Map of the dollar value of USDA Foods purchased in FY 2014; icons represent the states that are the largest sources of a particular type of USDA Foods. (Click to view a larger version)
Do you know where your food comes from? If you can pinpoint where your food was grown and produced, you can make more informed decisions to maximize quality, freshness, and nutritional value. You can also help support local economies through your purchases. The USDA Foods program takes this mantra to heart and publishes state of origin reports with procurement information on all USDA Foods every year. As we like to say at FNS, “All USDA Foods are local to someone.”
USDA Foods are 100 percent American grown and produced. Each year, USDA procures more than 200 types of food, including meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, flour, cereals, and dairy products, totaling approximately $2 billion. Organizations such as food banks, disaster and emergency feeding organizations, Indian Tribal Organizations, schools, and other feeding groups receive these USDA Foods for use in meal service or distribution to households through programs like the National School Lunch Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations. Read more »
FNS’ initial response includes providing USDA Foods to disaster relief organizations. This include a variety of canned, fresh, frozen and dry products including fruits, vegetables, meats, and whole grains.
Twice a year, as part of America’s PrepareAthon!, USDA works closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as well as with other Federal, state and local partners to promote emergency preparedness. When disasters strike, it’s not only important for you and your family to be prepared, it’s also critical that your community be prepared. USDA supports local communities by providing access to healthy meals in emergency situations.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) ensures people have access to nutritious food when they find themselves suddenly in need of assistance following a storm, earthquake, flood or other disaster emergency. Oftentimes after a disaster, retail food stores are closed making it impossible for families to get the food they need. Even after stores reopen, disaster survivors often still are recovering financially which makes buying food difficult. FNS programs are there to help in those circumstances. Read more »
Summer meals help close the nutrition gap children face when schools let out for summer — when children no longer receive school meals they relied on throughout the school year.
The following guest blog discusses the importance of USDA Summer Meals Programs, which provide children with healthy food during the summer, when the school meals they depend on disappear. Childhood memories shared by the writer demonstrate how critical healthy meals are to the growth and development of children. USDA’s approaches to making summer meals accessible are also highlighted.
By Jesus Garcia, Special Assistant, Office of Communications, Administration for Children and Families (HHS)
When I was young, summers seemed to last forever. Days were long and hot in rural South Texas.
One thing I looked forward to after riding my bicycle all over the neighborhood was a nice lunch prepared by my grandmother Angelita. Meals like arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) or carne guisada (stewed meat) with a side of beans provided the energy I needed to keep up with an adventurous summer.
Good food not only helps your body climb hills when you’re a kid, but it helps your brain develop in order to learn new stuff. For some children in our communities, though, not enough healthy food is available for them to enjoy and help them grow. Luckily, a very helpful program exists that communities can use to tackle this problem: USDA’s Summer Meal Programs. Read more »
4-H Delegates learn about Team Nutrition resources as nutrition education tools to take back to their schools and communities.
One key strategy in helping schools serve nutritious and appealing meals that students will eat is to simply ask, “What do you need?”
On April 9, USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) asked this simple yet compelling question to nearly 40 4-H delegates at the 2016 National 4-H Conference in Chevy Chase, Md. USDA FNS hosted the roundtable session, “Healthy Eating in Schools: A Dialogue with USDA Food & Nutrition Service,” in an effort to give eager student leaders a chance to share their views on school meals and healthy eating. Participants came from all across the U.S. states and territories, from Nebraska to North Carolina, and as far away as Puerto Rico and a U.S. Air Force base in Japan. Read more »
Winning submissions of the E.A.T. School Lunch U.X. Challenge featured on contest website.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) teamed up with techies across the nation to strengthen the integrity and improve the user experience of the National School Lunch Program application. On December 1, 2015, we launched a public “hackathon” contest – the E.A.T. (Electronic Application Transformation) School Lunch U.X. Challenge – to tap into this country’s greatest resource: its people.
Designers and coders have been working furiously to develop a forward-thinking, web-based application for the school meal programs that would revolutionize the way households apply for free and reduced price meals. Nearly 50 individuals, teams and organizations submitted electronic application prototypes, and a panel of five expert judges took to the task of selecting the winners. Read more »
Sesame Asian Noodle Chicken Salad; a new USDA recipe just posted!
USDA’s Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services just released 50 new, mouth-watering recipes for schools chefs on our What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl website. Some are existing USDA recipes that we’ve updated, while others are brand new recipes that students will love. These tasty, kid-approved recipes are tailored for large quantity food service operations in 25, 50, or 100 portions. And each recipe includes a nutritional breakdown as well as crediting information on how the recipe contributes toward updated meal pattern requirements for the National School Lunch Program and other USDA child nutrition programs.
The 50 recipes include main dishes and side dishes featuring more nutrient-rich ingredients such as whole grains, dark green and red/orange vegetables, and beans/legumes than ever before. And an additional 150 recipes are being developed and will be posted throughout the next year! These recipes will provide a ready-to-go resource for school nutrition professionals looking for delicious, nutrient-rich dishes that will make it easy to meet meal pattern requirements and satisfy hungry kids. Read more »