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Posts tagged: Chicago

USDA and EPA Make People’s Garden Blossom

The Midwest Region encouraged interns to participate in the People’s Garden as part of its Cultural Transformation efforts.

The Midwest Region encouraged interns to participate in the People’s Garden as part of its Cultural Transformation efforts.

It is amazing what successful partnerships we have developed through our USDA People’s Garden initiative in the Food & Nutrition Service’s Midwest Region. It’s been four years now since we began working with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest Program to create our garden. The garden is a symbol of USDA’s history in connecting our people to the land. Throughout the years, we have helped maintain raised garden beds in one of Chicago’s most economically and socially challenged neighborhoods. Now we have expanded those efforts to include our federal neighbors and partners at the Environmental Protection Agency. Read more »

Women Partners Power Innovation in Nutrition Assistance in the Midwest

Bonnie Dotson and her husband Josh sell fresh fruits and vegetables from their farm at Division Street Market in Chicago, IL.

Bonnie Dotson and her husband Josh sell fresh fruits and vegetables from their farm at Division Street Market in Chicago, IL.

Last summer I witnessed an amazing group of partners – the majority women, coincidentally – making a big difference in the lives of those who suffer from hunger. It all started with USDA’s effort to expand the availability of wireless technology at farmers markets not currently accepting SNAP benefits.

It’s sometimes difficult for markets to accept SNAP, because they need Electronic Benefit Transfer equipment and electricity to process benefits from the card. The funding can be used to help markets purchase the processing equipment, and to pay for wireless service so the equipment can be used without a power source. This is really exciting because it means more SNAP participants can access fresh, affordable and local produce and more American farmers can expand their client base. Read more »

Recognizing Champions of Change: Strengthening Food Security at Home and Abroad

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of congratulating 11 extraordinary individuals being recognized through the White House Champions of Change program for their work to tackle hunger in the United States and abroad.

The Champions recognized today are making improved access to healthy food a reality for millions of individuals in need. Innovative programs like the Community Food Advocates in New York City, Parents United for Healthy Schools/Padres Unidos para Escuelas Saludables in Chicago, and the Mandela Marketplace in Oakland, California are helping to empower families and communities and reducing the depth and severity of hunger in America. And the work of organizations like Thriive, Fort Valley State University College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, and Catholic Medical Mission Board are taking on the fight against hunger worldwide. Read more »

Introducing the Regional Food Hub Guide: An Innovative Tool for Growing Local Food Systems

Regional Food Hub Resource Guide.  The guide is a collection of information, resources and background on everything needed to develop or participate in a regional food hub.

Regional Food Hub Resource Guide. The guide is a collection of information, resources and background on everything needed to develop or participate in a regional food hub.

What can farmers and ranchers do if they’re interested in selling locally but don’t have the resources to run their own trucks, processing plants or marketing strategies?  What can institutional buyers, –like schools, hospital and retailers — do to offer more local food to their customers? A regional food hub is one possible answer.

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Feeding More Kids By Working Together in the Midwest

Under Secretary Concannon speaks with members of the Chicago Summer Food Work Group. From left: Mark Haller (ISBE), Diane Doherty (IHC), Monsignor Michael Boland (Archdiocese of Chicago), Under Secretary Kevin Concannon (USDA).

Under Secretary Concannon speaks with members of the Chicago Summer Food Work Group. From left: Mark Haller (ISBE), Diane Doherty (IHC), Monsignor Michael Boland (Archdiocese of Chicago), Under Secretary Kevin Concannon (USDA).

During the school year, nearly 32 million children receive a free or reduced price lunch through the National School Lunch Program. During the summer months most schools – and school meal programs – close down, leaving children without an opportunity for nutritious meals each day.

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USDA Value Added Producer Grants: Turning Great Ideas into Sustainable Business

Earlier this month, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced almost 300 Value Added Producer Grant recipients across the Nation.  Each one of those recipients has a story, and a dream that, with help from USDA, will become reality. From producing pumpkin puree and gourmet cheese to expanding a caviar production operation in Idaho (Yes, Idaho), Rural Americans are using these matching grants to grow their businesses and bring high quality products to market.

Using funding provided through the USDA Value Added Producer Grant program, an Idaho producer will expand sales of gourmet caviar. Photo by Ashley Smith, Times-News staff photographer, used with permission.

Using funding provided through the USDA Value Added Producer Grant program, an Idaho producer will expand sales of gourmet caviar. Photo by Ashley Smith, Times-News staff photographer, used with permission.

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