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Let’s Move! in Action at the USDA Farmers Market and People’s Garden

Stephen Kendall, Food Donations Coordinator at DC Central Kitchen, and students from Powell Elementary School in NW, DC hunt for  herbs in the Truck Farm during the USDA Farmers Market and the official kick off of the People's Garden Friday activities on Friday, June 3, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Stephen Kendall, Food Donations Coordinator at DC Central Kitchen, and students from Powell Elementary School in NW, DC hunt for herbs in the Truck Farm during the USDA Farmers Market and the official kick off of the People's Garden Friday activities on Friday, June 3, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

In his opening remarks at this season’s first Department of Agriculture Farmers Market, held adjacent to our headquarters on the National Mall, Secretary Vilsack spoke about the national movement to rebuild our rural economy and connect urban communities with America’s farmers. The market—a bustle of activity with a crowd of shoppers purchasing produce, homemade preserves, and artisanal bread—was a festive celebration of that movement, but not the only attraction of the day! Read more »

Local Partnership Fosters Sustainable, Affordable, Livable Communities in Oregon

A volunteer crew helps construct a home in rural Oregon through the USDA Self Help Program.

A volunteer crew helps construct a home in rural Oregon through the USDA Self Help Program.

This month, one of our long-time and valued partners, Umpqua Community Development Corporation (CDC)—soon to be known as Neighborworks Umpqua—in Southwest Oregon, celebrates its 20th anniversary. It is fitting for this special event to occur during National Homeownership Month, since Umpqua CDC has partnered with USDA Rural Development on numerous affordable housing efforts, as well as economic development projects. This work has had a direct and profound impact on the livability, sustainability and economy of communities here in Southwest Oregon. Read more »

Smart Grid to Help Kaua’i Island Utility Meet Renewable Goal

Today’s  White House’s release of the report, Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: Enabling Our Secure Energy Future, provides a path toward modernization of the electric grid and can help make our electric system more efficient by investing in technologies that can transform utility infrastructure.

A case in point is the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). Currently, diesel generators provide approximately 90 percent of KIUC’s electric power. The island of Kauai has no interconnections with other power systems. So to meet demand, the utility must generate all of its power. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Loan Guarantee Improves Access to Local Foods in St. Peter, Minn.

The St. Peter Food Co-op has been a valuable asset to the south central region of Minnesota for over 31 years. I realized just how valuable as I sat down to eat lunch at the co-op recently.

General manager Margo O’Brien had just given us a tour and hosted an event to publicly recognize the USDA’s role in financing the new facility. After signing the closing documents on a loan guarantee through nearby Wells Federal Bank and Rural Development’s Business & Industry loan guarantee program, it was time for lunch. Read more »

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley Sponsors 25 Feeding Sites this Summer

On May 26, I got to go back home to the Rio Grande Valley – the southernmost region in the continental United States – to help promote new sites for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The SFSP provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to help children in low-income neighborhoods get the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow, throughout the summer months when they are out of school.

My agency, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, along with our state partner, the Texas Department of Agriculture, collaborated with local leaders from the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley to bring SFSP feeding sites to the area, where unemployment figures are the highest in Texas and many families struggle to make ends meet. Read more »

How MyPlate Becomes Your Plate

#MyPlate photo by @UarewhatUeat

#MyPlate photo by @UarewhatUeat

Last Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary Vilsack, and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin unveiled the Department of Agriculture’s newest food icon, MyPlate. A simple visual cue, MyPlate is intended to remind Americans to think about building a healthy plate for every meal. That message includes making half of your plate fruits and vegetables, and balancing lean proteins with whole grains and fat-free and lowfat dairy. And while the icon itself serves as a helpful reminder of how to build a plate, we couldn’t wait to see how you would turn MyPlate into your plate. Read more »