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Farmers: We Need to Learn from You

Leanne Skelton, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Food Safety, FDA; Peter Furey, Executive Director, New Jersey Farm Bureau; Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Office of Foods, FDA; Dora Hughes, Counselor for Public Health and Science Policy, Department of HHS; Sharon Natanblut, Director of Strategic Communications, Office of Foods, FDA; Ann Wright, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, USDA; and Ronald Pace, District Director, New York District Office, FDA listen intently to farmer Bob Nolan from Deer Run Farm in Brookhaven, New York.

Leanne Skelton, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Food Safety, FDA; Peter Furey, Executive Director, New Jersey Farm Bureau; Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Office of Foods, FDA; Dora Hughes, Counselor for Public Health and Science Policy, Department of HHS; Sharon Natanblut, Director of Strategic Communications, Office of Foods, FDA; Ann Wright, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, USDA; and Ronald Pace, District Director, New York District Office, FDA listen intently to farmer Bob Nolan from Deer Run Farm in Brookhaven, New York.

Recently I visited the Deer Run Farm in Brookhaven, New York on a tour of farms across the nation to talk face-to-face with producers and growers about produce safety. Farmer Bob Nolan from Deer Run Farm invited us to walk through his fields so he could share with us his thoughts and concerns about how the government will shape a new produce safety rule. Read more »

Tackling Childhood Obesity with Fuel Up to Play 60

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford challenges Fuel Up to Play 60 participants to a milk drinking competition during the Student Ambassador Summit in Washington, D.C. (Photo Courtesy of fueluptoplay60.com)

St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford challenges Fuel Up to Play 60 participants to a milk drinking competition during the Student Ambassador Summit in Washington, D.C. (Photo Courtesy of fueluptoplay60.com)

As students across the country get back in school and we gear up for Monday Night Football, the Fuel Up to Play 60 program is ready for another action-packed year of nutrition and fitness events. An initiative that encourages kids of all ages to be healthy and active, the overall goal of the program is to tackle childhood obesity. Read more »

JCC Grows (Gardens)!

The A-B-C Garden at the Jewish Community Alliance of Jacksonville, FL helps support an early childhood curriculum.

The A-B-C Garden at the Jewish Community Alliance of Jacksonville, FL helps support an early childhood curriculum.

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

When the word community is in your middle name, it’s only natural to start gardens producing healthy, nutritious foods.  The Jewish Community Centers (JCC) Association has taken on the First Lady’s Let’s Move Faith and Communities challenge of growing community gardens. They have started JCC Grows, a healthy food and hunger-relief initiative involving the creation and/or expansion of community gardens at JCCs and JCC camps. Most of the produce grown is donated to emergency food providers to help those in need. JCC Grows also promotes fresh food collection drives and connects JCCs to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and farmers markets. Read more »

Bringing More Fresh Fruits and Vegetables to Schools

Locally grown fresh  vegetables and fruits are sliced and ready to students at Hebron-Harmon Elementary School in Hanover, MD.  The sign identifies the name of the local farm.

Locally grown fresh vegetables and fruits are sliced and ready to students at Hebron-Harmon Elementary School in Hanover, MD. The sign identifies the name of the local farm.

In 1996, only two schools nationwide bought food directly from farmers in their region through what are called farm-to-school programs. Today, these programs exist in over 2,000 U.S. schools – and a new pilot program in Michigan and Florida could send that number ticking quickly upward.

Farm-to-school programs are a win-win-win for America’s farmers and ranchers, our students, and our schools. Last year, members of USDA’s Farm-to-School team visited fifteen schools across the country to check out their programs and were amazed by what they saw: “Kentucky Proud” signs posted next to locally-sourced food in the cafeterias of Montgomery County, KY public schools; twenty local products for lunch at schools in the Independence, IA Community School District; students at Harrisonburg, VA public schools who knew the name of the farmer supplying lettuce for their salad bar. Read more »

Rural Champion Rebuilds A Five-Generation Family Farm with Help from a USDA Loan

Jacqueline and Glen Young, Young’s Greenhouse, Maine

Jacqueline and Glen Young, Young’s Greenhouse, Maine

Cross posted from the White House Rural Champions of Change website:

A five-generation family farm, Young’s Greenhouse was severely damaged in a tornado. Read more »

NRCS Employee Recognized

Roel Guerra, of Rio Grande City, Texas, was recently recognized by the Harlingen Region of the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services/Division for Blind Services (DARS/DBS).

Guerra was singled out for his commitment and hard work with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in helping landowners with conservation planning during a ceremony that honored NRCS as its 2011 Business of the Year.

Guerra, a 24-year NRCS employee who is legally blind and hearing impaired due to a hereditary eye condition that affects peripheral vision and hearing, was presented with a resolution from the State House of Representatives. The resolution, read by Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, recognized Guerra’s career as a soil conservation technician and planner, which has earned him an outstanding reputation among landowners in Starr County and Guerra’s peers. Read more »