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With USDA Help, a Nebraska Mom gets a House

Katie Bowens and her family had been renting an apartment for five years. They wanted a chance to have a home of their own. The Norfolk Housing Agency (NHA) directed Katie to USDA Rural Development in an on-going partnership effort.

The City of Norfolk, acting through NHA, notified the local USDA Rural Development office of a Community Revitalization program they were working on.  They thought Katie would be a perfect fit. The City had received funding from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) in 2007 and 2008. These grants, written and administered by the Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District (NENEDD), are available to demolish dilapidated properties within the city limits. They also allow funds to be allocated to low-to-moderate income families in the form of construction subsidies and down payment assistance. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Makes New Library Dream a Reality for a Small Kentucky Community

Despite below-freezing temperatures and high-wind advisories, more than 50 residents of Hardinsburg and Breckinridge County, Kentucky, turned out recently to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new public library. The crowd included local high school students, city and county officials, library board trustees and members and local law enforcement. Read more »

Inspiring Kids to a Healthier Future

Last week, Secretary Vilsack traveled to Dallas, Texas, home of Superbowl XLV, to meet with officials from the public and private sectors to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining a commitment to enacting healthy solutions to childhood obesity under Fuel Up to Play 60 .This partnership represents an unprecedented pledge to our kids to help get them moving toward physical fitness and health, a key element of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative. Read more »

Kudos to Chicago’s High School Top Chefs!

Richards Career Academy winning team

Richards Career Academy winning team

On January 24, 2011, a wintry day in Chicago, 20,000 high school students in the Chicago Public Schools were treated to a prize-winning, delicious and healthy school lunch created by their fellow students.  Topping the menu was Afro-Caribe Plancha (Cuban turkey, black beans, provolone cheese and marinated cucumbers baked in a whole grain pizza crust), along with Soup of Sunshine (yellow squash, bell pepper, tomatoes, apples, bananas and peanut butter with cilantro and spices), and Caribbean Crunch Salad (julienned oranges, cucumber apple, cilantro, orange juice and black pepper). Read more »

Volunteers Create a Buzz in Indiana

Members of the John M. Craddock Wetland Nature Preserve Team construct a walkway through a wetland in Muncie, Ind.

Members of the John M. Craddock Wetland Nature Preserve Team construct a walkway through a wetland in Muncie, Ind.

Volunteers are helping to turn an old industrial area of Muncie, Indiana into a wetland where wildlife thrive and people can connect with the outdoors.

Since the John M. Craddock Wetland Nature Preserve Team started its work on the site in 2009, wildlife has moved in, plants are flourishing and insects are buzzing. Now, the buzz in Indiana is about a national award recently presented to the volunteers. Read more »

ERS 50th Anniversary Session at 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) will kick off its 50th anniversary celebration with a special session at the Agricultural Outlook Forum this month.  The session will highlight ERS’ role as a resource for policymakers and for those advancing debates in the areas of food economics, rural development and natural resources, and markets and trade. In addition, the expert panel will share their thoughts on what questions will shape ERS research in the years to come.  Read more »