On Monday I accepted the challenge for USDA to donate more than 1.8 million pounds of food this summer through the 4th annual Feds Feed Families Food Drive (FFF). Game on!
If each USDA employee donates just two pounds of food per week, we will contribute more than 2 million pounds and help our hardworking neighbors put food on the table during these tough economic times. FFF began four years ago to help fill a gap during the summer months, when food banks and pantries struggle with an increase in demand from families and individuals, but a decrease in donations. Each year of the food drive, USDA employees have stepped up to the plate: in 2011, USDA employees organized over 2,000 food drives across the country and collected 1.79 million pounds of fresh and shelf-stable food.
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Some of the most passionate advocates for USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service are our partners across the country. I realized that when I sat down yesterday with our hunger fighting partners in rural Greeley, Colorado. The town sits in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Weld County, among some of the richest, most productive farmland in the west. It’s a massive 4,000 square mile county where cattle, grain and sugar beets are king.
Yet in the midst of the beauty and bounty, I was struck by the fact that 25,000 people here are in need. So United Way of Weld County brought together more than two dozen local agencies that all have a common goal: to strengthen their community by reducing hunger and promoting health. Read more »
Faith in Place recently secured a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant to operate winter farmers markets.
For 18 years, Tony Ends of Scotch Hill Farm worked hard to develop direct marketing opportunities for his family’s crops and products. For over six of those years, he advocated for other small farms in winter markets that he organized with Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa churches. Trends in farming and the recent recession, which spurred a decline in attendance at some markets, have taken a negative toll on some farm families in the upper Midwest, but Tony hasn’t lost faith. Read more »
Connecticut’s AGvocate Program promotes local farmers by inviting the public to area events and demonstrations. One event allowed residents to ride a wagon through a dairy barn to learn how milk is produced and how they can support local dairy farmers.
Windham County Farm Service Agency in Connecticut has taken an innovative approach to connect consumers with their local farmer.
Through the state’s AGvocate program — a program designed to make farming viable in Connecticut towns — the agency received funding to promote agriculture by creating committees and commissions to help residents understand the importance of supporting local farmers. Read more »
Farmers Markets offer in season, local produce to communities nationwide.
Tough economic conditions can make it difficult to access healthy, fresh, and affordable produce. That’s why USDA is pleased to announce this year’s grants recipients of the Farmers Market Promotion Program. This important program provides grants to local farmers and producers so they can grow their income while making make fresh, healthy food available to more families across the country – particularly in low income and underserved communities. Read more »
A wide variety of eggplant sold at the North Carolina Farmers Market. The North Carolina State Farmers Market is one of the local markets covered by USDA Market News. Photo by Justin Henry.
Urban agriculture and gardening can be an important tool in confronting several key challenges that Americans face: from supporting farm viability in and around urban areas to improving access to healthful, affordable food to realizing the potential of rural-urban linkages. Read more »