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First BCAP Project Area Aims to Reduce American Dependence on Foreign Oil

In an announcement released this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack established the first Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) Project Area to promote the next generation of biofuels.

The announcement comes as Americans are pinching pennies due to gas prices climbing to over $4 a gallon. “Reducing our dependence on foreign oil and getting a handle on out of control gas prices will require investments in projects like we are announcing today,” said Vilsack. Read more »

On a Rooftop in the City, Grows Hope

Rooftop vegetable garden is ready for planting at Bread for the City in Northwest Washington, DC, on Friday, April 29, 2011.

Rooftop vegetable garden is ready for planting at Bread for the City in Northwest Washington, DC, on Friday, April 29, 2011.

Last week, Secretary Vilsack stopped by Bread for the City and joined National and Community Service CEO Patrick Corvington and Bread for the City President George Jones to underscore the administration’s commitments to ending hunger in America. Read more »

Champions of Change: Moving Chefs to School in New Haven, Connecticut

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to join 5 chefs from across the country, all of us being recognized as a Champion of Change. Working together as a team the six of us joined in a discussion with Under Secretary Kevin Concannon and Chef Sam Kass to discuss opportunities and challenges of the Chefs Move to Schools, a program of the Let’s Move! initiative.

The true spirit of Chefs Move to Schools (CMTS) is to engage children in their classroom through food. The program has morphed into a fun and educational program benefitting both school children and school nutrition professionals. One practice that is becoming popular is to have the program benefit both these groups; first by getting kids excited by a chef demo then having the chef step into the school kitchen, not to comment about the food, rather to work hands on with the kitchen staff to help re-educate them on basic kitchen skills. This quick educational lesson is often welcomed by the staff who see it as an opportunity to network with a local chef. Engaging organizations is important to seeing through with the success of CMTS. The American Culinary Federation, School Nutrition Association and Share Our Strength are the top three organizations involved to see through with the success of CMTS. Read more »

People’s Garden Partnership Grows to New Heights in Delaware

Entire group of participants weeds and removes leaves from the adjacent rain garden.

Entire group of participants weeds and removes leaves from the adjacent rain garden.

Vegetables aren’t the only thing you’ll see growing at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) People’s Garden in Delaware – partnerships are growing too. To commemorate Earth Day, students from Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) at Delaware State University (DSU), and a representative from the Partnership for Delaware Estuary joined NRCS employees in a clean-up and planting day aimed at restoring this NRCS People’s Garden for the upcoming 2011 growing season. Read more »

Iva, South Carolina Celebrates Rural Development Funding on Earth Day

USDA Rural Development State Director, Vernita F. Dore announced an award of more than $3.1 million to the Town of Iva for sewer improvements as part of an Earth Day celebration in Iva, South Carolina.  After the ceremony, Ms. Dore, Town of Iva Mayor Bobby Gentry and members of the Crescent High School Future Farmers of America commemorated Earth Day by planting a Japanese red maple tree outside the Iva Civic Center.

Earth Day is observed annually on April 22nd to raise awareness about the role each person can play to protect vital natural resources and safeguard the environment. Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the event has expanded to include participation by citizens and governments in more than 195 countries. Read more »

AMS Continues Successful Relationship with Local School

As part of a flourishing partnership, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently hosted students from Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC) in Washington, D.C., for what proved to be an action-packed shadowing day at USDA Headquarters.

From this local high school to the most remote rural areas, AMS is answering Secretary Tom Vilsack’s call to develop a diverse workforce by teaching students about careers in agriculture. Read more »