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Going Mobile: Co-ops operate traveling slaughter units to help grow local foods movement

Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative was founded because small livestock producers' livelihoods were threatened by having to travel long distances to slaughterhouses. The Washington based slaughter unit operates at three venues on a weekly or semi-weekly schedule.

[Note: the following is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in the November/December issue of Rural Cooperatives, a magazine published by USDA Rural Development]

Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative has been operating for just over a year, with a roll of 60 voting members in nine contiguous counties, and another 30 associate members. Read more »

2011 Healthy Birds Calendar Tips to Poultry Owners

Backyard poultry owners will find colorful chickens and turkeys, as well as ducks, parrots and some grand geese among a 12-month spread of domestic, wild and exotic birds in the 2011 Backyard Biosecurity calendar.  They’ll also find a year’s worth of solid information to help them raise healthy birds and keep them free from disease.

The calendars are widely distributed throughout the country by USDA, particularly through extension service.  “In Arkansas, we distribute the calendars at many poultry activities,” said Dr. Fred Dustan Clark, director of Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service in the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas.  “We use them at our pullet chain (when chicks are delivered to 4H students) all over the state, when we do seminars for 4H, at Farm Days and we put them in feed stores,” Clark added. Read more »

Idaho Residents Receive Improved Fire Protection Services thanks to USDA Recovery Act Funds

Wow, the first emergency call out of the new fire station.  As I pulled into the driveway of the new Heyburn, Idaho, Fire Station for the ribbon cutting, I was greeted with the red lights flashing on the fire truck as the fire crew rushed to their call.   Initially, I thought about how much faster the crew can respond to the family who needs their help due to the improved location of a new station, thanks in part to the USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Direct Loan program, with funds for this particular station being provided through the Recovery Act of 2009.   But then my thoughts turned back to the two days prior, when the volunteers gathered at the new station for an additional training session.   Some of the volunteers on that truck were the same volunteers at the training, who were once again taking time away from their paid jobs, to ensure their neighbors and employers have access to the same emergency services that I take for granted living in the Boise metropolitan area. Read more »

Chefs on the Move to Help Improve Child Nutrition

Cross-posted from the Let’s Move! Blog:

Last June, First Lady Michelle Obama along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a call to action for chefs across the nation to join the battle against childhood obesity. The program, called Chefs Move to Schools, helps to partner chefs with local schools in their communities as part of the Let’s Move! initiative.  Since June, we have seen chefs and schools across the country form new friendships and develop delicious meals in an effort to improve nutrition. Read more »

Mc Kinney’s Minshew Elementary School Achieves Gold in USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge

Students at Minshew Elementary School celebrated the receipt of the gold award in the HealthierUS School Challenge by singing about healthy foods.

Students at Minshew Elementary School celebrated the receipt of the gold award in the HealthierUS School Challenge by singing about healthy foods.

On December 16, I had the privilege of visiting McKinney, Texas to recognize Minshew Elementary School for achieving gold in the USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge. I presented the award to the school at an assembly with the students, the Mayor and the district superintendent.   I also had the pleasure to meet and congratulate the cafeteria staff and others on their achievement.  The children at the school performed a dance routine and invited the adults to join them.  I danced so much that I got my workout for the day!  It was wonderful to see the children exercise and have fun at the same time. Read more »

A Northern Wisconsin Community Opens a Shelter for Victims of Domestic Abuse Thanks to USDA and Community Funding Support

The time had come for a community to see what it has built when the Household Abuse Victims Emergency Network (HAVEN, Inc.) recently celebrated the grand opening of their new Domestic Abuse Shelter and Office Facility in the northern Wisconsin community of Merrill.

The newly renovated building will provide improved confidentiality and security, more office space and better facilities for staff to meet with clients. The larger shelter includes six bedrooms with a total of 24 beds, more bathrooms, a large new kitchen designed for convenient use by multiple residents, better laundry facilities, and is handicapped accessible. There is also a large living and dining area for residents, a children’s play room and a teen room. The lower level includes a room which can be used for groups or meetings. Read more »