Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Challenge Competition Brings Together Designers, Coders and Government for Innovation

Winning submissions of the E.A.T. School Lunch U.X. Challenge featured on contest website

Winning submissions of the E.A.T. School Lunch U.X. Challenge featured on contest website.

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) teamed up with techies across the nation to strengthen the integrity and improve the user experience of the National School Lunch Program application.  On December 1, 2015, we launched a public “hackathon” contest – the E.A.T. (Electronic Application Transformation) School Lunch U.X. Challenge – to tap into this country’s greatest resource: its people.

Designers and coders have been working furiously to develop a forward-thinking, web-based application for the school meal programs that would revolutionize the way households apply for free and reduced price meals.  Nearly 50 individuals, teams and organizations submitted electronic application prototypes, and a panel of five expert judges took to the task of selecting the winners. Read more »

ARS Helps Veterans Weigh a Career in Agriculture

Veterans participating in building a chicken hoop house

Veterans participate in building a chicken hoop house, which is used to house and move poultry across pastures. Participants are instructed and assisted by veteran mentor Terrell Spencer of Across the Creek Farm. Photo credit: USDA-ARS

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

For many veterans, agriculture may be a career choice worth exploring when they return to civilian life. Veterans have discipline, passion and a sense of service—qualities that would translate well for anyone interested in getting into agriculture.

That may be why a collaborative USDA training project is such a hit. The program, run by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their partners in Fayetteville, Arkansas, trains veterans in the basics of agricultural practices by offering workshops, online courses, internships and “Armed to Farm” boot camps at various sites, including the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. Read more »

USDA and MANRRS Help Cultivate the Next Generation of Agricultural Leaders

A USDA scientist teaching MANRRS students about tomato grafting

A USDA scientist teaches MANRRS students about tomato grafting at the High School Symposium.

Recently, the National Society of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) hosted its 31st National Career Fair and Training Conference. MANRRS is a non-profit organization that promotes academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences, and has more than 1,650 members in 38 states.  Welcoming people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, MANRRS works to increase diversity of talent in the field of agriculture.

As a longstanding partner with this organization, USDA helped sponsor the 2016 MANRRS conference, where over 950 participants from across the Nation gathered to discuss ways to grow the next generation of leaders. Participants ranging from high school students to professional members explored the latest developments in the agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences along with professional development, networking, and mentoring. Read more »

Veteran Now Serves Escondido Agriculture Community

Commander Everest and a landowner inspect an insect trap as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) conservation practice

Commander Everest and a landowner inspect an insect trap as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) conservation practice. NRCS photo.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is celebrating National Volunteer Week April 10-16, 2016, by thanking and honoring its Earth Team volunteers for their service to conservation.

After service in the U.S. Navy, that included deployment to Kuwait and Afghanistan, Commander Theresa Everest knew farming was her next step.

Two traumatic brain injuries ended her career with the Navy and lead her to Operation Warfighter―a Department of Defense internship program that matches qualified wounded, ill and injured service members with federal agencies to gain valuable work experience during their recovery and rehabilitation. Everest became an Earth Team volunteer with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »

New What’s Cooking? Recipes and Cooking Videos Help School Food Service and Home Cooks Make Mouthwatering Meals

Sesame Asian Noodle Chicken Salad

Sesame Asian Noodle Chicken Salad; a new USDA recipe just posted!

USDA’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services just released 50 new, mouth-watering recipes for schools chefs on our What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl website.  Some are existing USDA recipes that we’ve updated, while others are brand new recipes that students will love.  These tasty, kid-approved recipes are tailored for large quantity food service operations in 25, 50, or 100 portions.  And each recipe includes a nutritional breakdown as well as crediting information on how the recipe contributes toward updated meal pattern requirements for the National School Lunch Program and other USDA child nutrition programs.

The 50 recipes include main dishes and side dishes featuring more nutrient-rich ingredients such as whole grains, dark green and red/orange vegetables, and beans/legumes than ever before.  And an additional 150 recipes are being developed and will be posted throughout the next year!  These recipes will provide a ready-to-go resource for school nutrition professionals looking for delicious, nutrient-rich dishes that will make it easy to meet meal pattern requirements and satisfy hungry kids. Read more »

Helping Organics Grow with Clear Livestock and Poultry Standards

Proposed Rule Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices infographic

USDA has proposed changes to ensure consumer confidence in the growing organic market by promoting consistency across the organic industry, supporting the continued growth of the organic livestock and poultry sector. Click to enlarge.

The mission of the National Organic Program, part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), is to protect the integrity of USDA organic products in our country and throughout the world. This means clearly defining what it means to be organic and enforcing those rules.  Consumers look for and trust the organic seal because they know that USDA stands behind the standards that it represents.

Today, USDA is taking action by announcing that we will soon publish and invite public comment on a proposed rule regarding organic livestock and poultry practices.  It’s an important step that will strengthen consumer confidence in the label and ensure that organic agriculture continues to provide economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers, and businesses around the country. Read more »