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Partnership, Technology Help Forge a Healthier Next Generation

Text2BHealthy nutrition educator Lynn Rubin signs up another parent at Washington Grove Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Md. during the school’s Fun and Fitness Spring Fair.

Text2BHealthy nutrition educator Lynn Rubin signs up another parent at Washington Grove Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Md. during the school’s Fun and Fitness Spring Fair.

We all benefit from creative partnership.  It’s especially true when some very savvy people leverage USDA Food and Nutrition Service programs to fight hunger and improve nutrition.  Text2BHealthy is one such example, where the University of Maryland-led program uses popular technology to inspire healthy eating habits for low-income families.

Established three years ago by the University of Maryland Extension, Text2BHealthy links in-school nutrition programs to healthy behaviors at home. Using USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) education funds to underwrite the program, text messages are sent to parents about nutrition lessons, food tastings, and events taking place during the school day. The messages also highlight seasonal foods and recipes, as well as ways to create healthy meals at home.  It even helps identify sales on local fruits and vegetables! Read more »

USDA Releases Strategies to Reduce E. coli Levels at Beef Slaughterhouses

Reduction of E. coli O157 illnesses since the mid-1990’s has been one of the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s greatest public health successes, with illnesses having dropped by over 50% since 1998.  While overall illnesses are down significantly, the most recently available outbreak data shows a slight increase in illnesses from this dangerous pathogen.  FSIS’ Strategic Performance Working Group (SPWG) has released a six-point strategy to turn the trend back in the right direction.

The Strategic Performance Working Group includes professionals from across FSIS, including field personnel, microbiologists, and policymakers who come together periodically to tackle serious and stubborn challenges that limit the Agency’s successful performance of its mission.  The SPWG previously developed the Salmonella Action Plan, which has been the agency’s blueprint for tackling Salmonella since December 2013.  Now the SPWG is also recommending a multipronged approach to address pathogenic E. coli in beef slaughterhouses. Read more »

Land Steward Finds Bliss and Life’s Rewards on Alaska’s Chugach National Forest

Robert Stovall, the deputy district ranger on the Seward Ranger District on Alaska’s Chugach National Forest, takes a moment to relax at the Russian River Falls Overlook. As a sport fisherman he enjoys hooking the big, aggressive silvers, also known as coho salmon. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Robert Stovall, the deputy district ranger on the Seward Ranger District on Alaska’s Chugach National Forest, takes a moment to relax at the Russian River Falls Overlook. As a sport fisherman he enjoys hooking the big, aggressive silvers, also known as coho salmon. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

To be a wildlife biologist and to be in Alaska … it’s not a question, it’s the good life for this Forest Service land manager.

Just ask Robert Stovall, the deputy district ranger for the Seward Ranger District since 2009 for Alaska’s Chugach National Forest. There are no roads into the forest’s interior. Beyond a two to three-mile road journey, you’ll find yourself in back country with no improved roads, a land full of beautiful scenery, lots of native wildlife, adventures and challenges. Read more »

A Student’s View: Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Ambassador Speaks Up for Youth in Washington, D.C.

Patrick Binder is a 17-year-old Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Ambassador from Yankton, South Dakota.

Patrick Binder is a 17-year-old Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Ambassador from Yankton, South Dakota.

The following guest blog is from a high school student from Yankton, South Dakota that was invited to discuss the implementation of USDA’s Smart Snacks in Schools rule at a meeting hosted by the Pew Charitable trusts last fall.  The blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting healthy meals in schools and the impact of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank these students, parents, teachers, and school nutrition professionals for sharing their stories!

By: Patrick Binder, student, Yankton, South Dakota

Aristotle once said, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” As a young person, I recognize the issues that face my peers. When the food service director at my school approached me about being on a wellness council, I was ecstatic. It was an opportunity presented by an adult to engage youth in decision-making. I continue to meet with the wellness council in my district, where we work to positively impact the wellness policy of my school. Read more »

Agriculture is on Upswing in Nevada

Sheep are just part of a dynamic Nevada livestock sector.  Be sure to check back next week for another state highlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Sheep are just part of a dynamic Nevada livestock sector. Be sure to check back next week for another state highlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

When people think of Nevada, most imagine Las Vegas with its casinos and other entertainment venues, or a vast expanse of dry land. Few imagine a dynamic agricultural sector fueled by farming and ranching. In reality, however, Nevada had one of the fastest growing agriculture sectors in the nation according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

In 2012, Nevada’s producers sold more than $764 million worth of agricultural products, a whopping 49 percent increase since the 2007 Census. All of these products were grown and raised on Nevada’s 4,137 farms and ranches. Since 2007, the number of our farms has grown 32 percent. Nevada also boasts some of the largest agricultural operations in the nation. According to the 2012 Census, an average size of a Nevada farm or ranch was 1,429 acres. Only three states, Wyoming, Montana, and New Mexico average larger farm sizes than Nevada. Read more »

Sound Nutrition: What Every Child Needs

At a 2010 press event in support of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, Dr. Hassink was joined by students, ages 6-11, from AHC Inc.'s Berkeley Community Center.

At a 2010 press event in support of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, Dr. Hassink was joined by students, ages 6-11, from AHC Inc.'s Berkeley Community Center.

Pediatricians understand all too well the toll that obesity and malnutrition are taking on the health and well-being of our nation’s children. Pediatricians, not politicians, know what’s best for the health of our children, which is why the healthier school meals are based on the advice of pediatricians and nutrition experts. With doctors, parents, teachers and schools all working together, we can make sure our kids get the healthy start in life they deserve. –Secretary Vilsack

By: Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, President, American Academy of Pediatrics, @AAPPres

Over the years in my weight management clinic, it became clear to me that addressing each child’s medical needs, such as the need for lifestyle counseling treatment for obesity-related liver disease, type 2 diabetes, or sleep apnea, was a crucial part of my job as a pediatrician. So was caring for the whole child. That meant working to meet three of their most basic needs outside the walls of my pediatric practice: sound nutrition and healthy physical activity; stable, nurturing relationships in families, early child care settings and schools; and safe environments and communities where children live, learn and play. Read more »