Under Secretary Kevin Concannon takes a photo of his lunch mates at Arcola Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md.
March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.
Until 6 months ago, I was a typical academic. I spent most of my time doing research on obesity. Apart from a few years in consulting between college and graduate school, my entire career has been in a university. Since so much of my research aims to inform policy, I decided it was time for me to see how decisions actually get made. This past summer, I had the good fortune of being selected to the White House Fellowship – a fantastic year-long program which provides an intimate view of federal policy making. Each fellow is placed in the executive branch, and my home for this year is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). At USDA, I work as a Senior Policy Advisor to Under Secretary Kevin Concannon in Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. This is a great fit for me since USDA – among other things – oversees the suite of federal nutrition assistance programs that help low-income families (including mine when I was a young child) put food on the table in times of need.
To be frank, I thought I would love the experience and hate government. From my outsider perspective, government seemed clunky, inefficient and bloated with too many people doing redundant work. I was completely wrong. Read more »
Arthur “Butch” Blazer and colleagues on a tour of Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona led by Michelle Curry. Diné College is a community college serving the Navajo Nation
I recently traveled to New Mexico and Arizona to visit with local Navajo government leaders, Tribal College officials, and community members to hear about life on the Navajo Reservation. Michael Burns, from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was also there to discuss an important new collaboration, the College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP).
CUPP develops partnerships between underserved communities and geographically close colleges and universities to provide technical support through faculty, students and staff at no cost to those communities. One of my top priorities is for USDA to help EPA expand the CUPP program to involve Tribal communities and colleges to advance the cause of environmental justice. Read more »
One of the fifty families in New Hampshire whose affordable rental home was preserved for 30 more Holiday seasons to come.
Oh, there’s nooooo place like hooooome for the holidays… Every time I hear that song I get an extra spring in my step knowing that I work for an organization that helped more than 160,000 families afford to buy, rent, or repair their homes this year. That’s 160,000 families in rural America that are home for the Holidays.
This year, 50 New Hampshire families living in one of our rental housing facilities were on the verge of losing their homes, but because of local community action groups, and my amazing team of affordable rural housing professionals, USDA Rural Development is able to continue to provide rental assistance to 50 Granite State families for the next 30 years. Last month, we were able to close a deal that will keep these 50 families, and an additional 50 elderly and disabled tenants in a neighboring affordable housing community in their homes affordably for the next 30 years. Read more »
U.S. Christmas tree growers harvested and sold 20 million trees last year, up 55 percent in 5 years.
From the smell of fresh pine, to the vibrant colors of poinsettias, the holiday season is the perfect time of year to spotlight America’s horticulture growers through the just released 2014 Census of Horticultural Specialties report. I’ve experienced firsthand how unique and amazing this industry is by working nationwide with producers and stakeholders as USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics (NASS) nursery and floriculture commodity specialist.
For example, did you know farmers can invest more than 8 years growing a Christmas tree for harvest? While there are not many producers dedicated to this work, according to our latest report industry sales grew. In 2014, there were 3,386 Christmas tree producers in the United States. That year there were a total of 20 million cut Christmas trees sold, valued at $367 million in sales. This was a significant increase from the last report in 2009, when only 13 million trees were cut and sold for a total of $250 million. Read more »
Stephen Handler leading teachers through a field exercise at the G-WOW Changing Climate, Changing Culture Teacher Institute. (Photo credit: Cathy Techtmann, University of Wisconsin-Extension)
USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska. Follow along on the USDA blog.
When you are faced with a big problem, it helps to have all your friends working together.
There’s a great example of this philosophy playing out in the Northwoods of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan between the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, an organization that supports the hunting, gathering, and fishing treaty rights of 11 member Ojibwe tribes and the U.S. Forest Service. Representatives of the Commission and Forest Service meet regularly to collaborate on a wide range of issues, including wildlife management, law enforcement, and youth education. Read more »
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner (fifth from right) cuts the ribbon for the Mt. Pleasant Native Farmers Market with Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Chief Steve Pego.
To update you on a story featured previously, I was honored to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s Mt. Pleasant Native Farmers Market. We broke ground on this project in June, and it is great to see the pavilion completed in time to share this summer’s produce.
Tribal Chief Steve Pego sang a ceremonial song and a traditional offering of medicine was made to commemorate the occasion. He noted that the response had been overwhelming and hoped it would lead to revival of interest in growing traditional crops and also improve the diet of tribal members, moving them away from processed food to fresh, locally-grown produce. Read more »