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An Inside Look: Anatomy of a Team Up Workshop

If you haven’t heard the buzz, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s expansion of the Team Up for School Nutrition Success  initiative is in full swing, with 20 completed trainings and 14 more scheduled for 2016. Team Up offers a unique learning experience that enhances schools’ food service operations through training and peer-to-peer mentorship to school nutrition professionals looking to maintain a healthy environment and encourage strong student meal program participation.
What exactly happens at a Team Up training? Ever had an “a-ha” or a “why didn’t I think of that” moment when a friend shares a really great idea? Team Up is where “a-ha” moments are shared among school nutrition professionals and turned into action back via their school meals programs. Let’s break down a Team Up workshop to see how these “a-ha” moments transpire. Read more »

2016 GODAN Summit: A Large Display of USG Support for Agriculture and Nutrition Open Data

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the GODAN Summit 2016

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (third from right at center table) participated in a high-level meeting at the United Nations as part of the two-day GODAN Summit 2016. The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition initiative (GODAN) meeting was the largest ever event dedicated to open data in agriculture and nutrition, convening over 750 attendees including world leaders, researchers, farmers, students and others – public, private and non-profit - united around a collaboration on agriculture and nutrition data openness. Photo credit: Perry Bindeglass

Open agriculture and nutrition data is a powerful tool for long-term sustainable development.  The Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative – comprising more than 350 international organizations representing governments, donors, businesses, and not-for-profits – continues to be a leader in advocating for the adoption of open data policies.  GODAN’s focus on opening agriculture and nutrition data as a mechanism to support sustainable development has the potential to solve longstanding global food security challenges.

As a founding partner of GODAN, the United States Government (USG) has implemented policy to support the creation of open data resources and provided technical support to make open data work for agriculture and nutrition—through the release of open data sets, through the development of standards that allow different types of data sets to be integrated with one another, and through the creation of new databases to house open data.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has served as the U.S. Government lead on the GODAN initiative since its creation in 2013, and has been highly involved in open data efforts. Read more »

Be a Fire Wise know it all

 

Get Ready, Be Prepared, Be Firewise

Get Ready, Be Prepared, Be Firewise

You’ve heard this from us during previous fire seasons, and you’ll continue to hear it from us every fire season: You can never be Fire Wise enough. And, with this being National Preparedness Month, you’re going to hear it a lot. 

The theme this year for National Preparedness Month is “Don’t Wait, Communicate.  Make your Emergency Plan Today”. This straight forward theme makes it very clear that planning is crucial to protect yourself, your loved ones and your property against wildfire. Read more »

Understanding the USDA Organic Label

Understanding the USDA Organic Label

Understanding the USDA Organic Label

Amidst nutrition facts, ingredient lists, and dietary claims on food packages, “organic” might appear as one more piece of information to decipher when shopping for products.  Understanding what the organic label means can help shoppers make informed purchasing choices.

Organic is a labeling term found on products that have been produced using cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. The National Organic Program – part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service – enforces the organic regulations, ensuring the integrity of the USDA Organic Seal. Read more »

Plenty! of Good Ideas for Growing and Sharing Healthy Food

Plenty! volunteers deliver homemade canned soup and apples to neighbors with school-aged kids. When schools are closed due to weather, families relying on school lunch and breakfast can really use this extra help.

Plenty! volunteers deliver homemade canned soup and apples to neighbors with school-aged kids. When schools are closed due to weather, families relying on school lunch and breakfast can really use this extra help.

In Southwest Virginia, a unique agricultural operation seeks to provide something that many in the community don’t have … plenty. The 18-acre combination vegetable farm/food bank/food hub on the Little River welcomes all to sample the bounty of sustainably-grown products.

Plenty! Farm began with a trip to a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). I was interested in taking extra beet greens to the local food pantry and was surprised to learn that no one had the ability to receive the vegetables or a means to distribute them. That’s when McCabe Coolidge and I began to collect unsold or extra produce from local farmers and gardeners. Read more »

Serving Spoons and Healthy Habits – Encouraging Positive Mealtimes and Supporting Family Style Meals in Child Care New materials available as part of Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children: Provider Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

Serving Spoons and Healthy Habits – Encouraging Positive Mealtimes and Supporting Family Style Meals in Child Care

Serving Spoons and Healthy Habits – Encouraging Positive Mealtimes and Supporting Family Style Meals in Child Care

From the foods we serve to the conversations we share, involving young children in mealtimes creates a positive eating environment for everyone to enjoy. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides almost 4 million nutritious meals and snacks each day to children and adults in child care and group day care settings. These mealtimes provide a tremendous opportunity to help children establish healthy eating habits. CACFP providers are engaging children in cooking, serving, and other mealtime activities as a way to get children interested in new foods and to encourage healthful eating behaviors. 

On July 20, 2016, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) addressed these important topics by adding two new supplemental materials to an existing, comprehensive resource for CACFP providers, Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children: Provider Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The new supplements, Create a Positive Meal Environment and Support Family Style Meals, offer fun ways child care providers can continue to create positive meal environments and adopt family style meals with children in their care. Through these practices, child care provides can help children try new foods, recognize foods from different food groups in a meal, and practice table manners. Both additions also offer tips and suggestions for including nutrition education activities during and outside of mealtimes.  Read more »