In my position as Under Secretary, I occasionally travel the country to meet with, and learn from, some of the many partners who administer and leverage the USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs. These programs—from school meals to SNAP (formerly food stamps)—currently touch the lives of one in four Americans.
During a whirlwind visit to Minnesota in March, I had the opportunity to meet with a variety of individuals and organizations directly or indirectly involved with one or more of our nutrition programs. For starters, I participated in a terrific roundtable at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health hosted by national nutrition expert Dr. Mary Story, a strong supporter of healthy school meals. Minnesota Senator Al Franken joined me to hear from local organizations and agencies that administer nutrition assistance programs, promote good nutrition or even work with farmers markets. I was impressed with the accomplishments being realized and the creative approaches employed by local partners to improve nutrition, eliminate hunger, support children and families, and connect farmers to local markets. Read more »
Minnesota soybean farmers and representatives from the Albert Lea Seed House, the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH) and Minnesota-based Shelter for Life International gather in Minnesota before the soybean seeds depart for Afghanistan. The shipment is part of the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Food for Progress Program and will provide Afghan farmers with 68.5 metric tons of early maturing soybean seeds to plant. (Photo by Dan Lemke, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council)
Minnesota soybean farmers recently gathered at a local seed house to witness final preparations for a shipment of U.S. soybean seeds about to make a 7,000-mile journey to Afghanistan. The shipment is part of the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Food for Progress Program and will provide subsistence farmers in Afghanistan with 68.5 metric tons of early maturing soybean seeds to plant. Read more »
Jim VanDerPol get his pigs ready for market on his Pastures A Plenty farm in Kerkhoven, Minn.
“We think that fresh air and sunshine are the best health guarantee.” That’s the quote you’ll see after opening a brochure from Pastures A Plenty Farm. Spend an hour with the VanDerPol family and you quickly understand that those words are much more than just a marketing slogan. It’s the family’s philosophy.
Pastures A Plenty’s pork products can be found in many co-ops, retail outlets, restaurants and local stores throughout Minnesota. The VanDerPols feed their hogs on grass and straw and use a wholistic veterinary approach featuring probiotics and spices instead of drugs. Read more »
Bonnie Chirstenson from University of Minnesota Extension (far right) shows students in Mrs. Jones’ sixth-grade class in Tracy Elementary how to make pumpkin pudding using a locally grown pumpkin.
On a fall morning in Mrs. Jones’ sixth-grade class in Tracy, Minn., students are learning how to make pumpkin pudding.
Instead of using a can opener to pry the lid off cans of pumpkin, a real pumpkin is being used. And not just any real pumpkin, a pumpkin that came straight from a local garden and into the classroom.
The classroom isn’t the only place in Tracy Elementary where local foods are becoming more prevalent. The lunchroom also features more foods grown by local producers and served in school lunches. Read more »
Tyler, Minn., is a long way from New York City, but the small-town of 1,143 people has something in common with the Big Apple: Both have recently had to deal with major weather events.
Obviously, the destruction and devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy is on a much wider scale than what Tyler experienced when a tornado leveled homes and businesses on July 1, 2011. But both disasters highlight the importance of emergency preparedness, whether you live in a high-rise in midtown Manhattan, or on a farm in Tyler.
Rural communities face unique challenges when dealing with emergency response and major weather events. It’s essential that small towns have the latest technology and equipment to keep residents safe during an emergency. Read more »
Harvest Moon Local Foods Co-op manager David Giedd shows a selection of locally grown meats to USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer.
Like any new venture, there are a number of obstacles to overcome when starting a local foods cooperative. The fact that people in Long Lake, Minn. chose to start a cooperative during the economic downturn in 2007-08 was just another of those obstacles. Read more »