As Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service, I know that our 15 nutrition assistance programs help a wide variety of people around the country. But there’s nothing like getting out of the office to personally witness the boots on the ground efforts by those who administer and promote our programs on a daily basis. I recently traveled to the FNS Southwest Regional Office in Dallas to meet federal and state personnel and partners and to tour several centers that make up the first line of defense in creating our nation’s safety net against hunger.
One place that I found particularly impressive during my travel was the Dallas Community Baby Café, sponsored by the City of Dallas WIC program. The Women Infants and Children or WIC program provides aid to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding mothers, and their children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. Conveniently co-located next to a WIC clinic that serves over six thousand participants a month, the café is the newest member of a family of 12 centers located around the United States. It provides a relaxed, non-clinical place for pregnant and breastfeeding moms to get advice about lactation from professional and certified consultants free of charge. Read more »
Illinois field office director Brad Schwab examines a field of early planted corn in central Illinois. (NASS)
Of the many factors that make farming risky, weather is particularly important. With this year’s unseasonably warm March, some farmers are taking a risk they hope pays off in a big way. Despite the peril of a spring frost, many farmers are planting corn almost a month earlier than the usual mid-April planting dates.
As they wait to see what happens with the weather, these farmers, along with analysts, policymakers and others interested in U.S. agriculture, will pay close attention to the Crop Progress report issued weekly by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Read more »
An American Redstart sings from his perch deep within the Chippewa Flowage Watershed. Photo by Eric Olsen.
The Wisconsin Chippewa Flowage Forest Legacy project was selected March 15 to receive a U.S. Forest Service Wings Across the Americas award for their efforts in wild-bird habitat management.
Every year, the Forest Service recognizes outstanding work by partners and local Forest Service employees in conserving habitat for birds, bats and butterflies. This award highlights the outstanding partnership of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Trust for Public Land, and the U.S. Forest Service for work in land stewardship and bird conservation in northwestern Wisconsin. Read more »
Shearing time at Cider Hill Farm in North Haven Island. This photo will be featured in the online Maine Fiber Resource Guide. Photo courtesy of Maine Fiberarts, Topsham, Maine
In an age where shopping malls and retail establishments dominate many urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods, most people’s knowledge about fibers comes from their clothing tags. However, Maine Fiberarts is working hard to change this. Read more »
In the battle to preserve agriculture and the environment, Ben Shrader is Luke Skywalker and invasive species are Darth Vader.
Ben, a young man from central Texas, first became interested in invasive species after reading a newspaper article about plants wreaking havoc on native ecosystems. Also known as “Commander Ben,” he describes it as a “battle in nature, like good versus evil” and decided that he wanted to help the “good guys” win.
In his first of many spars with invasive species, Ben conducted a science fair project on giant reed (Arundo donax), an invasive plant that is damaging riparian ecosystems in his home state of Texas. But Ben didn’t stop there. Combining his love for filmmaking with his passion for science, Ben created a blog entitled “Commander Ben-The Invasive Hunter,” where he records his exploits and posts videos and other content to teach kids about the fight against invasive species. Read more »
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
To help those in need make ends meet, the Federal Government offers a variety of assistance programs. Some provide cash, but more offer in-kind assistance such as subsidized rents or assistance with home energy bills. USDA provides eligible households with in-kind assistance in the form of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits to buy groceries (formerly called the Food Stamp Program). But these benefits, and other in-kind assistance, are not counted as income when the Census Bureau calculates official poverty rates. Not accounting for these benefits understates the resources of U.S. families who receive them and masks the greater relative hardship of those who do not. Read more »