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Category: Food and Nutrition

A Farewell Message from Secretary Tom Vilsack to Employees

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack behind a row of American flags

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack steps on stage at Bonelli Regional Park.

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent the following message to all USDA employees:

I want to take this opportunity on my final day at USDA to express my profound gratitude to the people who work at USDA. Every day, nearly 90,000 people leave their families and the comfort of their home to do the people’s work in the People’s Department. What an amazing job you do each day for the country. Read more »

Bringing it Home at the End of the Year

U.S. Farms Selling Food Directly by Region, 2015 map

Results of the 2015 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey released on Dec. 20, 2016 reveal that 167,009 U.S. farms sold food directly to consumers, retailers, institutions and intermediaries. (Click to enlarge)

According to recent data on local food marketing practices, 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food through direct marketing practices, resulting in $8.7 billion in revenue. Pennsylvania led the U.S. in the number of farms selling directly to consumers, with more than 6,000 operations. California led in sales, earning $467 million. The survey also concluded that more than 80 percent of all direct market food sales occurred within 100 miles of the farm.

Local foods, pollination, organic products, fats and oils—these are just a few of the topics on which NASS recently began collecting and reporting data to meet data interests and requests, adding to our long-standing information on major commodities. We are innovating and building on more than 150 years of service to rural America with agriculture statistics. The value of accurate data is now more important than ever for decision-making on the farm, and by USDA farm program administrators, policy makers, researchers, market participants and, really, every aspect of agriculture. Read more »

Taste Test: Behind the Scenes with USDA Foods

Chris Facha samples the new pepper/onion blend

Chris Facha, USDA Food Distribution Program Coordinator at the Oregon Department of Education and American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA) President Elect, samples the new pepper/onion blend served during the USDA/State Agency Meeting’s “USDA Foods: Behind the Scenes” session.

The USDA Foods Available List is a lot like any other menu, with dozens of healthy options for state agencies to order and distribute through USDA’s nutrition assistance programs.  And every year, foods are added or removed from the list based on customer demand and market conditions. Some offerings are modified to improve nutrition content or make the product and its packaging easier to work with in the kitchen or more acceptable to kids.

The USDA Foods program is a collaboration between the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency that procures the food, and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the agency that distributes the food. This school year, the USDA Foods team’s goal for training and conferences is to provide more opportunities to taste new and reformulated products. That way, state agencies can confidently order them and school districts can incorporate them into their menus. Read more »

USDA Offers Grants to Help Expand Marketing and Local Food Opportunities

Ajo Farmers Market poster

FMPP grant helped Ajo Farmers Market expand its vendors to offer a variety of foods and activities from fresh local veggies, stews and soups to Kids Month with mural painting activities for kids!

If there is one word that best embodies agriculture, it is entrepreneurship. Over the course of my time at USDA, I’ve had the chance to meet with farmers, ranchers and food business of all sizes and in all parts of the country. The faces of these entrepreneurs and their innovative strategies and business models reflect the diversity that makes this country strong.  Each year, USDA helps thousands of agricultural producers and businesses enhance their marketing efforts and bring healthy, nutritious food to communities– and I’m excited that this week, we’ve announced another opportunity to support their work.

My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), announced the availability of more than $27 million in grants to help ensure the livelihoods of our nation’s farmers and ranchers while strengthening rural economies. The announcement included $26 million in AMS grant funding from the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program through the Local Food Marketing Promotion Program (LFPP) and the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). Read more »

#MyPlateChallenge Week 2 – Fruits & Physical Activity

MyPlate New Year's Challenge Week 2 graphic

Welcome to Week 2 of the #MyPlateChallenge!

The MyPlate Team welcomes you to Week 2 of our 5-week New Year’s Challenge! Last week we focused on the Dairy Food Group and physical activity. This week we’re adding another food group to the mix… fruit!

So, what foods are in the Fruit Group? This food group includes all fruits and 100% fruit juices. Focus on whole fruits—fresh, canned, frozen, or dried—more often for added dietary fiber. In addition to fiber, fruits contain many essential nutrients that are typically under consumed, including potassium, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid). Healthy ways to add fruit to your day: Read more »

Guia Del USDA Ayuda A Operadores De Tiendas Y Bodegas Ofrecer Productos Mas Saludables

Una señora haciendo compras usando sus beneficios de SNAP

Una señora haciendo compras usando sus beneficios de SNAP (cupones de alimentos).

Todos sabemos las recomendaciones de comidas saludables y  los consejos que ofrecen los expertos en cuanto a la buena salud. Pero el comer saludablemente no es tan fácil como simplemente seguir todo lo que oímos de los médicos y nutricionistas. A veces, el acceso a comidas saludables es limitado debido al vecindario donde uno se encuentra. Otras veces, no alcanza el dinero para las opciones de comidas más frescas o nutritivas. Y aun en otras ocasiones, el impedimento a alimentos saludables puede que sólo sea cuestión de saber dónde buscar en su tienda o bodega local.

Es ahí donde el Servicio de Alimentos y Nutrición (FNS, por sus siglas en inglés) del Departamento de Agricultura de EE.UU. está enfocándose — mejorando los alimentos disponibles para aquellos que servimos, sin sacrificar la satisfacción al paladar. FNS es la agencia federal encargada de administrar el Programa de Asistencia de Nutrición Suplementaria (SNAP, por sus siglas en inglés; anteriormente conocido como el programa de cupones de alimentos o food stamps). Y no hay razón por la cual los recipientes de SNAP tengan  que sufrir un abastecimiento inferior de comidas saludables. Read more »