Chris Facha, USDA Food Distribution Program Coordinator at the Oregon Department of Education and American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA) President Elect, samples the new pepper/onion blend served during the USDA/State Agency Meeting’s “USDA Foods: Behind the Scenes” session.
The USDA Foods Available List is a lot like any other menu, with dozens of healthy options for state agencies to order and distribute through USDA’s nutrition assistance programs. And every year, foods are added or removed from the list based on customer demand and market conditions. Some offerings are modified to improve nutrition content or make the product and its packaging easier to work with in the kitchen or more acceptable to kids.
The USDA Foods program is a collaboration between the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency that procures the food, and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the agency that distributes the food. This school year, the USDA Foods team’s goal for training and conferences is to provide more opportunities to taste new and reformulated products. That way, state agencies can confidently order them and school districts can incorporate them into their menus. Read more »
FMPP grant helped Ajo Farmers Market expand its vendors to offer a variety of foods and activities from fresh local veggies, stews and soups to Kids Month with mural painting activities for kids!
If there is one word that best embodies agriculture, it is entrepreneurship. Over the course of my time at USDA, I’ve had the chance to meet with farmers, ranchers and food business of all sizes and in all parts of the country. The faces of these entrepreneurs and their innovative strategies and business models reflect the diversity that makes this country strong. Each year, USDA helps thousands of agricultural producers and businesses enhance their marketing efforts and bring healthy, nutritious food to communities– and I’m excited that this week, we’ve announced another opportunity to support their work.
My agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), announced the availability of more than $27 million in grants to help ensure the livelihoods of our nation’s farmers and ranchers while strengthening rural economies. The announcement included $26 million in AMS grant funding from the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program through the Local Food Marketing Promotion Program (LFPP) and the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). Read more »
From left to right: Tony Schwager, Good Natured Family Farms Project Manager; Sara Cano, USDA Senior Auditor; Doreen Choffel, USDA Senior Auditor; and Diana Endicott, GNFF Founder and Director review audit information. In August, Good Natured Family Farms became the first cooperative certified under USDA’s GroupGAP program.
For more than four generations, Amish farmers in the Kansas City area have abided by a simple tenet: farm sustainably and care for the earth to preserve their way of life for future generations. Good Natured Family Farms (GNFF), a cooperative of 18 Amish family farms in Missouri, is using GroupGAP, a new USDA audit program, to help them safeguard their future by building strong markets for the high-quality, local foods they produce. In August, the group made USDA history as the first to receive an official USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification through our new GroupGAP program.
Since 2002, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has provided the traditional USDA GAP audit program to the fruit and vegetable industry. GAP is a voluntary program that verifies its participants follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines and industry best practices to minimize risks of food safety hazards when producing, handling, and storing fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops. In 2016, AMS conducted nearly 4,000 traditional GAP audits. Read more »
Gallaudet University President Roberta J. Cordano, left, and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Administrator Elanor Starmer sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, on Friday, December 2, 2016. USDA Photo by Ken Melton
I often wonder if the leaders who came before us recognized the pivotal things they set in motion, the far-reaching impact their actions would have, and how they helped shape America into a land of opportunity. President Lincoln’s legacy and impact is well-known and obvious, but he did so much more than lead this country during its most trying time. And it’s these smaller acts—those that are not typically taught in the history books—that I wonder about the most. Did he know what he was setting in motion?
In 1862, a year after the start of the Civil War, President Lincoln signed the law creating the U.S. Department of Agriculture—a place he called “The People’s Department.” Two years later, and just five months after giving the Gettysburg Address, he signed the charter establishing Gallaudet University—an institution that has helped thousands of deaf and hard of hearing students achieve their educational goals and fulfill their dreams. Read more »
From left to right: Bruce Summers - Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA); Travis Hubbs - Assistant Regional Director, PACA Division, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA); Yowei Peralta - Senior Marketing Specialist, PACA Division, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA); Elise Golan - Director of Sustainable Development, Office of The Chief Economist (USDA); Christine Hofmann - Marketing Coordinator, Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market; Dan Kane - General Manager, Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market; Rose Harrell - Deputy Director of Maryland Food Center Authority & President of National Association of Produce Market Managers
Did you know that nearly one-third of the food available to U.S. retailers and consumers never makes it to the dining room table? That’s 133 billion pounds of food going to waste–all of which has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation, and climate change. Experts have projected that reducing food waste by just 15 percent would provide the equivalent of enough food for more than 25 million Americans every year.
That’s why my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), decided to help tackle the problem by sponsoring the Terminal Market Food Waste Challenge. Produce markets across the U.S. joined the friendly 90-day competition by making sure that usable fruits and vegetables were not thrown away. While these fresh foods weren’t picture-perfect supermarket quality or simply didn’t sell, they were healthy, wholesome foods that could be made into juices, added to animal feeds, used for compost, or donated to charity. Read more »
The Country of Origin Labeling regulations require most grocery stores to provide the country of origin for fish and shellfish, and the method of production (farm-raised or wild-caught), at the point of sale where consumers make purchasing decisions.
How can fish in a grocery store be labeled as both “Alaskan” and “Product of China” on the same package? The answer is that although much of the seafood sold in the United States is labeled with a foreign country of origin, some of that same seafood was actually caught in U.S. waters.
Under the Country of Origin Labeling program regulations – enforced by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service – when fish are caught in U.S. waters and then processed in a foreign country that foreign country of processing must appear on the package as the country of origin. This processing usually takes the form of filleting and packaging the fish into the cuts you see in the grocery store seafood department or frozen food aisle. However, if the fish was actually caught in Alaskan waters, retailers are also able to promote the Alaskan waters the fish was actually caught in, in addition to the country in which the processing occurred. Read more »