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NIFA Debuts New Redesigned Public Website for Ease of Users

Recently, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) launched its redesigned website.  The agency’s web team has worked for the past year to design a site that will make access to information about NIFA’s grants and programs easier than ever.  The new website is compatible with a variety of mobile devices so today’s busy users can get their information on-the-go.

“This web revision comes at a time when most Americans, including farmers and other agricultural professionals, find resources online.  The new website is user-friendly and offers excellent search tools, thus, making information easily accessible,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. Read more »

A Student’s View: Healthier School, Brighter Future

Fresh vegetable cups prepared for the National School Lunch Program at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday, October 19, 2011. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

Fresh vegetable cups prepared for the National School Lunch Program at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday, October 19, 2011. USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.

The following guest blog from a Nebraska high school student is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting healthy meals in schools and the impact of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank these students, parents, teachers, and school nutrition professionals for sharing their stories!

By Morgan Ryan, student, Firth, Nebraska

When I started my sophomore year at Norris High School in Firth, Nebraska, I was unhealthy and both my self-confidence and grades suffered as a result. I averaged C’s in most of my classes and pretty much kept to myself at school. Read more »

Partnership, Technology Help Forge a Healthier Next Generation

Text2BHealthy nutrition educator Lynn Rubin signs up another parent at Washington Grove Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Md. during the school’s Fun and Fitness Spring Fair.

Text2BHealthy nutrition educator Lynn Rubin signs up another parent at Washington Grove Elementary School in Gaithersburg, Md. during the school’s Fun and Fitness Spring Fair.

We all benefit from creative partnership.  It’s especially true when some very savvy people leverage USDA Food and Nutrition Service programs to fight hunger and improve nutrition.  Text2BHealthy is one such example, where the University of Maryland-led program uses popular technology to inspire healthy eating habits for low-income families.

Established three years ago by the University of Maryland Extension, Text2BHealthy links in-school nutrition programs to healthy behaviors at home. Using USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) education funds to underwrite the program, text messages are sent to parents about nutrition lessons, food tastings, and events taking place during the school day. The messages also highlight seasonal foods and recipes, as well as ways to create healthy meals at home.  It even helps identify sales on local fruits and vegetables! Read more »

USDA Releases Strategies to Reduce E. coli Levels at Beef Slaughterhouses

Reduction of E. coli O157 illnesses since the mid-1990’s has been one of the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s greatest public health successes, with illnesses having dropped by over 50% since 1998.  While overall illnesses are down significantly, the most recently available outbreak data shows a slight increase in illnesses from this dangerous pathogen.  FSIS’ Strategic Performance Working Group (SPWG) has released a six-point strategy to turn the trend back in the right direction.

The Strategic Performance Working Group includes professionals from across FSIS, including field personnel, microbiologists, and policymakers who come together periodically to tackle serious and stubborn challenges that limit the Agency’s successful performance of its mission.  The SPWG previously developed the Salmonella Action Plan, which has been the agency’s blueprint for tackling Salmonella since December 2013.  Now the SPWG is also recommending a multipronged approach to address pathogenic E. coli in beef slaughterhouses. Read more »

Land Steward Finds Bliss and Life’s Rewards on Alaska’s Chugach National Forest

Robert Stovall, the deputy district ranger on the Seward Ranger District on Alaska’s Chugach National Forest, takes a moment to relax at the Russian River Falls Overlook. As a sport fisherman he enjoys hooking the big, aggressive silvers, also known as coho salmon. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Robert Stovall, the deputy district ranger on the Seward Ranger District on Alaska’s Chugach National Forest, takes a moment to relax at the Russian River Falls Overlook. As a sport fisherman he enjoys hooking the big, aggressive silvers, also known as coho salmon. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

To be a wildlife biologist and to be in Alaska … it’s not a question, it’s the good life for this Forest Service land manager.

Just ask Robert Stovall, the deputy district ranger for the Seward Ranger District since 2009 for Alaska’s Chugach National Forest. There are no roads into the forest’s interior. Beyond a two to three-mile road journey, you’ll find yourself in back country with no improved roads, a land full of beautiful scenery, lots of native wildlife, adventures and challenges. Read more »

A Student’s View: Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Ambassador Speaks Up for Youth in Washington, D.C.

Patrick Binder is a 17-year-old Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Ambassador from Yankton, South Dakota.

Patrick Binder is a 17-year-old Alliance for a Healthier Generation Youth Ambassador from Yankton, South Dakota.

The following guest blog is from a high school student from Yankton, South Dakota that was invited to discuss the implementation of USDA’s Smart Snacks in Schools rule at a meeting hosted by the Pew Charitable trusts last fall.  The blog is part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlighting healthy meals in schools and the impact of hard working school nutrition professionals who are dedicated to making the healthy choice the easy choice at schools across the country.  We thank these students, parents, teachers, and school nutrition professionals for sharing their stories!

By: Patrick Binder, student, Yankton, South Dakota

Aristotle once said, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” As a young person, I recognize the issues that face my peers. When the food service director at my school approached me about being on a wellness council, I was ecstatic. It was an opportunity presented by an adult to engage youth in decision-making. I continue to meet with the wellness council in my district, where we work to positively impact the wellness policy of my school. Read more »