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Team Up for Success! USDA and Partners Help Secure a Healthier School Day

With kids now back in the classroom, USDA wants to help schools continue to build a healthier, more nutritious environment for their students.  At the same time, we’re deeply committed to ensuring these same schools maintain financial stability and strong student participation in their meal programs.  We’re seeing more and more schools move forward with new and innovative healthy school meals, but we also understand there is a need to share best practices across the country.

Thanks to our partners at the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI), we hope to fill that void.  To make this a reality, the group will pilot the Team Up For Success Training Initiative with the assistance of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Southeast Regional Office.  Together, they’ll work with school food authorities (SFAs) to identify challenges and provide nuanced resources to promote a healthier school day. Read more »

USDA Works to Bring Conservation, Other Assistance to a Remote Georgia Island

One of the major partners in the Sapelo Island Red Pea Project is SICARS which has a facility on Sapelo Island. NRCS photo.

One of the major partners in the Sapelo Island Red Pea Project is SICARS which has a facility on Sapelo Island. NRCS photo.

Sapelo Island off the coast of Georgia has a handful of residents, some of whom make their living raising livestock, farming produce and managing forests. While the barrier island is isolated and only accessible by ferry or private boats, USDA agencies in Georgia recently held a meeting on the island to talk about available assistance.

“This workshop was a great opportunity for many of our partner agencies to come together to meet these coastal area residents, discuss their needs and provide information and assistance to a group of individuals that have worked very little with us in the past,” said Karri Honaker, a district conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »

Supermarkets and Restaurants Are Fighting Food Waste & Saving Money

Food donated from local restaurants and supermarkets through coordination with the Food Donation Connection is used to make delicious & healthy meals served in homeless shelters and food pantries. Photo courtesy of Food Donation Connection.

Food donated from local restaurants and supermarkets through coordination with the Food Donation Connection is used to make delicious & healthy meals served in homeless shelters and food pantries. Photo courtesy of Food Donation Connection.

Thirty-one percent of food that is available at supermarkets, restaurants, and in households goes uneaten – food that was nurtured and harvested in the fields and ends up in a landfill.  Increasingly food processing facilities, food service companies, supermarkets, and restaurants are recognizing the need to reduce, recover, and recycle all of this wasted food.  The momentum is building as more and more address the problem and take action to keep good food from entering landfills.

A week from today – on September 24, Wednesday at 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm Eastern – you can join us for a webinar on “Supermarkets and Restaurants Fighting Food Waste and Saving Money” that will feature industry representatives discussing how they are leading the fight against food waste.  There will also be time devoted to dialogue, Q&As, and the sharing of resources. Read more »

Do YOU Have a Plan for Your Livestock Should Disaster Strike?

Cows on small farm.

Cows on small farm.

Last year brought some interesting weather to our country. A multi-day severe weather event included an EF3 tornado that carved a 68-mile path from Mississippi to Alabama.  Parts of Colorado had flooding so severe it destroyed thousands of homes, and wiped out 200 miles of state roads and 50 state bridges.  Winter Storm Nemo dropped a record snowfall of 31.9 inches in Portland, Maine.  And, California recorded its driest year ever—fueling wildfires that burned some 8,000 acres in Southern California.

Any disaster, whether it’s a flood, tornado or earthquake, can catch you off guard and leave you in danger. It’s important to have an emergency plan in place for your family. And if you raise livestock, an emergency plan is important as well.  Using the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) procedures to prepare now, you can quickly and easily safeguard your livestock when disaster strikes. Read more »

Raymore Peculiar Achieves Salad Bar Success with “Rainbow Days”

The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank them for sharing their stories!

By Wendy Moraskie, USDA Food and Nutrition Service

Every year the schools in Missouri’s Raymore Peculiar R II district celebrate their salad bars during “Rainbow Days.”  Thanks to the staff’s efforts to use local farmers markets, students throughout the district see fresh peppers, squash, onion, zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, green beans, corn on the cob, peaches, apples, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, watermelon and more.

“Whatever’s in season, they’ll try it,” said District Food Service Director Colleen Johnston, “our kids are good experimenters.”

Missouri schools hold Rainbow Days celebrations and feature the abundance of bright colors at their salad bars as a way of encouraging students to eat a variety of foods.  To help promote the events, schools can qualify for a $200 stipend. Read more »

USDA Smokey Bear Paintings on Display for First Time

Nature's Gold Medal Winner, Rudy Wendelin painting, 1988.

Nature's Gold Medal Winner, Rudy Wendelin painting, 1988.

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.

If you hear a deep resonant voice and the words, “Only YOU…,” you probably could complete the iconic words, “…can prevent forest fires.” More than seven in ten adults in the United States would recognize Smokey Bear and know his message, according to a 2011 Ad Council survey.

Now some of the illustrations that helped create the image we most associate with Smokey, who celebrates his 70th anniversary as spokesbear for the U.S. Forest Service (FS) this year, are on display for the first time. Nineteen original paintings by Virginia artist Rudolph Wendelin from USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) Smokey Bear history collection are being featured in an exhibit at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia. Read more »