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Feds Feed Families Helps End Hunger in Tennessee

The fourth annual Feds Feed Families food drive has come to a close and USDA employees helped to bolster local efforts to feed those in need in a big way.  USDA employees, farmers, and friends donated 2.77 million pounds of food this summer and the federal-government-wide total was 7.29 million pounds of food!  This week, USDA is recognizing the great work of its employees and community partners who volunteered to make the food drive a success.

Beyond donating much-needed perishable and non-perishable foods, USDA employees showed their generosity in other ways as well. As the Rural Development state office in Nashville, Tennessee demonstrated, donations of time can be very valuable in helping an organization in your community. Read more »

In South Dakota, Jackson County-Kadoka Economic Development Effort Moves Forward

With the assistance of a South Dakota USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG), the Jackson County-Kadoka Economic Development Corporation is closer to its vision of assisting residents and businesses in achieving their full potential to increase economic security. The grant will allow the development corporation to establish a revolving loan fund to grow and retain local businesses.

“This project provides opportunity and resources to support services in Jackson County. The partnership with Jackson-Kadoka Economic Development shows what can be accomplished when government and entrepreneurs work together to bring increased economic stimulus and jobs to rural South Dakotans,” stated USDA Rural Development South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks.  “The Obama Administration is committed to improving the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities.” Read more »

Forest Service and Partners Dedicate Improved Trail System in California

The Mary Road Bike Path gains nearly 1,000 feet of breathtaking elevation over 5.3 miles of Inyo National Forest land. US Forest Service photo.

The Mary Road Bike Path gains nearly 1,000 feet of breathtaking elevation over 5.3 miles of Inyo National Forest land. US Forest Service photo.

A ceremony Oct. 20 in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., marked the completion of a series of important federal, state, and locally funded trail projects, the official grand opening of the Mammoth Lakes Trail System, and the celebration of the agency partnerships that supported it. The project helped to create a network of trails from within the town of Mammoth Lakes going out to the surrounding public lands.

Several noteworthy long-term trails projects were honored including the completion of the Lakes Basin Path, and the wayfinding and interpretive signage that was installed along paths and trails in the area. Read more »

Prickly Plants Might Cleanse California Soil

Studies show prickly pear cactus could be a useful tool for absorbing unwanted selenium from soils in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Studies show prickly pear cactus could be a useful tool for absorbing unwanted selenium from soils in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

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.

It’s hard to believe that ancient seas once covered a large part of California’s San Joaquin Valley—until you check the soils. Read more »

An Advocate for Those in Need

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement on the passing of Senator George McGovern:

“Simply put, Senator George McGovern spent his life standing up for others. He honorably defended our nation during a time of war. He was a tremendous advocate for his home state of South Dakota and for all of rural America. He championed our efforts as a nation to help hungry people, especially children, around the world, leading the way on U.S. food assistance efforts that carry on today under his name and that of his friend, former Senator Bob Dole. As we honor Senator McGovern’s life, I know that his legacy will impact millions of people in the years to come – from the smallest South Dakota towns that he knew and loved, to countries in every corner of the globe.”

To watch former U.S. Senator George McGovern speak in a 1999 interview about what inspired him to work to end childhood hunger in America, please watch this video from the USDA archives. Read more »

Feeding Neighbors with Local Traditions

In many parts of the United States, the summer months are a time when food banks and pantries experience a higher demand alongside decreased donations.  As part of this past summer’s Feds Feed Families food drive, USDA employees in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, enthusiastically joined in the effort to help friends and neighbors struggling to put food on the table. The 28 members of the staff at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station include scientists, farmers and gardeners, as well as employees in supportive roles. As part of their research efforts, the USDA Tropical Research Center periodically harvests hundreds of pounds of green bananas at a time from experimental plots. Rather than let this healthy food go to waste, the office donates the bananas to a government-run nursing home in Mayaguez.  There the bananas are used to prepare traditional, local dishes.

Some of the dishes prepared with the donated bananas include pasteles, which are made from ground banana stuffed with meat or chicken, wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked.  Two other delicious dishes are bollitas, or small ground banana balls cooked with pigeon peas and served over rice, and serenata, a dish of boiled green banana served with codfish, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bananas are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium, are rich in Vitamins B6 and C, and make a delicious dessert or snack–just make sure to let them ripen first! Read more »