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Posts tagged: Chicago

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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Flying Planes with Biofuels

Today, in Chicago, I joined Secretary Vilsack as he met with leaders from Boeing, United Airlines and Honeywell, to talk about support for the development of biofuels to power our jets.

In the United States alone, passenger and cargo airlines spend about $50 billion on fuel each year. If just a fraction of those billions were used to purchase American-produced aviation biofuels, we provide the opportunity to create thousands of good-paying jobs in communities across the nation. Read more »

Midwest Schools Find Benefits in Serving Local Foods

Chicago Public School students enjoying fresh peaches with “furry skin.”

Chicago Public School students enjoying fresh peaches with “furry skin.”

Feeding thousands children a healthy lunch every day isn’t easy. But as Farm to School programs become an important way to build local economies and connect youth with their food source, some school districts are getting creative about improving the healthfulness, and local-ness, of their cafeteria. Read more »

Ground-breaking Partnership Brings Celebrity Recipe to Chicago Student Lunches

Savory chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, and glazed carrots were part of the new recipe served to students in Chicago schools.

Savory chicken, sweet and spicy baked beans, and glazed carrots were part of the new recipe served to students in Chicago schools.

One of USDA’s most important missions is providing healthy meals to school lunch programs across the country.  In a unique partnership, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) agencies teamed up with Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! non-profit organization, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system and Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality to create and serve a new healthy, tasty and exciting school lunch recipe.

To do this, Bob Bloomer of Chartwells-Thompson, the provider of meals in most of Chicago’s schools, worked with the Agricultural Marketing Service to acquire fresh, unprocessed chicken. After issuing a solicitation and competitive bids from domestic suppliers, the Agricultural Marketing Service awarded the first contract for two truckloads—that’s 80,000 pounds —of raw chicken leg quarters for shipment to Chicago’s schools.

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Face of Food Safety: Joseph Woltz III

If you ask Joseph Woltz III what is the most rewarding part of his career, his answer would be simple and matter of fact: “What could be more rewarding than a career where your daily grind is protecting people from foodborne illnesses?”

Woltz’ “daily grind” is a lot different than the one he originally planned. When he was young, he always thought he would become a teacher. But instead of going into education, he took up the “family” business: the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Read more »

Chicago Celebrates “Go for the Gold” in Food and Fitness

How many mascots does it take to turn a school assembly into a celebration?  Well, on June 7, not one, not two, but a total of SEVEN mascots rocked the Chicago Public Schools’ “Go for the Gold” HealthierUS School Challenge celebration at Walsh Elementary School. Three major Chicago sports teams sent their mascots to delight the kids and support the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. Benny the Bull of the Chicago Bulls, Staley Da Bear (Chicago Bears) and DIBS (De Paul University Blue Demons basketball) brought down the house, with Benny shooting a basket from clear across the gym and Staley and DIBS battling it out on the drums.

Joining the merriment were USDA’s Power Panther and three mascots from Chartwells Hospitality (CPS school meals provider). Univision TV reporter Enrique Rodriguez and emcee extraordinaire kept the mascots on their toes and had the entire gym shouting “Eat Smart…Play Hard…Let’s Move!…Go for the Gold!” Read more »