USDA Rural Development 2015 Progress Report.
USDA Rural Development’s just released 2015 Progress Report highlights the many ways that the Agency’s investments in businesses and communities created jobs, provided economic opportunities and improved local infrastructure for millions of rural residents.
This report also presents the historic level of investment in rural communities since President Obama took office in 2009. Among the highlights, USDA: Read more »
The Economic Research Service has released Household Food Security in the United States in 2014. ERS has also conducted recent research on the impact of economic conditions and policies on the incidence of food insecurity. (Click to enlarge)
USDA’s recently released annual report on the incidence and severity of food insecurity in American households marks 20 years of Federal statistics measuring U.S. food insecurity. This year’s report, presenting 2014 data, shows that 86.0 percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year, meaning that all household members had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. In 2014, 14.0 percent of U.S. households (17.4 million households) had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members because of a lack of financial or other resources. Food insecurity, essentially unchanged from 2013, is down from a high of 14.9 percent measured in 2011.
Looking back over the last several years, the food insecurity rate, as expected, rose in 2008 with the recession. But the food insecurity rate has not returned to pre-recession levels. Research shows that while modest improvements in food security have accompanied declining unemployment, other changes in the economy, including higher food prices, appear to offset the effect of unemployment declines. These higher food prices, along with an increase in overall inflation, are key factors preventing food insecurity rates from any substantial decline. Another Economic Research Service (ERS) study found that, particularly for households receiving benefits from USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), higher local food prices were related to higher food insecurity. Read more »
We’re celebrating the 80th anniversary of the creation of the Rural Electrification Administration this month. The REA was created because in 1935, rural areas had no electricity—no lights or power to transform their hard work and efforts into efficiency and productivity. With the creation of the REA, and the subsequent Congressional action through the Rural Electrification Act, REA was able to empower rural America, changing lives and livelihoods for the better.
Rural Electrification Administration (REA) erects telephone lines in rural areas. Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration.
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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 »
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 »
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 »