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Getting Students Involved in Wellness

Students on a grocery store tour learn the importance of healthy choices.

Students on a grocery store tour learn the importance of healthy choices.

Today’s Cafeteria Stories contribution comes from Dr. Robert Lewis of the El Monte School District in Southern California.  Dr. Lewis describes the success that his urban school district has had with involving students in wellness.  His district currently has 14 schools with Silver HealthierUS School Challenge awards.

Guest post by Dr. Robert S. Lewis, SNS, Director of Nutrition Services, El Monte City School District (Calif.)

At El Monte City School District, our students are actively involved in setting wellness goals, mentoring others, and participating in taste tests.  For the past twenty years or so, the United States has seen a steady rise in childhood obesity and juvenile type 2 diabetes.  These are the epidemics of our time.  We can solve them.  But it will take all of us working together.  What does that mean or look like?  That means community members will need to become more involved in student wellness efforts at the school level as well as the municipal level. Read more »

Smooth Sailing to Grand Canyon West with the Hualapai Tribe

Hualapai Bird Dancers perform at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Diamond Bar Road. (USDA Photo)

Hualapai Bird Dancers perform at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Diamond Bar Road. (USDA Photo)

There were many things to celebrate about the newly paved nine-mile stretch of the Diamond Bar Road in Western Arizona, a road that links state and county roads to Grand Canyon West on the Hualapai Reservation. At the ribbon cutting celebration for the completed road, Tribal, state and federal officials all noted the obvious benefit of the paving: The trip for the thousands of visitors every year to Grand Canyon West would be smoother and faster. Hualapai Tribal member Rory Majenty, who emceed the road celebration, pointed out another benefit for tribal members, “We probably won’t have to buy a new truck every few years like we used to have to do because of the rough road!” Tribal members weren’t the only ones dogged by the undulating washboard road. Visitors and tour buses were plagued by flat tires, bent oil pans and hubcaps that flew off into the desert.

The Hualapai Tribe operates the popular Grand Canyon Skywalk over Grand Canyon West. The glass platform juts out in a horseshoe 70 feet over the canyon and is an attraction that draws over 700,000 visitors from around the world annually. Read more »

Missouri Farmers Bring Agriculture to Local Population

Show me farms!! Missouri has lots and lots of farming – almost 100,000 according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Check back next week for a focus on another state and the Census of Agriculture.

Show me farms!! Missouri has lots and lots of farming – almost 100,000 according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture. Check back next week for a focus on another state and the Census of Agriculture.

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Thanks to the fertile lands along the Missouri river, farming has always had a major presence in the Show Me State. As of 2012, only Texas has more farms than Missouri. The latest Census of Agriculture counted more than 99,000 farms in our state, which produced more than $9 billion in agricultural products, nearly equally divided between crop and livestock products.

Missouri farmers are always looking for innovative ways to connect our state’s residents with local agriculture and to find new markets. That’s why, in 2012, there were nearly 4,000 farms selling value-added products, such as cheese, preserves, or locally-produced wine. That year, 844 farms in Missouri also offered agritourism and other recreational services, such as hay rides. And for those residents who want to receive fresh local products, Missouri also had 291 farms participating in the local community-supported agriculture programs. Read more »

Donating Wholesome Unsold Food

Liability Concerns Stop Many Restaurants and Supermarkets from Donating Wholesome Unsold Food – Join USDA for a Nov. 12 webinar and learn more about Liability, Food Safety & the Good Samaritan Act.

Liability Concerns Stop Many Restaurants and Supermarkets from Donating Wholesome Unsold Food – Join USDA for a Nov. 12 webinar and learn more about Liability, Food Safety & the Good Samaritan Act.

14.3% of American households found it difficult to put food on the table at some time in 2013, yet 31% of food at the consumer and retail level goes uneaten (USDA ERS).  Of the estimated 133 billion pounds of food that goes uneaten every year, much of it is perfectly safe and nutritious and could have been donated to hunger relief organizations to feed hungry people.  Sadly, much of this perfectly good food ends up in landfills.

How can we change this situation? Many managers at farms, food processors, supermarkets, dining facilities, and restaurants say they are worried about donating wholesome unsold food because of fear of liability.  Some say they don’t have the proper food safety processes in place to handle food recovery and donation programs. Read more »

Streamlined Approach for Including a “Non-Genetically Engineered” Statement on Certified Organic Meat and Poultry Products

This is the twenty-first installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

Organic meat and poultry producers can now use a streamlined process to get approval for labels verifying that their products do not include genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released new procedures for including a “non-genetically engineered” statement on the label of organic meat and poultry products.  This is consistent with organic regulations, which have always prohibited the use of GE in all organic products.  Now, with the new process, it will be easier for certified organic entities to add these claims to existing FSIS-approved products, speeding up the label review process. Read more »

Two Years after Sandy: USDA Continues to Aid in Recovery and Disaster Prevention Efforts

Only the dock remains from a Bay Point, New Jersey residence after Hurricane Sandy hit.

Only the dock remains from a Bay Point, New Jersey residence after Hurricane Sandy hit.

About two years ago, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on several states in the Northeast, causing $68 billion dollars’ worth of damage to critical infrastructure, businesses, homes and landscapes. Since 2012, multiple agencies, including the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), have remained committed to helping the region build back stronger and better prepared for future storms.

To help the victims recover from Sandy and prevent future devastation in vulnerable flood areas, NRCS has invested about $120 million in Emergency Watershed Floodplain Easement Program, a program that helps restore and protect lands vulnerable to flooding. Read more »