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Feds Feed Families in South Dakota

Rapid City staff working together on personal time to support the cause.

July is a busy month for most…bringing with it Independence Day; declared National Picnic, Ice Cream, Hot Dog, and Blueberry Month; as well as the continuation of the agency’s summer Feds Feed Families Food Drive and the very first Rural Development Cultural Transformation Day. Read more »

HealthierUS Schools Challenge Reaches Major Milestone

First Lady Michelle Obama joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celebrity cook Rachel Ray at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 to speak with faculty and parents about the United States Department of Agriculture’s new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches.

First Lady Michelle Obama joined Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and celebrity cook Rachel Ray at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 to speak with faculty and parents about the United States Department of Agriculture’s new and improved nutrition standards for school lunches.

It’s always a treat when we get to announce major progress toward making the school day healthier. Today, I am happy to say that over 3717 schools are recognized through the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC).  This voluntary initiative acknowledges schools that go the extra mile to increase nutritious food offerings, teach kids about healthy eating, and promote physical activity.  Read more »

New York Rural Development Staff Observes Cultural Transformation Day with Representatives of Area Tribes

USDA Rural Development (NY) Cultural Transformation Day Volunteers pose at the conclusion of a beautiful day spent working on the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy Native American Village at the New York State Fairgrounds.

This past Thursday the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s New York Cultural Transformation Day took place at the Iroquois Confederacy’s Six Nation Agricultural Society Indian Village at the New York State Fair Grounds. Things got started early as more than a dozen USDA Rural Development staff members joined with representatives from the Iroquois Confederacy Nation to build, discover and practice community relations and also to beautify the landscape. Read more »

From Homeless to Homeowner: With Some Support From USDA, a Mom’s Sacrifice Helps her Children

Sonia Romero (left), joins Leticia Perez, Leticia’s mother Maria, daughter Bianca and son Sergio in the living room of their new home.

“When I’m old enough, I’m going to buy you a house,” Sergio Perez told his mom. It was the best gift he could think of for his mother, Leticia. Sergio, his sister Bianca and their mother had been homeless, moving from relative to relative after her divorce.

 Although the three were without a home, they never seemed to be without each other. There is a bond…and a palpable tenderness among the three of them—even with a teenage boy and a pre-teen girl! Read more »

New Marine Shipping Container Report Sheds Light on Available Opportunities

The Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report. The weekly report provides a snapshot of shipping equipment that is available at 18 different intermodal locations. Photo courtesy of Port of Los Angeles.

Access to market information is a critical component in the success of any business. This is the case in the agricultural export industry, where locating available marine shipping containers is often difficult.  For many in this industry, finding available containers can be like searching for buried treasure.  To make the search easier, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) developed the Ocean Shipping Container Availability Report (OSCAR).  Read more »

South Dakota’s Top Chef is Job Corps Educator Too

Boxelder Job Corps certified culinary essentials educator, Dave Levesque, center, works with culinary arts students, Trevor Robertus, left, Mathew McGirr and Duanna Martin, right, as they create cherry puffs with chocolate sauce on June 1. Levesque was chosen as Chef of the Year for the American Culinary Federation's South Dakota Chapter. (Rapid City Journal Photo/ Tim Appel)

For the past eight years, students in the Boxelder Job Corps Center culinary arts program have benefited from chef Dave Levesque’s wide-ranging cooking experiences.

Located in the Black Hills National Forest near Nemo, the Boxelder Job Corps Center has 24 students in its culinary arts curriculum, which is one of 10 different trades taught at the school. Read more »