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Deputy Secretary Merrigan visits Washington food bank

Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited the Capital Area Food Bank in northeast Washington this morning, to help highlight the President’s United We Serve initiative and encourage Americans to serve their communities.

She also spoke directly to USDA employees, who are encouraged to participate in the Feds Feed Families program through August by bringing food to work:

Merrigan, joined by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, reiterated the President’s pledge to end childhood hunger by 2015 — and the importance of the nation’s food banks in that effort. At the same time, she noted, summer is often the hardest time for food banks to gather the resources they need to help the community.

This summer, that’s one problem the Obama Administration is hoping to address as it kicks off the United We Serve program. When people find a local project, whether it’s helping to gather food for a food bank, building a family a home, or working to clean up a park, everyone benefits. And although the hurdles are sometimes high, the Deputy Secretary and other attendees’ summer Hawaiian shirts served as a reminder that volunteering this summer, with friends, family and neighbors, can be fun at the same time.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan meets with staff at the Capitol Area Food Bank.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan meets with staff at the Capitol Area Food Bank.

USDA filmmaker David Black describes Afghanistan experiences

USDA filmmaker David Black traveled this spring to Afghanistan, where he produced a 17-minute film on the efforts of USDA agriculture advisors working in Afghanistan as part of intergovernmental Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

While he was away, he kept a personal journal about his experiences on the ground in Afghanistan. This excerpt is from April 28, 2009: Read more »

Vilsack joins in urban tour event in Philadelphia

Secretary Vilsack has been busy touring the country with other members of the Obama cabinet as part of the Rural Tour — but yesterday, he traveled to Philadelphia to give a few words in an urban setting as well. Read more »

Garden Sprouts kicks off alongside Healthy Garden Workshop

This afternoon in the Peoples’ Garden at USDA, the weekly Healthy Garden Workshop was supplemented by a special new activity for kids: the Garden Sprouts program.

As the adults learned about weeding techniques and removal of invasive plants at the third weekly Healthy Garden event, kids were given a map to follow through six educational stations. They learned about the role of worms in a garden as they dug through soil, helped put ladybugs into the Peoples’ Garden, and learned about seeds and how they work.

Display at one of the tables in the Garden Sprouts workshop.

The kids talked about how food goes from the farm to their plates, and had the opportunity to meet with volunteers from D.C. kitchen, a local food bank and culinary training facility.

Throughout the entire mini-workshop, attendees gained a wealth of knowledge about the food they eat, and how it’s grown. The Peoples’ Garden exists to further this educational outreach — you can always learn more about what we’re doing in the Garden by checking out the Twitter feed, or visiting the Peoples’ Garden web site.

The Garden Sprouts workshop ready to go Friday morning.

Food and Nutrition Service marks 40 years

The same year astronauts set foot on the moon, USDA launched its own massive project to benefit the American people — the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Read more »

Vilsack meets with FFA leaders

Secretary Vilsack spoke this morning at the Future Farmers of America State Presidents’ meeting. He had the opportunity to meet with FFA’s national and state leaders, and took a few minutes to congratulate them on their election to leadership posts in an organization of more than 500,000 active members. Read more »