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Posts tagged: Food Nutrition

USDA to Sponsor Web-Based Nutrition Gaming Contest in Support of the President’s Open Government Initiative

Today we announced the Innovations for Healthy Kids Challenge, which supports the President’s Open Government Initiative by holding a national contest that will promote healthier dietary habits among children.

“The Innovations for Healthy Kids Challenge highlights the Obama Administration’s commitment to combating childhood obesity and improving the nutritional health of America’s youth,” said Vilsack. “We are excited to spur innovation by making it easier for high-tech companies and individuals to identify collaborative, entrepreneurial opportunities. Those who participate in this challenge will be important partners in helping our kids make smarter choices about the foods they eat.”

USDA released a dataset with 1,000 of the most common food items as well as open source codes from USDA nutrition resources to enable development of a Web-based learning application that incorporates the USDA-generated dataset. This challenge is open to entrepreneurs, software developers and students to design a creative and educational game targeted to kids, especially “tweens”, aged 9-12. The dataset is available to the public on and

The Web-based games will help motivate kids to learn about healthy dietary habits and the importance of eating more nutritional foods. Using the foods dataset, the game should be centered on educational messages that emphasize one or more key nutrition concepts from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the MyPyramid Food Guidance System.

The FNCS Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion will begin accepting fully developed Web-based games in the spring of 2010 that will be judged by a panel of public and private sector nutrition and gaming experts. The Popular Choice winner will be selected based on public votes, so stay tuned for more information.

Additional details will be posted at as they are available. The dataset containing more than 1,000 commonly eaten foods and the open source code used for MyFood-a-pedia and the MyPyramid Menu Planner are available on the Website.

For examples of USDA-developed nutrition games and resources, visit the MyPyramid Blast Off Game, My Pyramid Menu Planner, and MyFood-a-pedia. For detailed information about the Innovations for Healthy Kids Challenge, go to

Innovations for Healthy Kids Challenge

USDA Helping You Make Healthier Food Choices

Do you want to make healthier food choices, but aren’t sure where to start?

USDA has three new on-line tools and sites that can get you going: Read more »

White House Chef Sam Kass helps USDA Dish Out Nutritious, Local Food

Remember when your favorite dish unexpectedly appeared on the menu at your school cafeteria? It was the same feeling of excitement today at the USDA Cafeteria. White House Chef Sam Kass mixed up Honey Crisp Apple Salad (with or without chicken) for USDA employees and visitors as Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan continues the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food roll-out week. Read more »

USDA employees contributing to United We Serve initiative

The Obama administration has called on Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life to work to improve their communities as part of the United We Serve project. Here at USDA, many of our more than 100,000 employees are doing their part. They are driven to serve, and proud to identify ways to use their skills to support their own communities.

Take a look at the great work two USDA employees are doing:

People’s Garden—Tom (Goodhue, MN)

Tom works at the Goodhue, Minnesota USDA Service Center. During his lunch break, he gets his hands in the soil of the vegetable garden of their own People’s Garden. He often works alongside Kate, an employee of the local Soil and Water Conservation District, and others. So far, they have harvested 55 pounds of produce, including beets, green beans, yellow beans, squash, carrots, onions, carrots, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and potatoes.

All of this nutritious food has been donated to 2 local food shelves, helping alleviate hunger in their community. Growing food in gardens also lowers the reliance on transporting food over long distances, which conserves energy.

Tom in his garden at the Goodhue, MN USDA Service Center

Serving in a State Park—Larry (St. Louis, MO)

Larry and his wife are both members of the Missouri Back Country Horsemen Association. With their fellow Association members, they have devoted countless hours to trail improvements and trail monitoring, and have also been called upon to aid park rangers in locating lost hikers or fallen riders. Their bow saws, determination, and perspiration ensure that the trails through this beautiful land remain clean, clear and useable by all.

Missouri Back Country Horsemen Association members on horseback

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service offers food safety tips for hurricane season

As the peak of the 2009 hurricane season approaches, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is providing recommendations to minimize the chance of foodborne illnesses due to power outages and other problems caused by severe weather.

“In the hours after a tropical storm or hurricane, food safety can become a critical public health issue,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold Mande. “With a little bit of planning and some common sense decision-making, people can make sure they have access to safe food and water even in the aftermath of severe storms.”

So how can you keep food safe when a storm knocks out the power? Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer, for starters. If you live in an area that often encounters severe weather, make sure you have coolers on hand and know where you can get dry and block ice.

Once the storm passes, it may take a while for power to be restored so resist temptation and keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible so the cold air does not escape. If the refrigerator door stays closed, the food inside can last safely for up to four hours. If the food still has ice crystals or is 40°F or colder when checked with a thermometer, it is safe to refreeze. Never taste it to determine its safety! A useful tip: Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for two days.

Flood waters often come with tropical storms and hurricanes. Unfortunately they bring the always present bacteria. Throw out food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance it has come into contact with flood water as well as other wooden or plastic kitchen equipment and utensils – don’t forget to throw out baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. You can wash other metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by soaking them for 15 minutes in a mixture of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water. You may be able to save undamaged, commercially prepared foods in all-metal cans and retort pouches by following our easy to follow tips.

Whether you have food in the refrigerator, freezor or cooler, including packaged goods and water, it is always better to be safe than sorry, so when in doubt, throw it out! FSIS has more tips to keep your food safe before, during and after a storm. Visit the FSIS fact sheet for all of the details and remember to Ask Karen , our virtual representative is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Check out our information on food safety during a power outage and hurricane preparedness and share the public service announcement, Podcasts in English and Spanish as well as the American Sign Language videocasts.

Walking through the Peoples’ Garden

The weather is holding through this afternoon, and the lunchtime crowd in the Peoples’ Garden is excited and really interested to see what’s happening.

Early in the afternoon, the DC Central Kitchen, a student-operated non-profit in the District of Columbia which works to develop and serve organic, nutritious food to people in need, demonstrated the making of their bruschetta — and they’re still serving it outside to great reviews!

Meanwhile, staff from the National Arboretum joined a group of curious folks to teach gardening in containers and pots — a perfect concept for Americans living in urban apartments or other places lacking green space to garden. Practical tips abounded — for example, terra cotta pots are great, but not if you need to move your garden around often (they’ll break). Instead, the staff outlined the benefits of new gardening pots that are more weather-and-damage resistant.

It’s always a lot of fun to walk in the garden on an afternoon like this one, and to see how many Americans are excited at the possibility of getting a garden of their own going. The workshops continue throughout the summer, and you can always learn more at the Peoples’ Garden page.