeguarding the Food Supply and Protecting Human Health

Chili peppers

Specialty crops, such as chili peppers, is one of four program areas for IR-4. (Cristi Palmer, IR-4 Project, Rutgers University)

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.

What began as a program to ensure the safe production of a diverse food supply is now providing a value-added application of its core expertise: protecting honeybees from parasites and people from vector-borne diseases.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funds the IR-4 Program (“Inter-Regional Project #4”), which was established more than 50 years ago and is headquartered at Rutgers University. The IR-4 funds laboratories that test pesticides intended to protect specialty crops. That testing generates data that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires for pesticide registration. Without the help of IR-4, the cost of the research required for pesticide registration for specialty crops would be prohibitive. Read more »

How the Biggest Changes in Our Nation’s Nutrition Programs in a Generation Came to Be, Part I

Academy for Global Citizenship students enjoying a healthy lunch

Growing a Healthier Future: Improving Nutrition and Access to Healthy Food for Americans

Cross posted from Secretary Vilsack’s Medium page:

More than seven years ago, in one of my very first conversations with newly-elected President Obama, his charge to me was simple: “feed the children and feed them well.”  Today, I’m proud to say that feeding children and supporting families in a time of great need is not only among the greatest domestic policy achievements of USDA under the Obama Administration, it is among my proudest accomplishments as Secretary. Read more »

Ohio Farmer Continues Life-Long Drive to Improve Environment

Gail Dunlap's restored wetland

Gail Dunlap used the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to implement many conservation practices on her land, including restoring nearly seven acres of wetlands on one of her Ohio farms.

Since she was a teenager some 60 years ago, Gail Dunlap has played an active role in her family’s seventh generation Ohio farming operation by focusing on ways to continually improve conservation practices and establish a natural and sustainable way of life.

“Back then, we were not that many years past the Dust Bowl times and farmers in the area were doing a wonderful job of resting the soil with long rotations,” said Dunlap. “I remember even the weeds seemed to be as beautiful as wildflowers.” Read more »

Conservation and Biological Diversity in Organic Production

Rows of crops

Organic practices foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

The National Organic Program (NOP) – part of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – protects the integrity of certified organic products by developing clear standards, overseeing the certification of organic farms and businesses, and ensuring compliance with the USDA organic regulations.

Organic is a labeling term that means the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices. These practices foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Certified organic crop and livestock producers manage their farms according to the USDA organic regulations. This means using materials that are approved for use in organic production, and maintaining or improving the natural resources of their operation, including soil and water quality. Read more »