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Category: Food and Nutrition

Secretary’s Column: Celebrating Our Nation’s Agricultural Abundance this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest and the abundance of food we are able to share with our friends and family. This Thanksgiving, take a moment to thank the farmers and ranchers who make our nation’s agricultural abundance possible. Without them, the safe, abundant and affordable food we’ll put on our tables at Thanksgiving would not be possible.

At the same time, this Thanksgiving, it is important to remember those less fortunate. Many people will donate time, food or other resources to a food bank to brighten the holiday for families in their communities, and I am proud to say that many USDA employees are among them. I am also proud that through our People’s Garden Initiative, we’ve been able to donate 3.9 million pounds of fresh produce to food banks across the country over the last few years. Read more »

Thanksgiving Is a Great Time to Start Reducing Food Waste with Friends & Family

On average, these polts will take 4 to 5 months to make weight.  It takes a lot of natural resources, energy, labor, and love to raise the estimated 46 million turkeys that will be consumed this Thanksgiving.  Show your appreciation by making sure you waste as little food as possible. Photo courtesy of USDA.

On average, these polts will take 4 to 5 months to make weight. It takes a lot of natural resources, energy, labor, and love to raise the estimated 46 million turkeys that will be consumed this Thanksgiving. Show your appreciation by making sure you waste as little food as possible. Photo courtesy of USDA.

Thanksgiving is a time to appreciate all that is good in our lives and to spend it in the company of friends and family while enjoying great food.  It is also a time to reflect on the bounty of our food supply.  Each year, as I put away the leftovers from my Thanksgiving dinner, I marvel at the abundance.

I also can’t avoid pausing to consider how much food is wasted in this country.

USDA estimates that on average, American consumers waste about one-fifth of food that is available to them, equivalent to about $371 per person annually.  That’s enough money to buy about 21 whole turkeys for each person in the country. Read more »

Circle of Nations School Promotes Healthier Lifestyles for Their Children

Students at Circle of Nations School gathered vegetables that they grew in the school’s garden.  They used the kale and cabbage in a “Healthy Choices” cooking class.

Students at Circle of Nations School gathered vegetables that they grew in the school’s garden. They used the kale and cabbage in a “Healthy Choices” cooking class.

In November, USDA pays tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans by observing Native American Heritage Month.  Today, an important part of Native American culture includes working towards a healthier lifestyle for Native American people.  The following guest blog demonstrates the wide range of efforts that tribes are making to support a healthier next generation.  We thank the Circle of Nations School for sharing their story.

By Lise Erdrich, School Health Coordinator, Circle of Nations School

Circle of Nations School (CNS) is an inter-tribal off-reservation boarding school in Wahpeton, N.D., chartered under the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate and funded by the Bureau of Indian Education. CNS serves American Indian youth in grades 4 through 8.

CNS is a 2012 recipient of the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award, a Green Ribbon School Award, and of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant. CNS was the first Green Ribbon School in the state of North Dakota and the entire Bureau of Indian Education system. These and related initiatives promote healthy environment, physical activity and nutritional improvement points including fresh, locally sourced food. Read more »

Healthy and Happy Students in D.C. Public Schools

Students from District of Columbia Public Schools enjoy locally sourced fresh strawberries during the annual Strawberries and Salad Greens Day celebration this spring.

Students from District of Columbia Public Schools enjoy locally sourced fresh strawberries during the annual Strawberries and Salad Greens Day celebration this spring.

The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank them for sharing their stories! To learn more about FNS nutrition assistance efforts, follow us on twitter at twitter.com/usdanutrition

Read more »

USDA’s What’s Cooking website serves up cost effective, healthy recipes

What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl is a new interactive tool featuring USDA recipes to encourage budget-friendly and nutritious meals.

What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl is a new interactive tool featuring USDA recipes to encourage budget-friendly and nutritious meals.

The busy holiday season has begun and families everywhere are starting to plan ahead.  If you’re looking for easy to make, nutritious family meals that you can cook quickly on a tight budget, USDA is here to help with a new web tool, called What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.

As Americans prepare for the annual holiday harvest that is Thanksgiving, the American Farm Bureau Federation estimates they can expect to spend an average of $49.04 on a meal for a family of 10.  Our What’s Cooking? tool offers families lower cost alternatives, not just for the holidays but for every day. Read more »

The Many Reasons USDA is Celebrating 50 Years of SNAP

SNAP continues to serve as the first line of defense against hunger in the United States.

SNAP continues to serve as the first line of defense against hunger in the United States.

Half a century ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Food Stamp Act of 1964, making the Food Stamp Program (FSP), which at the time was a series of pilot projects, permanent. Despite the post-World War II economic boom felt by many Americans, some rural and urban areas of the country experienced extreme poverty as well as limited access to nutritious, affordable food. The Food Stamp Act of 1964 was an important component in President Johnson’s effort to eliminate poverty. This year, we not only mark 50 years of SNAP as a nationwide program, but we also recognize the lasting changes it has produced in both the economy and the nutrition habits of Americans. 

In those early days, the FSP reached families living in deprived areas and served a dual purpose.  It strengthened the agricultural economy, while also providing improved levels of nutrition among low-income households. Even though the FSP was renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008, its mission is the same. SNAP continues to serve as the first line of defense against hunger in the United States while supporting the economy. Read more »