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Posts tagged: ERS

Next Year at School: New Standards Point to Healthier Snacks and Other Competitive Foods

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, “competitive foods” in schools (a la carte and vending machine items) will be subject to new nutritional standards.

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, “competitive foods” in schools (a la carte and vending machine items) will be subject to new nutritional standards.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Beginning with the 2014-15 school year, “competitive foods” in schools will be subject to new nutritional standards. Competitive foods include à la carte cafeteria items like pizza, French fries, and ice cream, as well as snacks and beverages sold in vending machines or at snack bars, school stores, or other locations.

Referred to as “competitive foods” because they compete with meals served through the National School Lunch Program, these foods and beverages are currently inconsistently regulated and frequently high-calorie, low-nutrient options. Competitive foods are more common at secondary than at elementary schools. A 2005 survey revealed that 32 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools offered non-milk a la carte items. Vending machines were found in 27 percent of elementary, 87 percent of middle, and 98 percent of high schools. Read more »

USDA Plant Breeding Community Strengthens Efforts

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

The average consumer might not think about it, but for decades, USDA plant breeding research has been producing varieties that have been helping feed the world and preserve the environment. We know that you look for the plumpest, juiciest strawberries at your neighborhood market, so USDA plant breeding scientists worked to find the genes to make them taste even better.  And to help farmers in Northern climates produce more food for our tables, USDA plant breeding researchers developed corn that would mature early before the bitter cold arrived. This important work plays a significant role in our lives and USDA hopes to build on all these positive outcomes to make sure even more keep coming.  Therefore, to coordinate work on plant breeding and maximize the results from ever more limited resources, USDA formed a new Plant Breeding Working Group (PBWG) earlier this year. Read more »

Parental Employment, Education, and Disability are Factors in Food Insecurity among Children

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

In the wake of the economic downturn that began in late 2007, food insecurity in households with children remains near the highest level observed since monitoring began in 1995. In 2011, 20.6 percent of U.S. households with children were food insecure—unable at some time during the year to acquire adequate food for one or more members due to insufficient money or other resources for food.  In about half of those households, only adults experienced reduced food quality or quantity, but in 10 percent of all households with children, one or more of the children were also affected.

Food security is especially important for children because the foods they eat—or don’t eat—affect not only their current health and well-being, but also their development and future health. Studies suggest that children in food-insecure households are more likely to have negative health and development outcomes than children in otherwise similar food-secure households, such as poorer health, more frequent colds, and lower math and reading achievement. Read more »

Adapting to Climate Change and Drought Risk

Some regions of the United States seem to experience drought more often and more severely. Farmers in more drought-prone regions are adapting to their higher exposure. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Some regions of the United States seem to experience drought more often and more severely. Farmers in more drought-prone regions are adapting to their higher exposure. Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Economists working on climate change spend a lot of time trying to predict how farmers are going to adapt.  Without knowing how farmers will react to higher average temperatures or different rainfall patterns, we cannot accurately say what climate change will mean for the future.  Farmers have many adaptation options available.  They can change the mix of crops they grow, as well as their production practices, and production might be redistributed across regions. The Economic Research Service (ERS) has looked at potential impacts including how some regions will be impacted through commodity price changes resulting from climate-driven crop acreage changes farmers make in other regions. Read more »

USDA, ERS Moving Down the Track to Open Data

Each day, the Charts of Note series from the Economic Research Service (ERS) delivers an innovative, visual display of research findings. Wouldn’t it be great if these charts could be easily grabbed for use on your own website or blog? Well, now they can.

The new Federal Open Data Policy asks agencies to use machine-readable formats when they build and disseminate information. At ERS, we are already traveling down that track…for Charts of Note and more. Our goal is to improve the reach, accessibility, and utility of important research findings. Read more »

USDA Meets Digital Government Strategy Milestone with Mobile and Open Data Solutions

The Amber Waves mobile app on an iPad with its cover displaying Volume 11, Issue 1, February 2013, "The Economics of Food, Farming, Natural Resources, and Rural America".

The Amber Waves mobile app on an iPad with its cover displaying Volume 11, Issue 1, February 2013, "The Economics of Food, Farming, Natural Resources, and Rural America".

As part of USDA’s 12-month Digital Government Strategy deliverables we are sharing several new mobile and open data projects that help us deliver 21st century service to you, our customers and stakeholders. These new tools and open data efforts will enable USDA customers, to more easily access critical programs and services anywhere, any time and on any device, in addition to stimulating further innovations: Read more »