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Category: Food and Nutrition

SNAP Farmers Market Webpage Streamlined, Updated

Farmers’ market in Texas

Shoppers explore the healthy food choices available at one of America’s farmers markets.

Expanding access to the healthy foods available at farmers markets and farm stands for those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been – and continues to be – a USDA priority. For several years now, we’ve provided funding to equip farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with the electronic technology they need to redeem SNAP benefits. The results speak for themselves. In 2008, there were only 753 SNAP-authorized markets and farmers. Today, that number has grown to more than 6,400 – more than eight times the number of SNAP-authorized farmers markets compared to when the Obama Administration first took office. Read more »

A Momentous Change is Underway in the Egg Case

Hens outside

Less than 30 million of the over 300 million hens that lay our nation’s eggs are raised in cage free systems. AMS is committed to working with the U.S. egg industry to facilitate their efforts to address this challenge.

Have you been to a supermarket to buy a carton of eggs lately?  If so, you may have found an array of food marketing claims on the packages.  All natural, organic, cage-free, pasture-raised, free range, non-GMO, raised without antibiotics, Omega-3 enriched and vegetarian-fed diet are just a small sample of the many claims consumers might see in the egg case. The modern food shopper is inundated by choice.

From its inception, the role of AMS has been to facilitate an efficient, fair, and competitive marketing system to benefit producers and consumers.  One of the ways AMS accomplishes this is by establishing and applying grade standards to different agricultural products. Terms such as “Grade A” and “Large” have become a trusted part of the American egg vocabulary, helping both farmers and consumers with descriptive labels. Other marketing terms that now appear on egg cartons have evolved to reflect consumers’ demand to understand things like where the eggs come from, how chickens were raised and who raised them. Read more »

Summer Meals: Fueling Children and Teens to Reach Their Highest Potential

Under Secretary Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon with children

For more than 40 years, USDA has been committed to closing the food security gap that occurs in the summer months when children no longer have access to the nutritious meals they’re offered in school.

As I travel across the country visiting our nation’s summer meals sites, I am proud of the commitment we’ve collectively made to nourish both the bodies and minds of our country’s children and teens. Schools, recreation centers, places of worship, libraries and other community sites have generously opened their doors to ensure kids receive healthy, balanced meals during the summer months – a time when many low-income families struggle to provide their children nutritious meals and snacks each and every day.

At USDA we’ve long recognized summer as a vulnerable time for kids and have been focused on closing the food security gap that occurs during the months when school is out of session.  Since 2009, more than 1.2 billion meals have been served through the Summer Meal Programs, fueling kids and teens throughout the summer and helping to ensure they are healthy and ready to learn when the school year begins. Read more »

Celebrating Food and Culinary Connections: Schools Serve up California-grown Food on “California Thursdays”

The “California Wrap”

The “California Wrap” was served at many districts across Contra Costa County, a strategy that allows them to purchase collectively on California Thursdays.

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month! To celebrate this, we’re showcasing the important work of California Thursdays, a collaboration between the Center for Ecoliteracy and a network of public school districts to serve healthy, freshly prepared school meals made from California-grown food. The following guest blog also highlights the inspiring work of the Center for Ecoliteracy, a partner with USDA’s national sodium reduction in schools-initiative, What’s Shaking? Creative Ways to Boost Flavor with Less Sodium.

By Jennifer Gerard, R.D., Center for Ecoliteracy, California Food for California Kids Program Director

What’s your favorite day of the week? For many students in California — it’s Thursday.

On Thursdays, over 1.7 million students in schools that participate in the California Thursdays program know they’ll be offered a lunch freshly prepared from California ingredients. California Thursdays is a celebration of local food, the people who produce and prepare it, and the significant connections that exist between children, food, and their environment. Read more »

Local Food – Cooking Up Creative & Fresh Ideas for Healthy Communities

Columbia Heights Farmers Market shoppers

Columbia Heights Farmers Market shoppers enjoy locally-produced food. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) grants are helping farmers markets implement creative programs to support local food producers and build healthy communities. Photo courtesy Mr T in DC.

Nutritional classes, purple beets, basil pesto and dark roast coffee – it’s not your father’s farmers market.  The entire local food system is maturing and farmers markets are offering more and more community-focused services. Many farmers markets now give their customers a chance to learn about locally-produced foods, in addition to buying and consuming them.

USDA is a proud partner and supporter of local and regional food systems through our programs, grants and technical services. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) grants are helping farmers markets implement creative programs to support local food producers and build healthy communities. One example of an AMS grant success story is Community Foodworks, which manages the Columbia Heights Farmers Market and six other markets across Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia. Read more »

MyPlate Turns Five! Celebrating New Resources in 2016

Happy Birthday MyPlate

MyPlate celebrates its 5th Anniversary during the month of June.

Since MyPlate’s debut in 2011, the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) has expanded and improved upon outreach efforts, continuously offering new resources and tools. This year is no exception, with the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPlate, MyWins campaign released simultaneously in January 2016. Let’s explore what else is in store!

MyPlate, My Wins Initiative

CNPP kicked off the year with the launch of MyPlate, MyWins, a consumer education initiative that translates the 2015- 2020 Dietary Guidelines into actionable messages for consumers. The campaign and its accompanying resources help consumers find solutions to overcome common barriers to healthy eating, such as time, budget, and cooking skills. The campaign aims to inspire Americans to make small changes to their food and beverage choices, gradually building to a healthy eating style that is realistic and works for them.  As the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines emphasize, it is a healthy eating style over time that has the biggest impact on health — not a single food, nutrient, or meal. Read more »