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Training the Next Generation of Top Chefs

Last fall I was honored to participate in the Job Corp’s Top Chef Competition held on at the Department of Agriculture (USDA).  I must say it was one of the most delicious assignments I’ve ever had!  The competition, inspired by Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, was a huge success.  Over 20 Food Service managers from Job Corps centers across the country competed in teams to showcase their culinary talents while applying healthy eating principles to their competition entries.

The Job Corps program is a residential education and training program that serves over 60,000 youth annually between the ages of 16 and 24.  Across 124 Job Corps centers, Food Service staff serves three square meals every day to our students.  Thus, it is critical to ensure our meals meet nutrition and health guidelines and requirements.  More importantly, we understand our role in promoting healthy lifestyle practices to our students, who will then apply what they learned in their independent lives after Job Corps. Read more »

Woodsy Owl Helps Kickoff Local School Recycling Program

Woodsy Owl and Forest Service staff members visited Braddock Elementary School in Fairfax County, Virginia on Friday, Jan. 14 to kickoff the school-wide Recycling Program.  Forest Service employees were part of a K-2nd grade assembly that focused on educating students about the four R’s—reduce, reuse, recycle and rot.

Tamberly Conway, Conservation Education Coordinator, along with Maritza Huerta from Sustainable Operations, gave a Spanish and English bilingual presentation to kids about how recycling benefits the environment. The students were also offered a hands-on opportunity to practice making compost, an essential part of the “rot” portion of the four R’s. Read more »

Winning the Future: Fuel Up to Fight Obesity

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Today I had the honor of joining some of our nation’s principal thought-leaders at the site of Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, Texas, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines an unprecedented private-public partnership committed to child health and wellness.  The co-signers included myself, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, NDC CEO Thomas Gallagher and Gen YOUth Foundation CEO Alexis Glick.  During the event, I unveiled a new television public service announcement (PSA) featuring a local favorite, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, that encourages youth to participate in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program.  The PSA was developed by the Ad Council in collaboration with Let’s Move!, USDA, NFL, NFL Player Association, and National Dairy Council, and will be distributed to stations nationwide this week. Read more »

USDA and Senator Brown Team Up to Fight Summer Hunger in Ohio

I never tire of meeting the organizations and individuals across our great country that help feed hungry children. In late January, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown teamed up with the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks to hold a summit on preventing child hunger in the summer.

The depths of winter might seem a strange time to discuss summer feeding programs, but good planning is essential to ensure that kids don’t experience hunger in the summer. So January was the perfect time for such meeting! Read more »

Peru-Ecuador Trade Mission Already Yielding Results

FFAS Acting Under Secretary Scuse and other members of the U.S.-Peru-Ecuador Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission to Lima, Peru, tour a greenhouse where aeroponics is used to grow potato varieties at the International Potato Center in Lima. Photo Credit: Victor Malpica

FFAS Acting Under Secretary Scuse and other members of the U.S.-Peru-Ecuador Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission to Lima, Peru, tour a greenhouse where aeroponics is used to grow potato varieties at the International Potato Center in Lima. Photo Credit: Victor Malpica

The first U.S. Agribusiness Trade and Investment Mission to Peru and Ecuador ended on a high note February 2. Over two days, 20 U.S. companies had the opportunity to meet face-to-face with dozens of Peruvian and Ecuadorian producers, processors, buyers, traders, and investors, who had come to form partnerships and develop trade relationships. I am pleased to report that some business deals have been finalized with more in process. The in-person contact provided by the mission has been absolutely essential to establishing a foundation for future trade. Read more »

Celebrating Washington, DC’s first Gold Award of Distinction in USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge

Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin W. Concannon (right) tries a few words of Spanish with Marlon DeBose (green shirt), and other students in this 2nd grade Spanish class seated at this table, in the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School, on Wednesday, February 2, 2011.  The school is the first Washington, D.C. school to achieve the Gold Award of Distinction from the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC).  They will now hold the certification and distinction for four years. The goal of the HUSSC is to improve the health of the Nation’s children by promoting healthier school environments. (U.S. Department of Agriculture photo by Lance Cheung)

Agriculture Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin W. Concannon (right) tries a few words of Spanish with Marlon DeBose (green shirt), and other students in this 2nd grade Spanish class seated at this table, in the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School, on Wednesday, February 2, 2011. The school is the first Washington, D.C. school to achieve the Gold Award of Distinction from the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). They will now hold the certification and distinction for four years. The goal of the HUSSC is to improve the health of the Nation’s children by promoting healthier school environments. (U.S. Department of Agriculture photo by Lance Cheung)

I had the pleasure of celebrating the top notch achievement of the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School as USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon and District of Columbia State Superintendent of Education Hosanna Mahaley presented this great school with a HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award of Distinction.  The award represents the highest honor a school can achieve in the Challenge and they couldn’t have done it without the committed leadership and staff at this special school.  This school is truly a role model and the award puts them on the map as the first school in the nation’s capital to earn the Gold Award of Distinction.  E.W. Stokes is a diverse pre-school and elementary school providing instruction in two languages.  Their unwavering commitment to sharing the benefits of physical activity and making good food choices is evident in everything they do! Read more »