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USDA Consults with Latino Faith Leaders on Ways to Address Hunger

USDA officials address leaders from faith-based organizations at consultation on outreach to the Latino community

USDA officials address leaders from faith-based organizations at consultation on outreach to the Latino community

In early October, USDA’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships was honored to host a dozen Latino faith leaders to our “Tuve Hambre y Me Diste de Comer” (“For I was Hungry and You Fed Me”) consultation on improving Latino outreach. USDA studies show that 1 out of 4 Hispanic households in the US are food insecure and that this number is only growing. The situation is well-known among these leaders whose congregations and organizations are on the front lines of serving those threatened by hunger. Read more »

Rural America has Plenty to Share with Global Partners

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack accompanied by Pakistani Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Afghan Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi during their visit to the Keith and Sue McKinney’s farm in Colo, IA, on Wednesday, October 13, 2010.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack accompanied by Pakistani Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Afghan Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi during their visit to the Keith and Sue McKinney’s farm in Colo, IA, on Wednesday, October 13, 2010.

The little farming town of Colo sits just east of Ames, Iowa, in the central part of the state. It’s harvest season here. Farm families are trading shifts in their combines to harvest their crops before winter. Rows of soybean and corn stubble disappear into the yellow and brown rolling hills. Folks are hard at work, but some pause and begin to collect at Keith and Sue McKinney’s farm when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack arrives, followed by Pakistani Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Afghan Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi. Secretary Vilsack invited Ministers Gondal and Rahimi to be his guests in Des Moines at the World Food Prize, and their meeting all together at the Colo farm was their first since May 2009 in Washington. Still, folks were standing around asking: What does Colo have to do with Afghanistan and Pakistan? But, as Secretary Vilsack, the McKinney family and faculty from Iowa State University explained, Colo could be a model not only for Afghanistan and Pakistan, but developing agricultural economies around the world. Read more »

NASS to create a new National Operations Center

Charles F. Prevedel building, the site of the new NASS National Operations Center

Charles F. Prevedel building, the site of the new NASS National Operations Center

For the past several years USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) has worked on transforming our agency by raising the already high level of service even higher. Today we took the next step in this transformation by creating the new National Operations Center in the Overland, Mo., which is close to the St. Louis metro area. Read more »

Give: Every Day, Every Way. USDA Kicks Off the 2010 Combined Federal Campaign

Opening ceremonies for the 2010 Combined Federal Campaign held on the Patio of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, October 12, 2010.

Opening ceremonies for the 2010 Combined Federal Campaign held on the Patio of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, October 12, 2010.

Yesterday marked the official launch of the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) at USDA for the Washington, D.C. metro area. This year, USDA has set a goal of raising just under $2 million from our employees in the national capital area. We have chosen the theme Give: Every Day, Every Way, as it resonates with the range of giving options available to employees. The kickoff was an exciting event featuring more than 20 CFC registered non-profit organizations. Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and I led off the event by speaking movingly about the ways that non-profit organizations touch all of our lives in critical and transformative ways. Read more »

Members of Maine’s Native American Tribes Share Views with USDA Deputy Administrator on Substantially Underserved Trust Areas

Aroostook Band of Micmacs Cultural Director John Dennis performed a smudging ceremony for attendees at the Tribal Consultation. In the photo are John Dennis and USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel

Aroostook Band of Micmacs Cultural Director John Dennis performed a smudging ceremony for attendees at the Tribal Consultation. In the photo are John Dennis and USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel

Maine USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel welcomed the Deputy Administrator for Rural Utilities (RUS) Jessica Zufolo to Maine this week for an important tribal consultation meeting with leaders of Maine’s Native American tribes. Read more »

Deputy Secretary Presents HealthierUS School Challenge Gold of Distinction Award to the Academy of Global Citizenship

Deputy Secretary Merrigan listens as two students from the Academy of Global Citizenship explain what they feed their chickens and why.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan listens as two students from the Academy of Global Citizenship explain what they feed their chickens and why.

An organic breakfast featuring vanilla spiced whole oats, scrambled vegetable tofu, organic milk and local pears, followed by morning yoga in the classroom, a student-led garden tour and a visit to the chicken coop… what a wonderful way to spend a Tuesday morning!  That day, I had the pleasure of attending a special ceremony with Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan at the Academy of Global Citizenship (AGC) in Chicago where she presented them with USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) Gold of Distinction Award, the HUSSC’s highest honor.  It was easy to see why they are the first school in Chicago and the entire Midwest to receive such an honor. Read more »