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 »
Students across the country will celebrate International School Meals Day with special events, like international food taste testings. Lentils, like those pictured in this lentil stew, are high in protein and eaten in abundance throughout Mediterranean countries and West Asia.
They say that March comes in roaring like a lion and USDA certainly plans to start the month strong by doing something we’ve never done before. We have helped connect 28 schools in the United States and the United Kingdom that are leading the way in promoting healthy living to celebrate the very first International School Meals Day. Read more »
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, right of center, hosted two roundtable meetings in Lower Brule, SD on Feb. 28, 2013. Deputy Secretary Merrigan held a press availability with tribal leaders to reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to Indian Country and highlight the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to promote business development and job creation in rural South Dakota. USDA photo by Tammi Shone.
Last week, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan led a USDA delegation deep into the heart of Indian Country in South Dakota. All three of us and our teams from USDA’s South Dakota state offices for Rural Development, the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service were joined by the Acting Director of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations, Max Finberg, along with Darlene Barnes, the regional director of the Food and Nutrition Service, and South Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner Walt Bones. We were hosted by the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Sioux nations in the center of our state. The Deputy Secretary held a roundtable discussion on the importance of agriculture and economic development in Indian Country and visited a unique Native American food company. She was joined by many tribal leaders and organizations, including farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs. Read more »
A youngster enjoys a crisp apple for lunch at the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development’s Mi Escuelita summer food program site in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. More than 75 kids enjoy physical activities such as soccer and basketball followed by a free healthy lunch each day during summer thanks to the USDA Summer Food Service Program.
Children need good nutrition all year long. When school is out during the summer months, many children no longer have access to even one nutritious meal each day. Research shows a lack of nutrition during the summer months may set up a cycle for poor performance once school begins. We must do all we can to ensure that children get nutritious food during the summer months so that they are ready to learn during the school year. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is intended to feed kids during these “meal gap” periods. Read more »
Cross posted from the disability.gov blog:
Today, I was thinking about the last entry I wrote for Disability.gov’s blog just about a year ago and considering our accomplishments in 2012 and the opportunities that are ahead for 2013.
The need for food assistance remained high in 2012, with an average of 47 million people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) every month. Program participation increased in response to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana and Hurricane Sandy in the New England states. However, overall the program grew at a slower rate and even flattened toward the end of the year. SNAP continues to be the cornerstone of the national hunger safety net by helping those in need put healthy food on the table. Read more »
As the Federal agency responsible for carrying out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s mission, we are constantly taking actions to improve program integrity. In 2012, we enacted tougher financial sanctions to punish those who abuse the program; sent letters to the CEOs of Ebay, Facebook, Twitter and Craigslist to engage their help in preventing the sale or purchase of SNAP benefits online; and began requiring increased documentation for high-risk stores applying to redeem SNAP benefits. Last year, the program reached a record level of payment accuracy, and fraud has been reduced to the lowest rate in the history of the program. In 2013, we expect to do even more to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used wisely.
But spending taxpayer dollars with integrity also means ensuring that the benefits provided through SNAP are actually able to do what they’re intended to do—provide healthy food to families. While the program has a strong track record of success, its size and reach underscore the importance of periodic review to ensure that the resources it provides accurately reflect the real-world circumstances in which SNAP households find themselves today; circumstances that directly affect their ability to make healthy food choices within a limited budget. Read more »