From left to right: Bruce Summers - Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA); Travis Hubbs - Assistant Regional Director, PACA Division, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA); Yowei Peralta - Senior Marketing Specialist, PACA Division, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA); Elise Golan - Director of Sustainable Development, Office of The Chief Economist (USDA); Christine Hofmann - Marketing Coordinator, Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market; Dan Kane - General Manager, Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market; Rose Harrell - Deputy Director of Maryland Food Center Authority & President of National Association of Produce Market Managers
Did you know that nearly one-third of the food available to U.S. retailers and consumers never makes it to the dining room table? That’s 133 billion pounds of food going to waste–all of which has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation, and climate change. Experts have projected that reducing food waste by just 15 percent would provide the equivalent of enough food for more than 25 million Americans every year.
That’s why my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), decided to help tackle the problem by sponsoring the Terminal Market Food Waste Challenge. Produce markets across the U.S. joined the friendly 90-day competition by making sure that usable fruits and vegetables were not thrown away. While these fresh foods weren’t picture-perfect supermarket quality or simply didn’t sell, they were healthy, wholesome foods that could be made into juices, added to animal feeds, used for compost, or donated to charity. Read more »
A grower and an internal auditor look over records during a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audit. The grower is in the GroupGAP Program, which allows grower groups to pool their resources to establish food safety best practices, lead food safety trainings, develop quality management systems, and pay for certification costs. Photo courtesy of the Upper Peninsula Food Exchange.
Are you preparing to meet the new Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Produce Safety rule standards? Have you heard about Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)? Maybe you’ve heard that they can get buyers to notice your products and improve your access to the market place – but you need more information to know if it can work for you.
USDA is hard at work connecting growers with training and resources to support GAP certification and expand their food safety know how. We’ve made big investments in food safety education for growers in recent years, supporting projects through AMS grant programs—the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Federal-State Market Improvement Program, Farmers Market Promotion Program, and Local Food Promotion Program. Read more »
MPS Jr. Iron Chef Competition with Chef Ann Kim and a True Food Chef Council member
It’s that time of year – books, backpacks and a BBQ! That’s right – Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) is preparing for its annual Farm to School Community BBQ, a much anticipated back-to-school event that kicks off the school year. The following guest blog features inspiring initiatives MPS has implemented to serve local foods to its 35,000 students in the district.
Since 2011, MPS has sourced fresh produce, meats, baked goods and other products from local farmers and manufacturers. Purchasing local foods supports Minnesota farms and small businesses and provides opportunities for students to learn how their food is grown by extending farm to school efforts beyond the cafeteria and into the classroom with visits from farmers and taste-tests.
Farm to school also helps to support another USDA initiative designed to enhance school meals – the What’s Shaking? Creative Ways to Boost Flavor with Less Sodium initiative. Using local foods means that school nutrition programs are preparing more meals from scratch, allowing them to control the amount of sodium. Farm to school gets students engaged and excited about school meals – and with the community BBQ, both kids and their families get a sneak peek at what’s going to be on the lunch menu for the new school year.
By Kate Seybold, Farm to School Coordinator, Minneapolis Public Schools
What better way to ring in the new school year than by celebrating the bounties of local produce that farmers harvest during the back-to-school season? Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) is hosting its Fifth Annual Farm to School Community BBQ – a community event built around fresh food, families and fun! The event brings together MPS students and their families, school staff, local farmers and vendors, True Food Chef Council members and other community partners in celebration of Minnesota Farm to School Month and our farm to school program. Read more »
The “California Wrap” was served at many districts across Contra Costa County, a strategy that allows them to purchase collectively on California Thursdays.
June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month! To celebrate this, we’re showcasing the important work of California Thursdays, a collaboration between the Center for Ecoliteracy and a network of public school districts to serve healthy, freshly prepared school meals made from California-grown food. The following guest blog also highlights the inspiring work of the Center for Ecoliteracy, a partner with USDA’s national sodium reduction in schools-initiative, What’s Shaking? Creative Ways to Boost Flavor with Less Sodium.
By Jennifer Gerard, R.D., Center for Ecoliteracy, California Food for California Kids Program Director
What’s your favorite day of the week? For many students in California — it’s Thursday.
On Thursdays, over 1.7 million students in schools that participate in the California Thursdays program know they’ll be offered a lunch freshly prepared from California ingredients. California Thursdays is a celebration of local food, the people who produce and prepare it, and the significant connections that exist between children, food, and their environment. Read more »
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service helps protect growers, like the romaine lettuce producer pictured above, by representing American interests at meetings of the Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC).
Now that it’s June, many of us are enjoying a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables that will be available throughout the summer. During the rest of the year, some of these same fresh fruits and vegetables are available to American consumers thanks to trade agreements with Canada and Mexico.
In the last five years, the value and volume of fresh fruits and vegetables from Canada and Mexico to the United States has grown. In 2015, the U.S. imported more than 2.8 billion pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables from Canada, valued at $1.4 billion. From Mexico, the U.S. imported 17.4 billion pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables for $9.1 billion. U.S. fruit and vegetable growers also have benefited. In 2015, the U.S. exported nearly 7.1 billion pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to Canada and Mexico, worth $4.2 billion. Read more »
Administrator Starmer and AMS Market News reporter, Holly Mozal, visit Coosemans, D.C. Coosemans is a wholesale supplier of fresh herbs and specialty produce to chain stores and food service distributors.
Since USDA launched the U.S. Food Waste Challenge in 2013, leaders and organizations across the food chain have committed to reducing, recovering, and recycling food loss and waste. Last week, I joined our newest partners in this effort at the Jessup Terminal Market to launch their own friendly competition, the Terminal Market U.S. Food Waste Challenge.
The National Association of Produce Market Managers (NAPMM) organized the competition and is leading the charge to reduce food waste at produce terminal markets, which are endpoints within the wholesale supply chain where fruits and vegetables are bought and sold for retail use. Because they act as hubs for large quantities of perishable foods, these markets provide a big opportunity to prevent food waste and can play a key role in reaching the first U. S. national food waste reduction goal: a 50 percent reduction in food waste by year 2030. Read more »