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Posts tagged: Michigan

USDA Partners with a Michigan Town to Improve Quality of Health Care

Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow speaks at the ground-breaking for the new USDA-supported Cassopolis Family Clinic. USDA photo.

Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow speaks at the ground-breaking for the new USDA-supported Cassopolis Family Clinic. USDA photo.

Cassopolis, located in southwest Michigan, recently celebrated the ground-breaking for the new USDA Rural Development supported Cassopolis Family Clinic.  Like many rural communities, Cassopolis has limited facilities for health care, particularly for low-income residents.  The Cassopolis Family Clinic was founded more than 50 years ago to serve the surrounding community and the facility will bring that service into the future.

USDA Rural Development was represented at the event by Paw Paw Sub-Area Office Team Leader Lisa Epple, who was joined by local leaders and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. Read more »

Healthy Incentives Pilot Shows Small Investment Leads to Big Impact

Earlier today, Secretary Vilsack announced the results of the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) , a pilot project designed to test the impact of incentivizing fruit and vegetable purchases among SNAP recipients. The pilot showed that an ongoing investment of less than 15 cents per person per day may result in a 25 percent increase in fruit and vegetable consumption among adults. Adults receiving the HIP incentive consumed, on average, an ounce more fruits and vegetables per day than non-participants.

These are promising and exciting results. But we know that there is no silver bullet that can solve the problems of poor diet and obesity among American children and families. Despite increased public awareness of the vital role of nutritious food choices and proper physical activity on our health, the habits of most Americans—SNAP recipients and non-recipients alike—fall short of the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. And although research shows that healthy foods aren’t necessarily more expensive than less healthy options, many low income people face additional time and resource challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table that can make less healthy options seem more appealing. Read more »

Extra! Extra Samples Feed Families in Need!

“Thank you for the generous donations of produce that you have given to assist us with our outreach mission. With your help we are able to provide food for needy senior citizens,” said Denise Smartt Sears from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in New Rochelle, NY.

“Thank you for the generous donations of produce that you have given to assist us with our outreach mission. With your help we are able to provide food for needy senior citizens,” said Denise Smartt Sears from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in New Rochelle, NY.

It is a simple idea. If you have more than you need, share with those who don’t have enough.  An estimated 50 million Americans do not have access to enough food. So what can be done? Amazing things can happen when you implement a simple idea by combining a love of agriculture and commitment to community with a government program.

For over 10 years, samplers working for the Pesticide Data Program, a part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, have been donating excess food from their samples to local organizations including food banks, homeless shelters, senior citizens centers, battered women shelters, and churches.  The Program requires samples of fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products at markets and chain store distribution centers throughout the country for testing and analysis of pesticide residues on agricultural commodities in the U.S. food supply. Read more »

Saving the Government Money, Ecologist Also Helps With Complex Wetland Restoration

Paul Rutledge provides scale by standing near a large Yellow Birch found on the Trapp Farm Nature Preserve Wetland Reserve Program project. (NRCS photo/Kathy Ryan)

Paul Rutledge provides scale by standing near a large Yellow Birch found on the Trapp Farm Nature Preserve Wetland Reserve Program project. (NRCS photo/Kathy Ryan)

Dr. Paul Rutledge was recently honored with a National Individual Volunteer Award for his contributions to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Earth Team.

Earth Team is a volunteer workforce that helps NRCS maintain and improve natural resources on private lands. Out of the 19,075 Earth Team volunteers across the nation, only four individuals received this award this year. Read more »

Great Lakes Greenhouse Gives Native Plants a Second Chance

Volunteers help harvest native seedlings at the Hiawatha National Forest greenhouse in Marquette, Mich. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Volunteers help harvest native seedlings at the Hiawatha National Forest greenhouse in Marquette, Mich. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Biologists have long recognized the important role native plants play in maintaining a healthy forest. When native plants are crowded out by invasive plants, those native species can suffer to the point of extinction.

Since the early 1990s, the Hiawatha National Forest has operated a greenhouse in Marquette, Mich. The idea is to provide both native seeds and seedlings for successful restoration of sites impacted by logging or disturbed by other land management activities. For instance, when aging culverts are replaced, native plants can be introduced to re-vegetate disturbed soil. Seeds and seedlings are also used to enhance existing wildlife habitats. Read more »

Agriculture and Rural Main Streets on the Agenda for Smart Growth

Agriculture and food system development were featured agenda topics at the recent New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, an annual conference sponsored by the Local Government Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control and several other public and private organizations.

I went to the Smart Growth conference on behalf of USDA Rural Development to demonstrate USDA’s commitment to investing in the future of rural communities.  Smart Growth principles can offer innovative strategies for using scarce federal dollars efficiently to promote sustainable and sound investments on main streets everywhere, and are valuable in helping rural communities consider how to creatively use existing resources and infrastructure to serve and celebrate their unique identities. Read more »