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Smart Grid to Help Kaua’i Island Utility Meet Renewable Goal

Today’s  White House’s release of the report, Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: Enabling Our Secure Energy Future, provides a path toward modernization of the electric grid and can help make our electric system more efficient by investing in technologies that can transform utility infrastructure.

A case in point is the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). Currently, diesel generators provide approximately 90 percent of KIUC’s electric power. The island of Kauai has no interconnections with other power systems. So to meet demand, the utility must generate all of its power. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Loan Guarantee Improves Access to Local Foods in St. Peter, Minn.

The St. Peter Food Co-op has been a valuable asset to the south central region of Minnesota for over 31 years. I realized just how valuable as I sat down to eat lunch at the co-op recently.

General manager Margo O’Brien had just given us a tour and hosted an event to publicly recognize the USDA’s role in financing the new facility. After signing the closing documents on a loan guarantee through nearby Wells Federal Bank and Rural Development’s Business & Industry loan guarantee program, it was time for lunch. Read more »

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley Sponsors 25 Feeding Sites this Summer

On May 26, I got to go back home to the Rio Grande Valley – the southernmost region in the continental United States – to help promote new sites for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The SFSP provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to help children in low-income neighborhoods get the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow, throughout the summer months when they are out of school.

My agency, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, along with our state partner, the Texas Department of Agriculture, collaborated with local leaders from the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley to bring SFSP feeding sites to the area, where unemployment figures are the highest in Texas and many families struggle to make ends meet. Read more »

How MyPlate Becomes Your Plate

#MyPlate photo by @UarewhatUeat

#MyPlate photo by @UarewhatUeat

Last Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary Vilsack, and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin unveiled the Department of Agriculture’s newest food icon, MyPlate. A simple visual cue, MyPlate is intended to remind Americans to think about building a healthy plate for every meal. That message includes making half of your plate fruits and vegetables, and balancing lean proteins with whole grains and fat-free and lowfat dairy. And while the icon itself serves as a helpful reminder of how to build a plate, we couldn’t wait to see how you would turn MyPlate into your plate. Read more »

Let’s Move! in Indian Country Launches on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin

A Menominee girl enjoys the sackrace fun with her classmate friends.

A Menominee girl enjoys the sackrace fun with her classmate friends.

More than 300 children joined the First Lady’s Office and other administration officials recently for the launch of Let’s Move! in Indian Country (LMIC) on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. The event took place at the Keshena Woodland Bowl, where the children played and exercised outdoors after tribal leaders welcomed the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Office, White House Domestic Policy Council, and the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services. Read more »

North Dakota Community Gathering Celebrates a New Fire Hall, Funded With Support from USDA

A crowd gathered last Sunday in the community of Almont, North Dakota, to celebrate the completion of the new fire and ambulance hall.  The weather was perfect for the firefighters to grill burgers and play music for all to enjoy.  The ceremony started with Frank Melchoir, Almont Rural Fire District’s president, recognizing all the partners who made the project possible.  Members of the rural community had generously donated money and land for the new, modern facility.  USDA Rural Development was also a crucial player providing a grant and loan

Jasper Schneider, USDA Rural Development State Director, addressed the crowd expressing the critical importance of timely emergency services.  “Seconds matter in emergency situations, it could mean the difference in saving the building or, more importantly, a life,” said Schneider.  He continued by thanking the volunteers for their service and heroic efforts and also congratulated them on their dedication in making this project happen. Read more »