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

Summer Meals: Its Success Depends on All of Us

Every day, millions of students are able to enjoy a nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunch thanks to the National School Lunch Program. Everyday they’re in school, that is. But what happens to these children when school lets out during the summer? That’s when vital programs offered by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service come into play. The summer meals program defends against hunger – ensuring that millions of the most vulnerable Americans have the energy they need to perform at work and school by receiving a healthy meal or snack when school meals are not available. Those meals are served at a variety of community centers throughout the country.

In the summer of 2014, USDA set a goal of serving 10 more million meals than in the summer of 2013 through the two programs that comprise USDA’s summer meal programs: USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option. With the help of partners, elected officials, and community leaders across the country, the goal was exceeded. We now want to build on that momentum. We’ve set new goals and need your help. Read more »

In Vermont the Hills are Alive and the Maple’s Flowing

Just 609 gallons more - then Vermont would have produced a million gallons of maple syrup in 2012! That could cover a lot of waffles and pancakes. Check back next week for another state spotlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Just 609 gallons more - then Vermont would have produced a million gallons of maple syrup in 2012! That could cover a lot of waffles and pancakes. Check back next week for another state spotlight 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.

Farming is pretty sweet in Vermont. After all, our producers rule U.S. maple syrup production. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, Vermont’s 1,523 “sugar makers” produced just under a million gallons of this sweet syrup. That’s more than 44 percent of all the maple syrup produced in the United States. The 2015 maple season will be starting soon. Daytime temperatures in the 30s and 40s with nighttime temperatures below freezing are needed for the maple sap to start flowing.

While Vermont’s terrain is excellent for maple trees, our hills and valleys are also pretty ideal for livestock. The dairy sector stands out in Vermont with about 900 dairy farms that generated more than 65 percent of the total value of agricultural product sales in 2012. That’s more than $504 million and makes us one of the top 20 states by value of sales of milk from cows. You have to admit that’s pretty impressive, considering that we are one of the smallest states in the union. More than 428,000 acres of our cropland are dedicated to corn and hay forage crops, largely supporting the dairy sector. Read more »

Another Study Shows Kids Eating More Healthy Food at School, Throwing Less Food Away

A new study published in Childhood Obesity has again confirmed that students are consuming healthier food at school as a result of the updated meal standards.  The study further demonstrates that, contrary to anecdotal reports, the new standards are not contributing to an increase in plate waste.  The study was conducted by researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut, the University of California Berkeley, and Yale University.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released the following statement on the report’s findings: Read more »

Rural Housing: Making a Home for Summer Food Program

Children from USDA Rural Development Multi-Family Housing community, Old Plank Estates in Butler, PA receive free summer meals from their local FNS Summer Food Service Program.

Children from USDA Rural Development Multi-Family Housing community, Old Plank Estates in Butler, PA receive free summer meals from their local FNS Summer Food Service Program.

In 2014, 21.6 million American children depended on free or reduced-price school lunches. When school lets out for the summer, many of these children do not get enough to eat and become at risk of all the health issues associated with hunger.  Poverty and the lack of food for children are persistent problems in rural America.

As Administrator of USDA’s Rural Housing Service (RHS), I know our agency helps hungry children. Working with the owners and managers of USDA-financed affordable rental housing last summer, I learned we can do even more. Together, we partnered with our sister agency – the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) – to feed children when school is out for the summer. Read more »

USDA’s Bay Delta Initiative Enables Landowners to Remove Insecticides from California’s Walker Creek

Special tours continue to be a part of Colusa Glenn Subwatershed Program’s educational outreach to growers to encourage the use of good conservation management practices. NRCS photo.

Special tours continue to be a part of Colusa Glenn Subwatershed Program’s educational outreach to growers to encourage the use of good conservation management practices. NRCS photo.

Water in California’s Walker Creek is now safer for residents, farmers and wildlife because of the hard work of conservationists, with funding made available through Bay Delta Initiative, (BDI), an effort of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, (NRCS).

The Bay Delta region, located in the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds of California, encompasses over 38 million acres and is one of the most important estuary systems in the nation. BDI helps clean and conserve water in this region as well as enhance wildlife habitat. Read more »

Cold Water Can be Used as a Climate Shield to Protect Native Aquatic Species

Maps showing the study area and locations of stream temperature data that were contributed by hundreds of people working for more than 80 natural resource agencies to develop high-resolution stream temperature scenarios that encompass 450,000 kilometers of stream. (Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station)

Maps showing the study area and locations of stream temperature data that were contributed by hundreds of people working for more than 80 natural resource agencies to develop high-resolution stream temperature scenarios that encompass 450,000 kilometers of stream. (Courtesy of U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station)

Climate change and species invasions raise fears that iconic cold-water species like trout, salmon, and char could be extirpated from most of their ranges this century.

A new study by researchers at the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station published in Global Change Biology shows that high-resolution stream temperature scenarios can be used to forecast which streams will serve as climate refuges for native cutthroat and bull trout later this century and that many streams are forecast to be too cold to be invaded by non-native species. Read more »