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National Farm to School Month Highlights Benefits to America’s Students and Communities

Vegetables in trays and pumpkins on top

The local foods offered through farm to school programs help school meal programs fulfill the updated nutrition standards with appealing and diverse offerings.

It’s National Farm to School Month and USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems is here to help…and not just in October!  All year long, we offer research, grants, training and technical assistance to help connect child nutrition programs with local foods.  Here’s why.

Farm to school helps form healthy habits. By incorporating local foods, farm to school programs help school meal programs fulfill the updated nutrition standards with appealing and diverse offerings.  And the results are impressive.  The recent 2015 USDA Farm to School Census shows farm to school programs now exist in every state in the nation and in every type of school district – large and small, rural and urban alike. With that in mind, we plan to build on this momentum! Read more »

In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Jamie Clover Adams

Jamie Clover Adams

Jamie Clover Adams, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Every month, USDA shares the story of a woman in agriculture who is leading the industry and helping other women succeed along the way. This month, we hear from Jamie Clover Adams, Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the first woman to serve in that position. Director Adams recently participated in a 10 day women-led USDA trade mission to China with Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor. Read more »

New SNAP Pilot Provides Grocery Delivery for Homebound Disabled, Elderly

Cross-posted from the blog:

Your neighborhood grocer may be conveniently located just a few short blocks away. But for many persons with disabilities and the elderly participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the store might as well be on the other side of the world.

It’s a difficult problem that USDA’s new homebound food delivery pilot aims to alleviate, not just for the more than 4 million nonelderly adults with disabilities participating in SNAP, but also for the nearly 5 million seniors, who often face similar challenges and who may face disabilities, as well. Read more »

FSA Administrator Cooks and Connects to FSA Programs

Chef Jonathan Bardzik (left) with Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini (right)

During a lunch-hour cooking demonstration with chef Jonathan Bardzik (left), Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Val Dolcini (right) explains how FSA helps growers move produce from farm to market to the consumer’s table.

During my travels to 46 states over the past two years, I’ve explored Illinois cornfields, watched an oyster harvest in Connecticut, and admired beet fields in North Dakota. I’ve toured a rooftop farm on a Brooklyn high-rise, and marveled at fresh vegetables grown in truck containers in the remote Alaskan Arctic.

These are the places where it all begins, so that Americans have safe and affordable food, from the farm to the plate.

So when local author and chef Jonathan Bardzik invited me to the USDA cafeteria for a lunch-hour cooking demonstration, I grabbed my apron and joined him as his “Sous Chef for the Day.” Read more »

Growing Local Food Means Growing Opportunities

Adelante Mujeres

In 2012, FMPP supported the launch of Adelante Mujeres’s Sabor Color commercial kitchen project. This project focused on training small food producers and processors to develop culturally appropriate foods from local ingredients.

With sales of over $11 billion in 2014 and projected growth of 10 percent annually, local and regionally-produced food is the fastest growing sector of American agriculture. At USDA, we hear a lot from communities interested in strengthening the connection between farmers and consumers. That’s why we’re investing in projects across the country to help farm and food businesses tap into this growing market.

Yesterday, USDA announced more than $56 million in grants to support local and community food projects, including a program administered by my agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program awarded over $26 million in competitive grants, divided equally between the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) and the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP). Read more »

September: A Nice Time to Celebrate Rice Research

Glenn Buffkin, store manager of Mayflower Foods with a special display of rice products

Glenn Buffkin, store manager of Mayflower Foods, Stuttgart, Arkansas, presents a special display of rice products to celebrate National Rice Month.

September is National Rice Month, and the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Arkansas, is well positioned—literally and figuratively—to support the production, harvest, and public enjoyment of this versatile and nutritious grain. And on the world-food security front, ARS’ Stuttgart center is closing in on genes that regulate rice’s uptake and storage of iron, thiamine and other important vitamins and minerals—a pursuit that could bolster the nutritional value of this cereal grain crop as a staple food for roughly half the world’s population.

In the United States, nearly 85 percent of the rice eaten by consumers is grown on family-run farms across six States:  Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. Of these, Arkansas produces about half of all U.S. rice on nearly 1.3 million acres of cropland. Read more »