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Ground-breaking Partnership Brings Celebrity Recipe to Chicago Student Lunches

Savory chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, and glazed carrots were part of the new recipe served to students in Chicago schools.

Savory chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, and glazed carrots were part of the new recipe served to students in Chicago schools.

One of USDA’s most important missions is providing healthy meals to school lunch programs across the country.  In a unique partnership, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agencies teamed up with Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! non-profit organization, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system and Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality to create and serve a new healthy, tasty and exciting school lunch recipe.

To do this, Bob Bloomer of Chartwells-Thompson, the provider of meals in most of Chicago’s schools, worked with the Agricultural Marketing Service to acquire fresh, unprocessed chicken. After issuing a solicitation and competitive bids from domestic suppliers, the Agricultural Marketing Service awarded the first contract for two truckloads—that’s 80,000 pounds —of raw chicken leg quarters for shipment to Chicago’s schools.

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Meeting Tomorrow’s Ag Leaders at the FFA Convention

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack center with FFA award winners at the 84th Annual National Convention of the FFA on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Indianapolis, IN. Photo courtesy FFA.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack center with FFA award winners at the 84th Annual National Convention of the FFA on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2011, in Indianapolis, IN. Photo courtesy FFA.

Last week, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) representatives collaborated with bright, young agricultural leaders at the National FFA Convention. The event truly showcased talented youth from all over the country. Read more »

FSDZ Kicks Off the Season by Visiting Lake Anne Elementary School in Virginia

The USDA’s Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) kicked off the 2011-2012 season on Thursday, October 13, 2011, by wheeling in to Lake Anne Elementary School in Reston, Va., and educating 280 students about food safety!

Throughout the day, the FSDZ staff gave students an exciting tour of the Food Safety Mobile and educated them about the four basic steps of preventing foodborne illness: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

The students were especially fascinated by the “Germs that Glow in the Dark” station, because they were able to see how many germs were present on hands that weren’t properly washed under the ultraviolet light. “As you can see, it is really important to wash your hands properly!” Public Affairs Specialist Mary Harris told the group. Read more »

Let’s Move to Buy Groceries with SNAP

Life students are finding out that learning about nutrition can be healthy and fun!

Life students are finding out that learning about nutrition can be healthy and fun!

It can be a challenge to build a healthy plate of fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s why First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Faith and Communities initiative is helping community and faith-based organizations to ensure that all families have access to healthy, affordable food in the communities. Read more »

Data-Lovers Rejoice: More Farmers Market Geocodes Available

A map plotting the updated locations of U.S. Farmers Markets.  Geocode data is now available for over 6,200 markets.

A map plotting the updated locations of U.S. Farmers Markets. Geocode data is now available for over 6,200 markets.

With nearly 2 million page views in 2011 alone, the USDA National Farmers Market Directory is one of the Department of Agriculture’s most popular consumer search engines. Read more »

Let’s Go Nuts on October 22nd!

Georgia Pecans. Heart-healthy pecans are the focus of a project in Georgia to help educate health-conscious consumers on the nutritional values of tree nuts.  Photo by Judy Baxter.

Georgia Pecans. Heart-healthy pecans are the focus of a project in Georgia to help educate health-conscious consumers on the nutritional values of tree nuts. Photo by Judy Baxter.

This Saturday is National Nut Day, a perfect opportunity to honor nature’s nutritional dynamo– the nut.  It seems that Americans are more than a little nutty about nuts, which are considered specialty crops.  Nearly one out of every 10 of us eats nuts, or a nut product, at least once a day.  Almonds, walnuts and pecans are the top three nuts consumed in the United States* and the production of almonds, walnuts and pistachios has more than doubled in the last decade. Read more »