This article was originally posted on ServiceNation.org. Read the original here.
As Secretary of Agriculture, I take USDA’s nickname of the “People’s Department”—first coined by President Abraham Lincoln—to heart. Over the past five years, we have worked hard to build upon our tradition of service to the American people, supporting both the farmers and ranchers who grow our food and giving American families confidence that the food they buy at the grocery store is safe, healthy and affordable.
We could not accomplish our mission without the contributions of partner organizations and individual volunteers across the country. While our work with volunteers is by no means exclusive to nutrition and nutrition education, volunteers act as our boots on the ground in classrooms and communities to teach kids about where food comes from and why the diet and lifestyle choices they make today matter for their future. Volunteers, along with parents, teachers, school administrators, and school food service professionals, are absolutely critical to our efforts to improve childhood nutrition and help this generation of youngsters grow up healthy and strong. Read more »
First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Chefs join children from Bancroft and Tubman Elementary Schools to harvest vegetables during the third annual White House Kitchen Garden fall harvest on the South Lawn, Oct. 5, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
It may still be cold outside, but it doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about your spring garden. Whether you’re planning a school garden or have the perfect plot of land in your backyard, Let’s Move! has all the tools you need to get started! Gardening not only stocks your kitchen with all-natural fruits and veggies rich with nutrients, it can be a great way to give your kids a hands-on lesson in healthy eating. Read more »
The People's Garden Harvest Festival poster. Click to enlarge for larger version.
You’re invited to the USDA Harvest Festival on Friday, November 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Come celebrate the end of the growing season in the People’s Garden and at the USDA Farmers Market. Take advantage of the last opportunity of the year to shop the outdoor USDA Farmers Market located along 12th Street, SW in between Jefferson Drive and Independence Avenue in Washington, DC.
The day will be filled with fun activities and educational demonstrations that are free and fun for the whole family. Here’s a list of the planned events: Read more »
RISE Volunteers with the People’s Garden national leadership team at Grandview Elementary School
In 2011, Washington State University won a USDA People’s Garden School Pilot Project grant. The University used the funds to start the “Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth” project, a multi-year research project that engages elementary students in creating edible gardens in schools across the country. School gardens are an effective way to introduce kids to healthy foods and create a passion for agriculture and Washington State is helping lead the way. We’re excited to provide an update on how the project is going. The following post was written by Brad Gaolach, the Project Director for the program.
Guest post by Brad Gaolach, Project Director, Washington State University Extension
Grandview Elementary School in Monsey, NY is one of 50 schools across the U.S. taking part in USDA’s People’s Garden School Pilot Project – “Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth” (HGHY). This research and education project aims to understand the impact of school gardens on fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, science and math learning, and other outcomes.
Grandview Elementary also enjoys a unique partnership with another research project: “Retirees in Service to the Environment,” or RISE. Created by Cornell’s Institute for Translational Research on Aging, RISE provides opportunities for older adults to become involved in local environmental projects. Research has shown there are greater mental and physical health benefits from environmental volunteering compared to other types of service. As environmental stewards, older adults not only gain from being engaged in civic issues, they also contribute their knowledge and passion to sustaining the environment for future generations. Read more »
(L to R) DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C. Rich Holcomb employee, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Brian Lounsbury, and USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Dewell Delgado Paez stand with a bin of just washed bok choy that was grown USDA headquarters Peoples Garden in Washington, D.C. USDA photo.
Every week USDA employee volunteers pick ripe herbs and vegetables from the Headquarters People’s Garden and deliver it to DC Central Kitchen, a local community kitchen. So far this growing season more than 1,000 pounds of fresh food has been donated from the garden. This week’s harvest weighed in at 175 pounds and included 84 pounds of bok choy.
Our volunteers wanted to know what becomes of the food they’ve worked so hard to grow, pick and donate – particularly all that bok choy. That’s why yesterday morning they rolled up their sleeves in the Kitchen to learn how the food donated from the garden each week is made into delicious and nutritious meals. USDA employees worked alongside DCCK cooks to prepare trays of bean burritos (with chopped bok choy inside) and Spanish rice that are being delivered to partner agencies in the Washington metropolitan area, including homeless shelters, rehabilitation clinics, and afterschool programs today. Read more »
As part of the Food Waste Challenge USDA employees are working together to reduce the amount of food waste at our Headquarters office in Washington, DC. Currently 2,400 pounds of food and paper waste is recycled from our cafeteria each week. Our goal is to increase that by 5% to at least 2,520 pounds of waste by the end of Fiscal Year 2014.
Food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste going to landfills, accounting for over 20% by weight. USDA headquarters employees are reducing food waste every time they eat in the cafeteria. Many of the items they use, such as plates, bowls, trays, paper cups, napkins, utensils and clamshells, are compostable. The headquarters cafeteria and hallways are equipped with compost bins that are specially designed for all food waste, including meat and dairy products. The bins are emptied several times each day and the waste is transported to a waste pulping system in the basement. Read more »