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Category: Food and Nutrition

A Visitor’s Perspective: What Everyone Should Know about USDA and their Impact on Nutrition

Under Secretary Kevin Concannon taking a photo of his lunch mates at Arcola Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md.

Under Secretary Kevin Concannon takes a photo of his lunch mates at Arcola Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

Until 6 months ago, I was a typical academic. I spent most of my time doing research on obesity. Apart from a few years in consulting between college and graduate school, my entire career has been in a university. Since so much of my research aims to inform policy, I decided it was time for me to see how decisions actually get made. This past summer, I had the good fortune of being selected to the White House Fellowship – a fantastic year-long program which provides an intimate view of federal policy making. Each fellow is placed in the executive branch, and my home for this year is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). At USDA, I work as a Senior Policy Advisor to Under Secretary Kevin Concannon in Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. This is a great fit for me since USDA – among other things – oversees the suite of federal nutrition assistance programs that help low-income families (including mine when I was a young child) put food on the table in times of need.

To be frank, I thought I would love the experience and hate government. From my outsider perspective, government seemed clunky, inefficient and bloated with too many people doing redundant work. I was completely wrong. Read more »

Helping Kids Stay Active and Healthy This Summer

Kids and a man drawing on the Eat Your Colors theme

Creative themes and fun games help summer meal sites offer nutrition education and active games.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

With summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time for communities and parents to start thinking about activities for kids when school is out.  With deliciously juicy local fruits and veggies coming into season and, in many areas, warmer weather that invites summer play, it may seem logical that keeping kids healthy would be easier during summer months. However, without the structure of school and afterschool sports, those lazy summer days can sometimes lead to constant snacking and endless hours playing video games and watching TV.

For some children, the summer months can mean food insecurity because they no longer have access to regular school meals. That’s where summer meal programs can help, not only by offering free healthy meals, but also by providing opportunities for nutrition education and physical activity. Read more »

As Summer Draws Near, We Set Lofty Goals to Feed More Kids than Ever

Bradley, Alex and Chris Lanthier enjoying a Summer Food Program lunch

Bradley, Alex and Chris Lanthier enjoy a Summer Food Program lunch at Mountain View Apartments with USDA Rural Development in Vermont.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

You can tell by the smiles on the faces of Bradley, Alex, and Chris Lanthier that a well-fed kid is a happy kid! It’s smiling faces like these that make my job as Rural Housing Service Administrator so rewarding – these guys look as if they don’t have a care in the world. USDA Rural Housing Service is making a difference by helping kids, just be kids!

Yet it’s important to remember: unlike kids, hunger doesn’t take a vacation during the summer. Unfortunately, child hunger peaks during the summer months when kids from low-income families no longer have access to school meals. Read more »

Spotting Trends Based on ‘What We Eat in America’

Two women looking at different serving sizes

Using a computerized dietary-intake survey program and serving-size aids, interviewers are able to help volunteers recall their dietary intakes. (USDA-ARS photo taken by Stephen Ausmus)

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

The U.S. food supply is abundant, but many consumers are experiencing nutritional shortfalls. Some are overfed but undernourished at the same time. Observing trends in U.S. diets is possible based on food-consumption data collected during the annual “What We Eat in America/NHANES” dietary-intake survey.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is responsible for the consumption interview, one of several components of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The dietary survey is managed by researchers at the Food Surveys Research Group in Beltsville, Md., part of the ARS Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center. Read more »

Raising Awareness of CACFP Across the Nation

Young children smiling

Help us raise awareness to combat hunger and bring healthy foods to the table.

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA is highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation. We could not have done this work without the support of our partners. Below is a story from one of our partners, the National CACFP Sponsors Association.  Family child care homes, as well as some child care centers and afterschool programs, participate in Child and Adult Care Food Programs under sponsoring organizations. The ongoing support and training that sponsors routinely provide helps CACFP providers serve nutritious meals and keep children healthy.

By Vicki Lipscomb, President, National CACFP Sponsors Association

Did you know CACFP provides 1.9 billion meals and snacks for over 3.3 million children?

Hunger is unacceptable to everyone. To combat the food insecurity that one in four Americans face, there are a number of government programs designed to provide access to healthy food. Many people know about USDA’s school lunch program and you may have even heard of the WIC program, but did you know that the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides 1.9 billion meals and snacks to over 3.3 million children in child care centers, family care homes and after-school programs?  In addition, CACFP provides that same access to over 115,000 elderly persons in adult day care. Read more »

Investments in EFNEP Pay Big Dividends, Now and in the Future

Woman shopping at supermarket

EFNEP teaches program participants about nutrition, food safety, how to stretch their food shopping dollars. (iStock image)

What would you think of a deal with a potential return-on-investment of up to 10-to-1?  But wait, there’s more… now, add the potential to save some serious money on future medical bills.  Too good to be true, right?  Not so.

EFNEP, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Expanded Food, Nutrition, and Education Program, has consistently proven its ability to improve the health and well-being of low income families and youth.  The program teaches participants how to improve their diets, be more physically active, stretch their food dollars, and increase their knowledge of food safety. Read more »