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Posts tagged: ARRA

USDA Supports Schools in Implementing Updated Nutrition Standards

New foodservice equipment makes preparing and serving healthier meals easier and more efficient for hardworking school food service professionals.

New foodservice equipment makes preparing and serving healthier meals easier and more efficient for hardworking school food service professionals.

Each and every school day, over 30 million children participate in USDA’s school meals programs; many of these children consume two or more of their daily meals at school.  There’s no denying that school food plays a critical role in children’s diets, and USDA takes this responsibility very seriously.  We are committed to doing our part to ensure a healthier next generation!

Given public concern about our children’s current and future health, USDA has issued updated school meal standards stemming from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. These science-based standards call for increasing fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, while at the same time limiting less healthy fats, sugar, sodium and excess calories.  Schools across the country are stepping up to the plate.  In fact, about 90% of schools across the country are already meeting the updated standards!  That’s not to say that their work is done.  Some schools have found that they lack the necessary equipment or tools to prepare healthy meals for all students. Read more »

USDA Funding Provides a Broadband Lift to Part of Rural Oklahoma

Oklahoma Rural Development State Director Ryan McMullen  joins project representatives, elected officials, and community representatives to cut a ribbon officially declaring the completion of the 1st of 30 towers, comprising the new broadband network. USDA photo.

Oklahoma Rural Development State Director Ryan McMullen joins project representatives, elected officials, and community representatives to cut a ribbon officially declaring the completion of the 1st of 30 towers, comprising the new broadband network. USDA photo.

Reinforcing USDA’s commitment to connecting rural America to the global economy, Oklahoma USDA Rural Development State Director Ryan McMullen, cut the ribbon on a new high-speed internet network, projected to serve more than 4,000 rural Oklahoma residents, many of them Native American, and 1,400 businesses.

The Oklahoma-owned company, @Atlink, that secured the funding for the project, hosted the event at the site of the completion of their first of thirty towers.   The new, vast network will span from I-35 near Ardmore, to the northeast to Sapulpa, while covering sprawling areas between Pauls Valley and Muskogee.  @Atlink secured $8 million for this project through the USDA Broadband Initiatives Program.  The funding for their loan/grant combination was provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Read more »

Native American Heritage Month – A Time for USDA to Consult with Tribes and Learn from Them

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack (center left, second row) meets with members of the USDA Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (CNAFR) in Washington, D.C. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack (center left, second row) meets with members of the USDA Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (CNAFR) in Washington, D.C. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.

Late last month it was my privilege to join representatives from multiple USDA agencies at Wisconsin’s Mole Lake Indian Reservation to discuss ways to work together, across agency lines, to provide needed services to Tribes.  Thanks to funding support through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and other USDA programs, the Obama Administration has boosted federal support for Tribes, but now we are working to step up our effort even more, to work as one to support projects and initiatives that the Tribes have told us they support and need.  As we observe  Native American Heritage Month, it is important to note that this effort is consistent with Secretary Vilsack’s “One USDA” policy.  The intention is to have “one USDA speaking with one voice.”

Because we are such a large department, sometimes those seeking services just don’t know where to start.  At USDA we are moving to unify our brand identity and broaden our outreach.  We know that when a member of a Tribe approaches a USDA representative, they don’t want a process.  They want an answer, and we should be giving them answers from all of our agencies. That was the message I shared with my USDA colleagues at Mole Lake. Read more »

Helping SNAP Recipients Prepare for November 1st Benefit Changes

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients will see their monthly benefits decrease beginning on November 1st. As USDA’s top official in charge of the program, I want to ensure that SNAP recipients know that this change is coming and understand what it means for you and your families.

As you know, the amount of SNAP benefits each eligible household receives depends on many things, such as income, household size and expenses. In addition, SNAP households have been receiving an increased amount of benefits because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a piece of legislation that provided a temporary boost in benefits to help individuals and families impacted by the economic downturn. Read more »

Thanks to USDA, Rural Arkansas Residents and Businesses Have Safer Water

Administrator Padalino speaking at the Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority Treatment Plant in Arkansas. The opening marked completion of the 500th water and environmental project completed by USDA through the Recovery Act. USDA photo.

Administrator Padalino speaking at the Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority Treatment Plant in Arkansas. The opening marked completion of the 500th water and environmental project completed by USDA through the Recovery Act. USDA photo.

USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino recently visited the 500th water and wastewater project completed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. “The Recovery Act has brought improved water and wastewater services to nearly 1.7 million rural residents,” said the Administrator.

Administrator Padalino made his remarks at the Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority Treatment Plant in Arkansas.

Most people in the U.S. take for granted the fact that safe drinking water is readily available for use by simply turning on a tap, or pushing a button on a fountain.  However, many rural communities within the U.S. must deal with negative impacts associated with contaminated water sources at their homes and schools. Read more »

USDA Helps a Utah Town Earn a “Most Improved Water System” Award

Sigurd, Utah, located on the border of Fishlake National Forest, is a town of 435 and varying elevations. The highs and lows of Sigurd’s landscape make it a beautiful place to live, but with an outdated water system, the location caused problems for the residents. For years, the town coped with a small water tank, outdated pipes, and inconsistent water pressure. Most of the system had not been upgraded since its initial construction and each time the pipes broke, a majority of the town was cut off from the water supply until maintenance crews could fix the problem. Read more »