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USDA and Partners Build a Healthier Next Generation!

Through partnership, FNS and NFSMI will work with school food authorities to identify challenges and provide nuanced resources to promote a healthier school day.

Through partnership, FNS and NFSMI will work with school food authorities to identify challenges and provide nuanced resources to promote a healthier school day.

As schools continue to move forward with serving healthier meals to tens of millions of our nation’s school children, there is a natural need for a model of sharing best practices. To provide that support, our partner, the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI), will pilot the Team Up For Success Training Initiative in the Food and Nutrition Service’s Southeast Region.

Through the initiative, schools will participate in a tailored training workshop and then enter into a peer-to-peer mentoring program designed to address their individual needs and resources.  The pilot will be conducted with about 48 school food authorities to help schools implement the updated meal requirements while maintaining financial stability and student participation.

We appreciate all that the NFSMI is doing to help build a healthier next generation.

By Katie Wilson, PhD, SNS Executive Director National Food Service Management Institute, The University of Mississippi

Team Up for School Nutrition Success is an exciting new initiative of collaboration between USDA and the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI) providing a peer to peer mentoring program for school nutrition directors. This first pilot in the Southeast Region includes over 100 attendees invited to discuss challenges, identify best practices, and learn about free resources available to them from a variety of allied organizations. Read more »

Rice Farmer Helps Migratory Birds, Cleans Water on Texas Coast

Private landowner Taylor Wilcox looks over flooded fallow rice fields on his Chambers County, Texas property. NRCS photo.

Private landowner Taylor Wilcox looks over flooded fallow rice fields on his Chambers County, Texas property. NRCS photo.

When 168,000 gallons of oil was reported to be spilled this spring into Texas’ Houston Ship Channel because of a collision between a barge and tanker, it was a reminder of the vulnerability of the Gulf of Mexico’s coastal wildlife and habitats.

The spill served to highlight the continued need for vigilance and proactive approaches in caring for the treasured Gulf Coast region. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is one federal agency working everyday with coastal landowners, farmers and ranchers on conservation efforts aimed at protecting, restoring and enhancing vital coastal resources and bird populations. Read more »

Excellence in Taste and Flavor: American Kobe-Style Beef

Highly prized for its rich flavor, Wagyu beef is among the finest beef in the world. USDA’s certification programs have successfully helped the industry market its brands with USDA integrity for over twenty years. Photo courtesy Premshree Pillai. Used with permission.

Highly prized for its rich flavor, Wagyu beef is among the finest beef in the world. USDA’s certification programs have successfully helped the industry market its brands with USDA integrity for over twenty years. Photo courtesy Premshree Pillai. Used with permission.

When consumers hear the term Kobe, the first thought that comes to mind is typically not a city in Japan, but rather a juicy steak right off the grill.  Kobe beef is globally renowned for its rich flavor, juiciness, and tenderness or high marbling content.  Kobe beef is cuts of beef from the Tajima strain of Wagyu cattle (which mean Japanese cattle), raised in Kobe, Japan.  But did you know you can find Kobe-style beef produced right here in the United States?

Since 1994, U.S. producers have worked to offer American Kobe-style beef that features the same characteristics, marbling and flavor that defines Japan’s Kobe beef by bringing herds of Kryoshi and Akaushi breeds of Wagyu cattle to the United States.  The same closed herd and multi-trait selection process used for Kobe beef was adopted and is now used by various U.S. trade associations (American Akaushi Association, the American Wagyu Association, and the Texas Wagyu Association) that promote and uphold the industry standards. Highly prized for their rich flavor, these cattle produce what some would argue is among the finest beef in the world. Read more »

Milwaukee Welcomes the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, Salutes Veterans

Smokey Bear helps to decorate the U.S. Forest Service’s tree in Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park during the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree trek to Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service)

Smokey Bear helps to decorate the U.S. Forest Service’s tree in Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park during the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree trek to Washington, D.C. (U.S. Forest Service)

Despite the rain and freezing temperatures, there was warmth and good cheer in the hearts of everyone who came out to catch a glimpse of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and help transform Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park into Community Spirit Park on Veteran’s Day.

The fanfare also helped to honor past and present members of the Armed Forces, some of who were on hand to see a holiday bedecked park with a 50-lighted tree, Milwaukee’s Color Guard waving American flags and a larger than life 90-foot tractor trailer parked nearby. Read more »

Helping Rhode Island Students Fuel Up to Succeed with Breakfast

Louis Escobar, Rhode Island Dairy Farmer and President of Rhody Fresh Milk, speaking to students at Ferri Middle School in Johnston.

Louis Escobar, Rhode Island Dairy Farmer and President of Rhody Fresh Milk, speaking to students at Ferri Middle School in Johnston.

The following guest blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting the efforts of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank them for sharing their stories!

By Jane Q Vergnani, Nutrition Specialist for New England Dairy & Food Council

As a transplant Rhode Islander – or as my 4-year-old daughter says, “Little Rhody’er” – who has lived, gone to school and worked as a nutrition specialist for the New England Dairy & Food Council in the state for over seven years, I am passionate about helping students succeed.

Through my work with Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school nutrition and physical activity program created by the National Dairy Council and the National Football League, in cooperation with the USDA, I have the opportunity to visit and work with many schools throughout Rhode Island. Read more »

Happy Birthday to Washington State!

With your senses set, imagine the smell of acres of apples.  Anticipate their crunch and sweet taste, or think of a baking apple pie – and then thank Washington State because they produce almost half of the apples grown in the United States.  Check back next week for another state highlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture!

With your senses set, imagine the smell of acres of apples. Anticipate their crunch and sweet taste, or think of a baking apple pie – and then thank Washington State because they produce almost half of the apples grown in the United States. Check back next week for another state highlight from the 2012 Census of Agriculture!

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Just a couple of days ago, on November 11, Washington celebrated its 125th anniversary of statehood, and farming has been one of the cornerstones of the Evergreen State since the very beginning. Using new information from the Washington Department of Agriculture, which is spotlighting farms that have been in the same family since before statehood, combined with the Census of Agriculture, we can easily see this connection.

The 1890 Census of Agriculture reported that apples were already Washington’s top fruit and the state’s dryland wheat farms were tremendously productive. Our farmers stay true to this tradition to this very day. Almost half of all apples grown in the United States come from our state. The 2012 Census of Agriculture counted nearly 175,000 acres of apple orchards in Washington. Read more »