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Children in the Rio Grande Valley Enjoy Summer Food and Fun

As summer time begins, I think of children playing with their friends and having a great time as they enjoy their vacation from school.  I am also very aware that some children may go hungry during the summer months.  Fortunately for children in the Rio Grande Valley on June 1, Catholic Charities began their second year providing meals to children up to age 18 through USDA’s Summer Food Service Program.  Catholic Charities is now providing summer meals in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties in South Texas.

Children select a few healthy options for lunch.

Children select a few healthy options for lunch.

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Dummy Power Lines Attract Doves to Sumter National Forest Dove Fields

High above the ground in a bucket truck, Blue Ridge Electric Co-op Lineman David Brown attaches a power line to a newly erected pole above the green fields of the Sumter National Forest’s Long Creek dove field. But instead of providing electric service to an outbuilding or an adjacent housing development, Brown’s hard work is aimed at improving the forest’s dove field.

Blue Ridge Electric Co-op is partnering with the forest to install “dummy” power lines at the dove field to make the area more attractive to doves, creating conditions for hunters to be more successful at bagging their game. Read more »

Connect Your Community With the Summer Food Service Program!

Do you know about the resources USDA has to help feed hungry children over the summer? The USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted a webinar as part of their Together We Can Partnership Series about the Summer Food Service Program to help connect individuals and organizations to the program.

Explained in the simplest terms, the Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded, state administered program that provides free nutritious meals to children in low-income areas. The program helps ensure children receive the nutritious food that they need during the summer.  Many children from low-income families rely on school meals during the school year and no longer have access to those meals in the summer.   The program operates when school is not in session, typically from the end of the school year in late May or early June until school resumes, usually late August or early September. Read more »

USDA Commends Today’s Environmental Protection Agency Action allowing E15 to be Used by Model Year 2001 and Newer Passenger Vehicles

At USDA we applaud today’s action by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that essentially completes the federal actions necessary to allow consumers to buy fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol (E15).  This announcement gets us one step closer to giving American consumers a real choice at the pump.  It also supports the “all –of-the-above” energy strategy, including production of renewable biofuels, implemented by the Obama Administration to help wean us off of imported oil.

The public has a right to choose between spending their money on imported oil or home-grown energy.   Today’s action by EPA helps break down the ethanol “blend wall” thereby potentially allowing more ethanol into the market.   Iowa State University has estimated that blending ethanol with petroleum keeps the price per gallon at the pump down by around a dollar a gallon.  This is a demonstration of the Obama Administration making good on its commitments to work to reduce foreign oil imports and increase domestic energy production. Read more »

Game On! USDA Launches Feds Feed Families 2012

On Monday I accepted the challenge for USDA to donate more than 1.8 million pounds of food this summer through the 4th annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive (FFF).  Game on!

If each USDA employee donates just two pounds of food per week, we will contribute more than 2 million pounds and help our hardworking neighbors put food on the table during these tough economic times.  FFF began four years ago to help fill a gap during the summer months, when food banks and pantries struggle with an increase in demand from families and individuals, but a decrease in donations.  Each year of the food drive, USDA employees have stepped up to the plate: in 2011, USDA employees organized over 2,000 food drives across the country and collected 1.79 million pounds of fresh and shelf-stable food.

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Secretary’s Column: Strengthening the Rural Economy

This has been an important week for the White House Rural Council – a partnership between multiple Federal agencies, created by President Obama last year to focus and coordinate our efforts to create jobs in rural America and support American agriculture.

We marked the one-year anniversary of the Council on June 11; and on the same day, the Rural Council released a report alongside the White House Council of Economic Advisors and USDA that notes significant progress in our efforts to grow the rural economy.  But President Obama and I also know that there’s more to be done. Read more »