Some of the most passionate advocates for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service are our partners across the country. I realized that when I sat down yesterday with our hunger fighting partners in rural Greeley, Colorado. The town sits in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Weld County, among some of the richest, most productive farmland in the west. It’s a massive 4,000 square mile county where cattle, grain and sugar beets are king.
Yet in the midst of the beauty and bounty, I was struck by the fact that 25,000 people here are in need. So United Way of Weld County brought together more than two dozen local agencies that all have a common goal: to strengthen their community by reducing hunger and promoting health. Read more »
I get to learn about a lot of great local initiatives when I make visits around the country. On a recent trip to Dallas, I visited Metrocrest Social Services, a community resource agency in Farmers Branch, Texas, that provides services to families in crisis and helps them make plans for the future. The purpose of the visit was to learn how outreach workers from the North Texas Food Bank come to this office to assist clients submit applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Camilla Zimbal, social services director, gave me a tour of the agency, and showed me some of the other services available to clients. One of the highlights of this one-stop shop is a food pantry at which pantry clients may select groceries once a week. In addition to the canned and boxed food, they can also select fresh-from-the-garden fruit and vegetables. Read more »
As Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service, I know that our 15 nutrition assistance programs help a wide variety of people around the country. But there’s nothing like getting out of the office to personally witness the boots on the ground efforts by those who administer and promote our programs on a daily basis. I recently traveled to the FNS Southwest Regional Office in Dallas to meet federal and state personnel and partners and to tour several centers that make up the first line of defense in creating our nation’s safety net against hunger.
One place that I found particularly impressive during my travel was the Dallas Community Baby Café, sponsored by the City of Dallas WIC program. The Women Infants and Children or WIC program provides aid to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding mothers, and their children up to age five who are at nutritional risk. Conveniently co-located next to a WIC clinic that serves over six thousand participants a month, the café is the newest member of a family of 12 centers located around the United States. It provides a relaxed, non-clinical place for pregnant and breastfeeding moms to get advice about lactation from professional and certified consultants free of charge. Read more »
I recently had the pleasure of visiting Wheat Street Gardens, a unique urban garden, located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Ga., not far from the famous civil rights historical Ebenezer and Wheat Street churches. The garden was once a housing project that was demolished and many of the former residences’ families still come to the garden telling stories of where their parents used to live and reliving the memories as they purchase fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the garden. The old housing project land, owned by the Wheat Street Church, was donated for the garden.
Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW), which is a 501(C)(3) Non-Profit, runs the garden, which produces organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs, grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The garden is also a farmers market selling as a direct farmer to the community and welcomes customers who spend Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Read more »
In August I went back to school with students in Albany and Newton, Ga., to see how healthy school meals help students get their “S.W.A.G. on” and prepare for success.
In Albany, 400 Sherwood Acres Elementary Magnet School students celebrated school breakfast, many wearing S.W.A.G. t-shirts, which stands for “Students with Academic Greatness!”
Vanessa Hayes, Dougherty County Schools Director of Child Nutrition Services, explained, “We understand that good nutrition is the fuel for the educational vehicle.” Read more »
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:
On April 26, I had the pleasure of visiting Harold S. Winograd School in Greeley, Colo., to kick off the judging for the First Lady’s Recipes for Healthy Kids competition. As I arrived at the school, I could feel the excitement, enthusiasm, and deep pride among the students and staff.
The students greeted us at the entrance of the school, dressed in professional-looking aprons embroidered with their names, and crisp, white chef hats. Four 8th-grade students – Jace, Bethany, Abraham, Amairani – along with local chef Amanda Smith, Kara Sample, RD, SNS, the administrative dietitian for Weld County School District 6, and Emily Wigington an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, developed the recipe of Chic’ Penne, one of 15 semi-finalist recipes from around the country. Read more »