New Jersey Farm to School Network and Edible Jersey Magazine recently awarded their inaugural School Garden of the Year Award to three projects for innovative efforts to connect their school gardens to the cafeteria, curriculum, and community. How fitting that schools in the Garden State are host to a number of exemplary school gardens!
Students at Lawrenceville Elementary School in Lawrenceville, NJ cultivate their school garden from planting to harvest!
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This Idaho People’s Garden donated over 5,000 pounds of food this summer to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Boise.
Located on about a half an acre of land in Boise, Idaho is a USDA People’s Garden. This land wasn’t always so fruitful. In fact, it was barren for almost 30 years due to a lack of water available on the property. In 2010, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Idaho State Office teamed up with Amity United Methodist Church of Boise to create a People’s Garden. The land is now a flourishing garden that produces many fruits and vegetables year round thanks in part to a new water distribution system. Read more »
The fourth annual Feds Feed Families food drive has come to a close and USDA employees helped to bolster local efforts to feed those in need in a big way. USDA employees, farmers, and friends donated 2.77 million pounds of food this summer and the federal-government-wide total was 7.29 million pounds of food! This week, USDA is recognizing the great work of its employees and community partners who volunteered to make the food drive a success.
Beyond donating much-needed perishable and non-perishable foods, USDA employees showed their generosity in other ways as well. As the Rural Development state office in Nashville, Tennessee demonstrated, donations of time can be very valuable in helping an organization in your community. Read more »
In many parts of the United States, the summer months are a time when food banks and pantries experience a higher demand alongside decreased donations. As part of this past summer’s Feds Feed Families food drive, USDA employees in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, enthusiastically joined in the effort to help friends and neighbors struggling to put food on the table. The 28 members of the staff at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station include scientists, farmers and gardeners, as well as employees in supportive roles. As part of their research efforts, the USDA Tropical Research Center periodically harvests hundreds of pounds of green bananas at a time from experimental plots. Rather than let this healthy food go to waste, the office donates the bananas to a government-run nursing home in Mayaguez. There the bananas are used to prepare traditional, local dishes.
Some of the dishes prepared with the donated bananas include pasteles, which are made from ground banana stuffed with meat or chicken, wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked. Two other delicious dishes are bollitas, or small ground banana balls cooked with pigeon peas and served over rice, and serenata, a dish of boiled green banana served with codfish, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bananas are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium, are rich in Vitamins B6 and C, and make a delicious dessert or snack–just make sure to let them ripen first! Read more »
In McLean, a community tucked inside Fairfax County, not everyone can access the food they need for good health. I interviewed Julie Mendoza about her efforts to connect hungry families in McLean with fresh produce.
Julie knew that Share McLean, a food pantry that serves hungry families in the area, often lacked fresh produce. As she was walking through the McLean community garden one day, she noticed that there was an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. She decided she would try to facilitate a relationship between the garden and Share McLean, calling it The Gardeners’ Share of McLean.
Young gardeners at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church grow food for The Gardener’s Share.
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This week, USDA and other federal departments and agencies are recognizing the huge success of the 4th annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive. USDA employees, farmers, and friends raised a total of 2.77 million pounds of food this summer! The U.S. Forest Service was a big part of this effort and the stories below captures a snapshot of how several different Forest Service offices helped fill the shelves of food banks and food pantries in their communities.
In Duluth, Minnesota, the Superior National Forest Supervisor’s Office set a goal of 2,500 pounds for the food drive. As an incentive to encourage their team, Forest Supervisor Brenda Halter and Deputy Supervisor Tim Dabney promised they would wear Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl costumes and greet people in Duluth’s Canal Park if they reached their goal. The staff pulled together and donated 4,500 pounds of food to Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. With the goal met and far exceeded, the Forest Supervisor and Deputy Supervisor put on the Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl costumes! Read more »