Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak before a group of city and town planners at a forum hosted by the American Planning Association. Before I spoke I asked the crowd to raise their hands if they had worked in a community of less than 50,000 population. To my surprise, three-quarters of audience raised a hand.
When I then asked for people to keep their hands raised if they worked in communities under 20,000, and close to half the hands were still up.
It was another reminder that people who live and work in rural communities are highly engaged—enough so to attend a conference here in Washington D.C.—and intent on exploring solutions for small towns and rural areas. Read more »
“Small towns and rural communities need assistance from USDA Rural Development, now more than ever.” That was the consensus of attendees participating in a breakout session at the National Association of Towns and Townships (NATaT) annual meeting in Washington in early September. During and after the session Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Cheryl Cook heard accounts of how local Rural Development staff have made a difference in the economic health of rural communities in states including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Many described the positive impact of investments made through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act over the last two years, but expressed concern for the future. Water systems, broadband access, and fire and rescue capabilities were frequently cited as critical foundational investments every community needs. But many said finding private partners willing to lend on affordable terms is a challenge for smaller communities that have a limited tax base. Read more »
District of Columbia science classes help in an enhanced pest detection program.
The Challenge – Non-native wood-boring insects and pathogens that infest and kill trees pose a serious threat to our nation’s forests.
But monitoring trees to look for emerging insects is time-consuming and resource intensive. Exotic pests are frequently first introduced in the country’s urban areas where they go undetected until they are well established and have damaged host trees. Enhanced survey and detection methods are needed to identify new introductions of invasive insects and diseases. Read more »
District of Columbia WIC Director Gloria Clark talks about DC’s new mobile WIC clinic which will travel to underserved parts of the city to provide needed services.
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:
On August 4, the Farmers Market by the White House was bustling with individuals celebrating World Breastfeeding Week and National Farmers Market Week. The festival’s purpose was to recognize the value of farmers markets and the role that nutritious fruits and vegetables play in promoting wellness. Read more »
In the U.S., Hispanic households experience hunger at rates that are higher than the national average. According to USDA research, one out of every four Hispanic households in the U.S. is food insecure, compared with a national average of 15 percent. Hispanics also participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly the Food Stamp Program) at rates that are lower than the national average.
To call attention to this need to better reach the Latino population with access to nutrition assistance programs, USDA leadership participated in the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) annual conference in Washington DC from July 23-25. President Obama also gave a keynote speech at the conference, which had about 2,000 attendees. Read more »
Stephen Kendall, Food Donations Coordinator at DC Central Kitchen, and students from Powell Elementary School in NW, DC hunt for herbs in the Truck Farm during the USDA Farmers Market and the official kick off of the People's Garden Friday activities on Friday, June 3, 2011 in Washington, DC.
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:
In his opening remarks at this season’s first Department of Agriculture Farmers Market, held adjacent to our headquarters on the National Mall, Secretary Vilsack spoke about the national movement to rebuild our rural economy and connect urban communities with America’s farmers. The market—a bustle of activity with a crowd of shoppers purchasing produce, homemade preserves, and artisanal bread—was a festive celebration of that movement, but not the only attraction of the day! Read more »