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Category: Food and Nutrition

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 »

USDA Publishes Guide to Help Corner Stores Sell Healthier Foods

A lady making purchases using her SNAP benefits

A lady making purchases using her SNAP benefits (food stamps).

We all hear the recommendations on healthier eating and the advice we get from experts on health. But eating healthy is not as easy as simply following everything we hear from doctors and nutritionists. Sometimes, access to healthier food choices is limited by one’s neighborhood. Other times, the food choices for fresher and more nutritious items are simply not financially attainable. And in yet other cases, the barriers to healthier food choices can be something as simple as knowing where to look in your local store.

That’s where the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA comes in — trying to improve the availability of healthier items for those we serve, without sacrificing taste. FNS is the federal agency in charge of running the SNAP program. And there’s no reason why SNAP recipients have to bear an inferior supply of healthy foods. Read more »

Connecting Health, Faith and Agriculture: How One Community is Using Agriculture to Support Community Health

A student from Conetoe Family Life Center presenting

A student from Conetoe Family Life Center discusses her favorite aspect of the program. 17 students from CFLC's program gave a presentation to USDA leadership and staff about their programs.

In the rural community of Conetoe, North Carolina, residents are taking aim at the lack of access to healthy and nutritious food and its youth are leading the charge. In the predominately African American town, more than 60 youth participants of Conetoe Family Life Center (CFLC) have a direct role in the health and welfare of their community.

Conetoe Family Life Center was established in 2007 by Reverend Richard Joyner, a 2010 CNN Hero, to address persistent poverty and lack of access to healthy foods for the predominantly African American rural town of Conetoe, North Carolina.  As a result of CFLC’s efforts, the community has seen a dramatic decrease in negative health determinants. Read more »