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School Garden Concept Plan Revealed to Students at Powell Elementary School

Cross posted from the Let’s Move blog:

Last month USDA facilitated a school garden design session and since that time, landscape architects Matt Arnn and Bob Snieckus have been working hard to incorporate parent, teacher and student ideas into an ideal plan that would transform the large expanse of asphalt at Powell Elementary School in Washington, DC into a People’s Garden.

Older students envisioned racecars, tree houses, spaceships and swimming pools at their school while younger students imagined rainbows and butterflies. Parents and teachers drew images of colorful flowers, fruits and vegetables, and quiet spaces for reflection and relaxation. Many of the garden designs incorporated an area for basketball and street hockey as well as covered areas to gather for meals and cultural celebrations. Read more »

Food Safety Professionals Teach 8th Graders about Preventing Foodborne Illness

I’ve worked for the Food Safety and Inspection Service for 21 years, and for the past six years, I’ve had the opportunity to help reduce foodborne illness in a unique way outside of my usual job description—by talking to local 8th grade science students about how to “Fight Bac!” My husband, Kirkland, also works for FSIS. I am a Case Specialist, meaning I deal with consumer complaints and product recalls within FSIS’ Springdale, Ark., district, while Kirkland is a Consumer Safety Inspector (CSI). When my niece was studying bacteria in her 8th grade science class, she mentioned to her teacher that several members of her family work every day to prevent harmful bacteria in our food supply. Intrigued, the teacher called and asked if I would discuss with the class my job and how foodborne pathogens can make people sick. Read more »

Conservation Programs Help Bring Farming Back to Suburbia

When Dina Brewster’s grandparents bought their place in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in 1936, the town was dominated by small farms. Many of those farms eventually disappeared to development, or were leased or abandoned. But now some are being revitalized—sometimes, as in Brewster’s case, by the grandchildren of the original owners.

Brewster is the first family member to farm the homestead since her grandmother ran it as a sheep farm. After her grandparents stopped farming, the land lay fallow for years and then was leased to another farmer. Brewster took over the farm in 2006 and set about converting it to a certified organic operation. Read more »

Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen Reaches Out to Employees to Improve FSIS

One of the things I started to do when I became Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA was to hold town hall meetings with Food Safety and Inspection Service field staff and Administrator Al Almanza. This week I had the pleasure of holding such a meeting with our headquarters staff in Washington.

I began the town hall meeting by asking a question: How many people in this country get sick every year from the food they eat? The answer is 48 million people – 1 in every 6 people. Of those, 128,000 will be hospitalized and 3,000 will die from something as basic as the food they eat. That’s a major public health issue, and the work we do is all about bringing those numbers down. Read more »

Forest Service Goal of Getting Kids Outdoors, Educating Young People Fits with Girl Scouts Legacy

In 1995, the Girl Scouts of the USA adopted “Linking Girls to the Land,” a program supported by the U.S. Forest Service and one that echoes the non-profit organization’s nearly decade-long legacy of helping to build girls of courage, confidence and character, and who make the world a better place.

On Saturday, March 12, as they have all week during National Girl Scout Week, the organization will honor founder Juliette Gordon Low, who organized the nation’s first Girl Scout Troop with just 18 girls in Savannah, Ga., 99 years ago. Congress chartered the Girl Scouts of the USA on March 16, 1950. Read more »

Creatively Expanding School Breakfast in the Midwest

First grader at Reavis Elementary School, a Chicago Public School, eats breakfast in the classroom. (School Breakfast Week, March 2009)

First grader at Reavis Elementary School, a Chicago Public School, eats breakfast in the classroom. (School Breakfast Week, March 2009)

More and more of the nation’s children are starting their school day well-nourished and ready to learn with a nutritious breakfast at school. Studies confirm the importance of breakfast in optimizing children’s learning, attendance and classroom behavior. Drawing a conclusion that our mothers knew all along – that breakfast matters! Read more »