A passion for agriculture is what brought 50 young farmers to the Washington, D.C., area this week, as part of a national networking forum for the next generation of producers.
“We want to let young producers know that their voice is important and they shouldn’t be hesitant or bashful about communicating with policymakers,” said Gordon Stone, executive vice president of the National Young Farmer Educational Association, or NYFEA, which sponsored Agriculture’s Promise: The Washington Forum.
Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse joined several speakers on day two of the three-day event — held Monday, Feb. 4 at National Harbor — to provide an overview of the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management and Foreign Agricultural Service and encourage discussion about USDA’s programs and policies. Scuse mentioned a new microloan program designed to help small and family operations, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers secure loans under $35,000. Microloans will help producers through their start-up years by providing needed resources and helping to increase equity so that farmers may eventually graduate to commercial credit and expand their operations. Scuse also spoke about the importance of communicating effectively with rural America. Read more »
It’s been two years since President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law. The Act cleared the way for historic improvements to the child nutrition programs, such as school lunch and school breakfast, that serve millions of our nation’s children. We’ve already implemented many provisions of the Act, with many schools reporting success in meeting the new standards, and students finding the new school meals to be an improvement from the status quo. This coming year will be a busy one as we continue to make program updates that help us fight both child hunger and obesity.
Because of the Act, we’ve been able to improve standards for the content of school lunches—and soon school breakfasts— making them healthier than ever before. However, I know implementation is a process that takes time, and as the school year progresses we will continue listening and providing additional education, technical assistance, and flexibilities where appropriate. Throughout this first year, we are closely monitoring implementation and adapting the support we provide to States and schools based on challenges that arise.
We also made the first real reimbursement rate increase for those meals in 30 years to help schools adjust to the changes. Because we know how influential the school environment can be when it comes to encouraging kids to make healthy choices, USDA will propose new standards for other foods sold in schools including in vending machines. Read more »
As a new school year begins, I’m proud to say that the Obama Administration is taking historic steps to make the school day healthier for kids in schools across the country. I’m excited about the changes showing up in cafeterias this school year – more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; low-fat and fat-free milk choices; and fewer salty and fatty foods.
In addition to those changes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working with parents, teachers and school cafeteria managers to ensure our kids get the right amount of food. Menus are planned for grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 and the meals are “right-sized” so that kids get the appropriate amount of calories and the correct portions of different foods. To further improve menu changes, we’re increasing the focus on reducing the amounts of sodium, saturated fat and trans fats available in those meals. Read more »
Fruit and Veggie Ambassadors sampling fresh fruit and vegetables at a Pawtucket Summer Food Service Program.
Do you know what a Malanga is? What about a Chocolate Pepper? The “Fruit and Vegetable Ambassador ” (F&V Ambassador) students of Slater Jr. High School in Pawtucket, Rhode Island learned about these unusual vegetables and more during their Summer Food Service Program fruit and vegetable taste testing. For the less adventurous vegetable eater, a Malanga is a root vegetable that has a nutlike flavor and when cut open looks similar to a sweet potato. A Chocolate Pepper is a purple Bell Pepper.
The students at this summer food program are nicknamed the “F&V Ambassadors” of their school. Along with this prestigious title, students get cool t-shirts and, most importantly, the responsibility of encouraging fellow students throughout the school year to make healthier decisions at lunchtime. Read more »
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:
The winners of the Communities on the Move Video Challenge have been chosen! Since First Lady Michelle Obama announced the Video Challenge in February, Let’s Move Faith and Communities has been inspired by every congregation and community that submitted a video highlighting how they are promoting healthy lifestyles for kids. From putting on nutrition-themed puppet shows in Connecticut to advocating for safer play spaces in Colorado and preaching healthy living from the pulpit in Florida, the ideas in these videos demonstrate the commitment that communities across the country have to reversing the trend of childhood obesity within a generation.
The Video Challenge encouraged faith-based and neighborhood organizations to create one-to-three minute videos highlighting the work they are doing to make their communities or congregations places of wellness. The challenge recognized efforts that promote healthy lifestyles for kids in three areas: encouraging nutritious eating through USDA’s MyPlate icon, increasing physical activity, and ensuring access to healthy, affordable foods. The winners and honorable mentions will be invited to Washington, D.C. for a Let’s Move! event. Read more »
Shown in the first Czech People’s Garden, planted on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Prague, is Jana Mikulasova, an agricultural specialist with the Foreign Agricultural Service. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy, Prague)
The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Prague, Czech Republic, joined the People’s Garden initiative in the summer of 2009, when employees started planning their project, researching potential garden sites, and identifying input suppliers and partners. Their effort bore fruit in summer 2010 with the first Czech People’s Garden planted at the U.S. Embassy compound in Prague. Read more »