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North Dakota Community Gathering Celebrates a New Fire Hall, Funded With Support from USDA

A crowd gathered last Sunday in the community of Almont, North Dakota, to celebrate the completion of the new fire and ambulance hall.  The weather was perfect for the firefighters to grill burgers and play music for all to enjoy.  The ceremony started with Frank Melchoir, Almont Rural Fire District’s president, recognizing all the partners who made the project possible.  Members of the rural community had generously donated money and land for the new, modern facility.  USDA Rural Development was also a crucial player providing a grant and loan

Jasper Schneider, USDA Rural Development State Director, addressed the crowd expressing the critical importance of timely emergency services.  “Seconds matter in emergency situations, it could mean the difference in saving the building or, more importantly, a life,” said Schneider.  He continued by thanking the volunteers for their service and heroic efforts and also congratulated them on their dedication in making this project happen. Read more »

USDA in Ohio Hosts Flex-Fuel Event to Encourage Applications for Renewable Energy Projects

Last month, USDA Rural Development in Ohio hosted another event in the “Flexible Fuels Roadshow” aimed at broadening awareness of Secretary Vilsack’s objective of deploying 10,000 flexible fuel pumps into the nation’s motor fuel delivery system by 2015. As part of USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), eligible applicants can now apply for funding for flex-fuel pumps, in addition to other energy producing and saving projects.  For the first time, gas station and convenience store operators across the country can qualify for a package of REAP funding to support the purchase and installation of flex-fuel pumps and related infrastructure.

According to Rural Business-Cooperative Administrator Judith Canales, grants are available to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install flexible fuel pumps that offer Americans more renewable energy options. She wanted to make certain that everyone is aware of the variety of assistance USDA Rural Development provides to help businesses create jobs and become more energy efficient. This assistance builds on the Obama Administration’s commitment to win the future by ensuring the nation develops innovative ways to meet our future energy needs. Read more »

Land O’Lakes Providing Food Aid, Ensuring Food Security In Zambia

It was quite an active week as I represented the USDA at the 10th annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum.  While in Zambia, I had the opportunity to see firsthand a USDA-funded food assistance program in action.  This included a Local and Regional Procurement (LRP) Pilot Project that is providing monthly food baskets to households impacted by HIV/AIDS.  LRP is designed to use local and regional purchasing to help meet urgent food needs in developing countries and in areas faced with food crises and disasters.

The Zambia Local and Regional Procurement Program (ZLRP) is a yearlong project providing nutritional food to nearly 10,000 rural households that care for orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia’s Chongwe, Chibombo and Mumbwa districts. Land O’Lakes is working with World Vision to implement the project with USDA funding. The food these households receive allows them to leave their crops in the ground until they are fully ready to harvest, and thus are more nutritious.  This in turn enables the families more time and energy to pursue other activities to improve their livelihoods and quality of life. Read more »

Let’s Move! to Feed Hungry Kids this Summer

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Let’s Move! Faith and Communities conference call in the First Lady’s Office at the White House, Nov. 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Let’s Move! Faith and Communities conference call in the First Lady’s Office at the White House, Nov. 29, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Most kids get excited about summer vacation. But for those who depend on school lunch and breakfast for their main meals of the day, they’re not as excited about summer. Unfortunately, hunger doesn’t take a vacation. Without cafeterias as the natural gathering point, congregations and community organizations are where kids can gather and get a meal this summer. Read more »

Ninety Year Old Volunteers Make an Environmental Impact in North Dakota

Earth Team Volunteers  Lyla Schulz and Jean Herauf (L to R) prepare a conservation mailing to famers in the Dickinson, N.D., NRCS office.

Earth Team Volunteers Lyla Schulz and Jean Herauf (L to R) prepare a conservation mailing to famers in the Dickinson, N.D., NRCS office.

Two women have been helping make an environmental impact in Stark County, North Dakota for nearly two decades. Lyla Schulz, 91, and Jean Herauf, 90, have each volunteered over 1,000 hours doing routine office work to allow conservationists with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to spend more time working directly with farmers and ranchers. Read more »

During Homeownership Month, Nevada Celebration Brings Home Message of Community, Security, and Jobs

On a chilly, gray morning, under the shadow of the still challenging Nevada economy, more than 70 people gathered in the beautiful Nevada State Capitol building to share with each other why it remains so important to keep the dream of homeownership alive. In the majestic and historic Old Assembly Chambers, homeowners, realtors, and lenders active in USDA Rural Development Direct and Guaranteed Home loan programs participated in a two part event, as Nevada Rural Development State Director Sarah Adler put it: “recognition and revenue.”

Jeff Bishop, a homeowner from Washoe County, won the heart of the crowd with his simple eloquence. Jeff is a high school janitor, a musician, a family man. His wife Brooke and their two daughters, Emma and Rose, stood proudly by him, grinning, showing off their hand-drawn poster of their new home. Read more »