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USDA Foods Get Even Greener

Lunch directors and school kids are giving USDA’s frozen broccoli the thumbs up, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Kathy Russell, School Food Service Director with Santa Gertrudis Independent School District located in Kingsville, Texas, praised the recent improvements in the USDA Foods.

Lunch directors and school kids are giving USDA’s frozen broccoli the thumbs up, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Kathy Russell, School Food Service Director with Santa Gertrudis Independent School District located in Kingsville, Texas, praised the recent improvements in the USDA Foods.

St. Patrick’s Day might be over, but at USDA we’re still sporting our green.  That’s because of the success of one food in particular—a vegetable underdog: broccoli!  As one of the newest additions to the USDA Foods lineup, AMS purchased 6.87 million pounds (nearly $7.6 million) of broccoli during FY 2013, and FY 2014 purchasing has been even more robust.

Each year, the AMS Commodity Procurement Staff (AMS-CP) spends nearly $2 billion on 2 billion pounds of frozen, processed, and fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and eggs, otherwise known as USDA Foods.  The AMS-CP mission is to support American agriculture and promote domestic production by purchasing commodities, while meeting the needs of federal food assistance programs across the country. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Our Nation’s Wilderness: Yours to Enjoy and Protect

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. When he signed the Act in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson said, “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

His foresight, along with the work of many of his contemporaries, has allowed generations of Americans to enjoy the natural beauty of our nation.

The Wilderness Act itself was landmark legislation that formally established protections for undeveloped tracts of land across the United States and created the country’s National Wilderness Preservation System. Read more »

Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Recipe Contest

Young chefs prepare food with First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Vilsack.

Young chefs prepare food with First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary Vilsack.

Who will represent your state at the 3rd Annual White House Kids’ State Dinner?  It could be your child showing off his or her creativity and culinary talents in front of the First Lady and people from around the country.  First Lady Michelle Obama, the USDA, the U.S. Department of Education, and Epicurious have once again teamed up for the third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge recipe contest.

Children ages 8 – 12 years old are invited to submit an original lunch recipe inspired by MyPlate. Young chefs can win the chance to attend the Kids’ “State Dinner” hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C.  The invited guests will include the Lunchtime Challenge winners and their parents from every state! Read more »

Microloan Helps South Dakota Man Transition from Desk to Farm

David Hoff left his job to return to the farm and help his father. The Microloan helped Hoff acquire operating inputs when other lenders wouldn’t take a chance on him.

David Hoff left his job to return to the farm and help his father. The Microloan helped Hoff acquire operating inputs when other lenders wouldn’t take a chance on him.

This post is part of a Microloan Success feature series on the USDA blog.  Check back every Tuesday and Thursday as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

For David Hoff, farming was in his blood.  It had been 14 years since he worked on his family’s South Dakota farm.  He went off to college, earned a degree in business, landed a position in sales and, over the next 10 years, held leadership positions in sales for several companies.  But he had been thinking long and hard about returning to the 2,000 acre farm and rejoining the family operation.

Then in 2012, Hoff received the sad news of his uncle’s death.  His uncle had farmed with Hoff’s father in Hutchinson County, S.D. for years.  That’s when Hoff decided to return and help his father with the farm.

“This was a big change for us. I was used to bringing home a paycheck every two weeks and now that was going to change in a big way,” said Hoff. “There are no guarantees in farming and you can’t write down what you are going to make each year. My wife likes to have a clear plan and that was a challenge for her to overcome.” Read more »

On the Path to New Dietary Guidance Recommendations

The process to review the science that will support the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is currently underway.

The process to review the science that will support the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is currently underway.

“Eat more fruits and vegetables.”

“Choose a variety of protein foods like lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas and unsalted nuts and seeds.”

“Make at least half your grains whole grains.”

“Reduce Sodium intake to 2300 mg.”

These are just some of the nutrition recommendations that are the foundation of our current Federal nutrition guidance and policy. The process to review the science that supports these recommendations is currently underway.

Every five years, the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services are required* to jointly develop and publish the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which form the basis of Federal nutrition policy. The next edition is scheduled to be released in 2015. To ensure that the Dietary Guidelines are based on the most up-to-date scientific and medical knowledge, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act) has been established to review the current policy and advise the government. This advice comes in the form of a Federal Advisory Committee Report, which includes evidenced-based recommendations and rationales. Officials within USDA and HHS utilize this report, along with comments from the public and other Federal Agencies to develop the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans, policy document. In short, while the work of the DGAC is instrumental to the revision process, it is also solely advisory in nature. Read more »

Hunters with Disabilities Enjoy Annual Hunt on National Forests in East Texas

U.S. Forest Service employees Michael Sowell (right) and Lanton Chumley plan where to locate hunter blinds. The goal is to ensure sites are accessible to accommodate hunters with varying disabilities. (U.S. Forest Service/Mandy Chumley)

U.S. Forest Service employees Michael Sowell (right) and Lanton Chumley plan where to locate hunter blinds. The goal is to ensure sites are accessible to accommodate hunters with varying disabilities. (U.S. Forest Service/Mandy Chumley)

For some people with physical limitations, being able to participate in hunting season is a distant memory. But thanks to the Angelina and Sabine national forests employees and retired agency volunteers in East Texas, a group of local hunters have an opportunity to create new memories each December as part of an annual two-day hunt.

“For the past five years, we’ve enjoyed being a part of the Angelina Wheelin’ Sportsman hunt for deer and hogs,” said Jason Engle, a district wildlife biologist for the Angelina National Forest who leads the event planning efforts for the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas. “We want to ensure these eager hunters enjoy a great hunting experience, and we’re here to help them enjoy their national forests.” Read more »