Adam McCurry, Agricultural Technician for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Yancey County conducts a lesson about local apple varieties before taking students outside to plant an apple tree at Bald Creek Elementary School in Burnsville, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Asheville, North Carolina)
Kids are headed back to school and so are county Extension agents.
As schools continue to teach kids where their food comes from and bring local and regional products into the school cafeteria, one group they may want to partner with on their farm to school activities is their local or regional Cooperative Extension office. Cooperative Extension Systems are administered by each state’s Land-Grant University System. Programs are available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and most states have local or regional Extension offices that are staffed by one or more experts, often referred to as Extension agents or Extension educators.
Nationally, more and more Cooperative Extension Systems are devoting key resources to supporting farm to school activities. Of the 68 fiscal year 2013 USDA Farm to School Grants distributed, 25 percent included partners from Cooperative Extension. State Extension Systems such as Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois have already dedicated resources and personnel to leading their states farm to school programs. And at the upcoming national Extension conference, farm to school and local foods are sure to be a major themes discussed. Read more »
From June first through the eighth, USDA will host faculty and staff from the 32 land-grant tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) that work in the areas of agriculture, conservation, science, or community development to participate in the USDA Land-Grant Development/Tribal Fellowship Program, a key component of the Terra Preta do Indio Tribal Fellowship Suite. The USDA 1994 Tribal Land-Grant Colleges and Universities Program office works with land-grant TCUs to develop their land-grant capacities and rural tribal economies to ensure the US’ food security. In order to achieve this mission, the Department offers accepted applicants a Tribal Fellowship, a one-week intensive workshop which includes the cost of travel, lodging, and per diem.
Over the course of the workshop, Fellows learn about programs and resources available throughout USDA and where and how to access them. They have an opportunity to exchange ideas with their colleagues, ask questions of specialists, and to consider which of the resources discussed might benefit their institutions. Fellows apply their knowledge by developing or revisiting their strategic plan to address the needs of their 1994 tribal land-grant college in the areas of agriculture, conservation, and the development of their rural communities – in collaboration with their institutions tribal community and with support from our staff and USDA service centers. Read more »
In 2009, 14.7% of U.S. households were insecure, meaning that at some point during the year these households were uncertain of having, or unable to obtain, enough food. In addition to tracking and reporting on hunger in the United States, USDA plays a significant role in helping families acquire food through a myriad of nutrition programs (15 in all), inluding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the National School Lunch Program.
An area of USDA support for finding solutions to hunger that may be overlooked is through our National Instutite for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), an agency within the Department that supports research, education and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. Last week we annouced eight awards totaling more than $18 million, made through the Agriculture Food and Research Initiative (AFRI), that are supporting local and regional food systems while investigating sustainable solutions to food access within those regions. Here’s a list of the projects: Read more »