Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Category: Food and Nutrition

Food Hub, Food Truck and Food Education: Northern Colorado School District Takes Farm to School to the Next Level

Lunch at a Weld County School District 6 elementary school featuring local products: grass-finished beef, pinto beans, local certified organic apples and greenhouse tomatoes & cucumbers

Lunch at a Weld County School District 6 elementary school featuring local products: grass-finished beef, pinto beans, local certified organic apples and greenhouse tomatoes & cucumbers

A bin of acorn squash sits on a pallet at the Weld County School District 6 central kitchen, right next to a bin of yellow onions and a 1,000 pound tote of russet potatoes – all locally-grown. A walk through the facility is enough to convince anyone that Weld County School District 6 is committed to scratch-cooked, locally-grown food for its 22,000 students at 35 schools.  In this rural Colorado school district, where over 40 languages are spoken at home and 66 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced price meals, fresh, tasty food is the norm – even down to the green chili, a southwestern favorite roasted in-house, using three varieties of local peppers.

About a quarter of the central kitchen is dedicated to processing fresh fruits and vegetables.  Mushrooms are sliced, carrots are shredded and onions are diced. With funding from a USDA Farm to School Grant in 2013, this food hub portion of the kitchen was furnished with tables, wash stations and equipment to process local food for Weld County’s own meals and for other districts in the area. Read more »

NIFA projects study the population decline of clams on Lummi Nation tidal flats

Northwest Indian College students are learning how to collect and prepare samples for analysis

Northwest Indian College students are learning how to collect and prepare samples for analysis

The annual White House Tribal Nations Conference provides tribal leaders from the 567 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with high-level federal government officials and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. This guest blog describes how USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports tribal food sovereignty and economic growth.

 

By Andres Quesada, associate director, National Indian Center for Marine Environmental Research and Education, Northwest Indian College Read more »

Nutrition Assistance Response in Flint

The City of Flint provides "water pickup" locations in each of its wards, like this one in Ward 8

The City of Flint provides "water pickup" locations in each of its wards, like this one in Ward 8

USDA’s emergency food program in Flint, Mich., offers a unique response to the city’s lead crisis.  To support the health of the area’s low-income residents, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service promotes key nutrients and adequate diets.

“This community is an old manufacturing town. A lot of the factory jobs have left the area, and unfortunately the people are left behind,” explains Matthew Purcell, Executive Director of Genesee County Community Action Resource Department (GCCARD), a local community action organization that assists low income residents.  After dangerous levels of lead were discovered in the city’s water pipes, everyday life in Flint became even more challenging. When a local resident like Reggie needs to take his medications, he can’t fill a cup of water from the kitchen sink.  He makes regular trips to water pickup stations in churches and abandoned parking lots to ensure an adequate supply of safe drinking water in his home.  When Mrs. Smith draws a bath for her four grandchildren, she is afraid to use the water from the pipes.  She drags large jugs from the front porch through the house and pours them, one by one, into the tub. Read more »

USDA Seeks Grant Applications for Projects to Test Fruit and Vegetable Incentives

 

FINI grants help make fresh fruits and vegetables an affordable choice for SNAP households.

FINI grants help make fresh fruits and vegetables an affordable choice for SNAP households.

Like other Americans, folks participating in the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. As USDA’s Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, it’s a fact that I recognize and a fact we’re working to address in innovative ways.

In recent weeks, USDA requested a new round of applications for grants provided under the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program and launched a handy FINI grantee locator map. The FINI grant program, if you’re unfamiliar with it, was authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and provides grants to test incentive strategies and technologies designed to help SNAP participants better afford fruits and vegetables. It’s collaboratively administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Read more »

Local School Wellness Policy Toolkit Now Available

Nutrition education and promotion are part of a Local School Wellness Policy.

Nutrition education and promotion are part of a Local School Wellness Policy.

New resources are now available to help school districts engage parents and school staff in Local School Wellness Policy efforts.  A Local School Wellness Policy is a written document that guides school district’s efforts to establish a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being and ability to learn.  It’s important for parents and school staff to be a part of this process so the wellness policy is representative of both the community and student’s needs.  

The Food and Nutrition Service’s Team Nutrition initiative has developed a free Local Wellness Policy Outreach Toolkit that school districts and schools can customize to communicate information about their Local School Wellness Policy to parents and staff.  The kit includes: Read more »

Harvest Time: Celebrating Native American Heritage and Traditional Foods in FDPIR

In this demonstration at the Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit in September 2016, wild rice is hand parched over a wood fire, a key step in the traditional processing of wild rice.

In this demonstration at the Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit in September 2016, wild rice is hand parched over a wood fire, a key step in the traditional processing of wild rice.

Autumn is a time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for, as we enjoy the harvest of nature’s bounty during gatherings with family and friends. In Indian Country, culture and tradition are sustained through shared meals with family and the community. Traditional foods are a powerful way for each new generation to connect with and honor its history and its ancestors, and participants in USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) have access to more traditional foods than ever this year. November, Native American Heritage Month, is an especially fitting time to celebrate the addition to FDPIR of bison, blue cornmeal, wild rice, and wild salmon – foods that not only nourish a body but sustain a culture.

In collaboration with the FDPIR community, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Food and Nutrition Service have been working to identify culturally relevant foods to procure and offer through FDPIR, a program that provides healthy food and nutrition education to an average of 92,500 income-eligible individuals living on or near reservations across the United States each month. The food package offers more than 100 domestically sourced, nutritious foods, including a variety of meat, poultry, fish, dairy, grains, and fruits and vegetables. In both fiscal year 2015 and 2016, USDA received an additional allocation of $5 million dedicated to traditional and locally-grown foods. This fund, authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill and subject to the availability of appropriations, has allowed the exploration of new culinary opportunities for FDPIR. Read more »