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New USDA Grant Aimed at Improving Food Safety for Nation’s Kids

Millions of those who receive nutrition assistance from the federal government are children. Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our kids and so, at USDA, we are working to ensure that kids are being served safe, high quality meals.

To emphasize this priority, Secretary Vilsack has just announced that Kansas State University was selected to establish the Center of Excellence for Food Safety Research in Child Nutrition Programs.  Their important work will provide science-based support to improve the safety of USDA foods, particularly those served in schools and child care settings. Read more »

The “Little School That Could” Reaches Top

Students at F.S. Ervin Elementary School in Pine Hill, Ala., do Power Panther moves to celebrate their school’s HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction (USDA photo by Debbie Smoot).

Students at F.S. Ervin Elementary School in Pine Hill, Ala., do Power Panther moves to celebrate their school’s HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction (USDA photo by Debbie Smoot).

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Everyone has heard the children’s story of the “Little Engine that Could” that made the long journey to the top of the hill by pure determination and can-do attitude.  But have you heard the story about the “Little School that Could”? Read more »

Geographic Preference: Helping Schools Purchase Local Foods for School Meal Programs

USDA ramps up its support for farm to school programs.

The 2008 Farm Bill contained more support for local and regional food systems than ever before, with provisions such as a 5% set-aside within the Rural Development Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program and increased funding for the Farmers Market Promotion Program.  Farm to school efforts also received significant support as the Bill gave allowance for school districts to apply the option of a “geographic preference” when buying unprocessed locally grown or raised foods. Read more »

USDA Utilities Administrator Announces Support to Improve Electric Service and Provide Smart Grid Technology to Thousands of Colorado Residents

Jonathan Adelstein, USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities Administrator joined Colorado Rural Development Director Jim Isgar and representatives from Colorado’s congressional delegation for a ceremonial presentation at Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association, Inc. in Windsor, Colorado.

The entity was recently awarded a $43 million Rural Electric Loan to connect 2,069 new consumers while building 54 miles of new distribution line.  The funding is a win-win project for the co-op, the consumers are helped by offering a better and more reliable product and the co-op will be able to increase efficiency.  The loan will allow the entity to make improvements to 186 miles of distribution lines.   The project also includes $6.7 million in smart grid technologies, which will be used for technology, such as advanced metering and can provide data to consumers and utilities to better manage power use and costs. Read more »

Groundbreaking Ceremony for a Native Regional Health Center in Alaska-Funded through USDA and the Recovery Act

Dignitaries from the Southcentral Foundation were joined by Alaska local and state officials, and Senator Mark Begich last week for a groundbreaking ceremony marking the start of construction of a new primary health clinic to serve Alaska Natives in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and surrounding areas.  When completed, Alaska Natives living along the Parks and Glenn Highways will no longer have to make long drives to Anchorage to receive routine medical care.

The project was made possible through a direct loan and a guaranteed loan from USDA Rural Development and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act).  Besides providing construction jobs, the facility, when completed, will employ about 200 professionals. Services provided include primary medical care, dental, behavioral health, optometry, health education, wellness and traditional medicine. Read more »

Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat

“So, how fortunate are you?  Are you free?  Can you eat?”
-Excerpt from JCPA Hunger Seder Haggadah

On Thursday, April 14th, US Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon and several representatives from the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships joined Members of Congress and members of the anti-hunger community to observe an annual “Hunger” Passover Seder in an intimate gathering at the Capitol Visitors Center. Sponsored by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), this third annual Hunger Seder,  and over 40 others like it across 22 states, told the traditional story of oppression, struggle and ultimate liberation, but with a unique voice and group of participants.  Similar Hunger Seders were held across the country, coordinated by JCPA.  Collectively, the group reflected on an oppression still present in our communities today– that of hunger and poverty — and asked each person to renew their dedication to justice and pledge their efforts toward nourishing and protecting vulnerable people in our communities. Read more »