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Category: Food and Nutrition

Grant it, Food Hubs Mean More Local Food for You

Mix of bright vegetables

Spring is now upon us and many local farmers markets are opening with displays of brilliant and vibrant colors. Farmers across the country are making local foods available to their communities. USDA photo courtesy of Peter Wood, AMS.

Spring is upon us and many local farmers markets are opening with displays of brilliant and vibrant colors. The fresh air has more people talking about and buying local foods. In fact, data from the USDA Economic Research Service suggests that farmers across the country sold an estimated $6.1 billion in locally marketed foods in 2012. My agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), plays a role in increasing these numbers by creating marketing opportunities for American farmers and local food businesses through the combination of applied research, technical services, and grant support.

As the demand for local food increases, food hubs are one way farmers can deliver more fresh food to retailers, schools, hospitals and restaurants. That’s why expanding local food efforts have focused on creating more food hubs. A food hub is an enterprise that helps farmers collect and gather local and regional agricultural products for distribution and marketing to wholesale, retail, and institutional customers. Read more »

How MyPlate Inspired One California Student to Make a Difference on her College Campus

MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) host nutrition events for other students on their campus.

MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) host nutrition events for other students on their campus.

We love hearing success stories from our MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors! Over 3,450 students, representing all 50 states, have signed on to take part in the MyPlate On Campus initiative, USDA’s effort to promote healthy eating on college campuses nationwide through peer-to-peer education. Read below about how one group of passionate students is helping to spread the MyPlate message. Also, be sure to check out what MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors have been up to at Rutgers University and University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Guest post by Sitoya Mansell, MPH, CHES President, Residential Nutrition Wellness Program, and Gena Alltizer, President, CSUSB Nutrition Student Association

After becoming a MyPlate On Campus Ambassador in 2013, California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) student and Nutrition and Food Sciences major Sitoya Mansell was inspired to create a nutrition program for students on her campus.  Coming to college is a major transition for many students, and Sitoya saw the need to guide students in making healthy choices in their newly independent lives.  With the assistance of the DPD Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences and the Office of Residential Living, a nutrition education program called the Residential Nutrition Wellness Program (RNWP) was created for students living in campus housing and dormitories. Read more »

Healthy Lunchtime Challenge and Kids’ State Dinner

At the 2014 Kids’ State dinner at the White House, Braeden Mannering, the 2013 Kid’s State Dinner winner from Delaware, introduces First Lady Michelle Obama at last year’s Kid’s State Dinner in East Room of the White House.

At the 2014 Kids’ State dinner at the White House, Braeden Mannering, the 2013 Kid’s State Dinner winner from Delaware, introduces First Lady Michelle Obama at last year’s Kid’s State Dinner in East Room of the White House.

Calling all budding chefs! Do you like to cook and make healthy food for your friends and family? If so, you might be able to show off your skills and creativity to the First Lady of the United States and your peers from across the country. Learn more about how you can represent your state at the Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House this summer.

First Lady Michelle Obama, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education, and WGBH Boston invite you to enter the fourth annual Healthy Lunch Time Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner.” Check out the past events here on the Let’s Move! website and get inspired to participate in this year’s challenge. Read more »

EFNEP: Delivering Nutrition Education to Limited-Resource Families

EFNEP provides food and nutrition information to limited-resource families, including how to understand the nutrition information provided on food labels. (iStock image)

EFNEP provides food and nutrition information to limited-resource families, including how to understand the nutrition information provided on food labels. (iStock image)

Educators from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories recently met in Arlington, Virginia to discuss local implementation of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), one of the nation’s largest nutrition education programs.

Through nutrition education, EFNEP helps limited-resource families and children gain the knowledge and skills to change their current attitudes and behaviors when it comes to choosing nutritionally sound diets and improve their health and well-being.  USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) administers EFNEP and provides national program leadership.

“The 2015 EFNEP Conference brought together about 170 representatives from 1862 and 1890 land-grant universities (LGUs) to coordinate, collaborate, and receive training that they can take back and implement in their respective university programs,” said Stephanie Blake, NIFA EFNEP program coordinator. Read more »

Event in the Big Apple is No Small Peanuts

For nearly a week, the National Peanut Board invaded the streets of New York to connect the city to the more than 7,000 peanut farming families the board represents. To connect with New Yorkers, they set up a pop-up shop where visitors could sample foods, talk to peanut farmers, and much more. Photo Courtesy of the National Peanut Board.

For nearly a week, the National Peanut Board invaded the streets of New York to connect the city to the more than 7,000 peanut farming families the board represents. To connect with New Yorkers, they set up a pop-up shop where visitors could sample foods, talk to peanut farmers, and much more. Photo Courtesy of the National Peanut Board.

You may not see the natural connection between peanut farmers and New York City. However, I recently had the chance to see both worlds collide during a National Peanut Board meeting in the big apple. In addition to the normal items of business, the board also planned some unique peanut-inspired events for New Yorkers.

The National Peanut Board is one of the more than 20 industry Research and Promotion Programs that my agency – the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) oversees. These self-help programs that are requested for and completely funded by the industry are charged with developing cutting edge marketing campaigns and supporting nutrition research that benefits all of the industry’s members. The Peanut Board recently invaded the streets of New York to connect the city to the more than 7,000 peanut farming families the board represents. This proved to be very successful as everyone soon learned that our peanut farmers have a strong connection to New Yorkers and to people all over the world. Read more »

Farmers Help Fight Food Waste by Donating Wholesome Food

Chris Pawelski, a fourth generation farmer, grows 51 acres of onions.  He donates excess onions that would otherwise go to waste to a food rescue organization and gets a reimbursement for his efforts.

Chris Pawelski, a fourth generation farmer, grows 51 acres of onions. He donates excess onions that would otherwise go to waste to a food rescue organization and gets a reimbursement for his efforts.

Sometimes Mother Nature and hard work come together to produce a bountiful harvest on the farm.  But what if the grocery store, distributor, or processor that the farmer sells to can’t handle any excess?  Or, what if a percentage of the crop turns out too big, too small, or oddly shaped and no one will buy it?  Organizations across the country are working with farmers to get this wholesome produce to people who need it.

Many farms may want to donate directly to a food bank, but are discouraged because they currently can’t claim a tax deduction for the donations. To help farms offset the costs of the labor required to harvest the crop and the packaging to transport it, many food banks and food recovery groups are able to assist the farmer with the “pick and pack out” (PPO) cost.  The PPO cost can be very beneficial to a farmer.  Chris Pawelski, a fourth generation onion farmer at Pawelski farms in Goshen, New York, donates his nutritious-but-undersized onions to City Harvest.  City Harvest is a food rescue organization in New York City that has been connecting good, surplus food with hungry New Yorkers since 1982.  The PPO cost that is paid to Pawelski by City Harvest in some years was the determining factor in keeping his farm from losing money. Read more »