Tough times and dire circumstances have a longstanding history of bringing America’s communities and organizations together. The recent storms that descended on much of the nation’s Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions have underscored these important partnerships.
For many of the stricken areas, including the urban centers in the Northeast, natural disasters of this scale are relatively rare. And households containing the very young, elderly and those with special needs are of particular concern to USDA and our many partners engaged in these emergencies.
To aid those in Hurricane Sandy’s crosshairs, USDA swiftly coordinated with FEMA, States, and partner organizations to provide disaster nutrition assistance in 13 states. By issuing automatic, mass replacement of SNAP benefits to certain households hit by the storm – for instance – SNAP individuals and families currently participating in SNAP will be able to replace their food purchased with SNAP benefits that spoiled due to flooding and power outages. In the severely affected areas of New Jersey and New York SNAP recipients will be granted a waiver to purchase hot foods with their benefits. In addition, USDA has worked with retailer trade associations to ensure SNAP authorized stores are aware of this waiver and eligibility for the purchase of hot foods through the month of November. Meanwhile, several other States have been granted extensions to report loss of food purchased with their SNAP benefits and to request replacement benefits. Read more »
US Forest Service wildland firefighters and interagency crews mobilized to assist with Hurricane Sandy response. Rachel Smith ESF4 Lead at FEMA Region 1 Regional Response Coordination Center Maynard, Mass., on Oct. 30, 2012. US Forest Service photo/Rachael Smith.
When Hurricane Sandy arrived in New Jersey and New York, so did the Forest Service and other interagency wildland firefighting specialists filling orders from FEMA and assisting in the massive clean-up effort that is critically needed on the East Coast.
“Our Incident Management Teams bring skills in organization, planning and logistics to meet the needs of communities tragically affected by Hurricane Sandy,” said Tidwell. “Crews are clearing downed trees, providing support to local emergency response agencies and assisting at FEMA facilities.” Read more »
Today I participated in event with Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel to highlight the challenge of increasing access to healthy foods. It’s a conversation that I and others at USDA have had many times before. From small towns to big cities, people are talking about how to get more fresh, healthy food into their communities. Everywhere I go, parents ask how and where they can get fresh fruits and vegetables for their children. Schools ask for advice on sourcing healthier food for school meals. Shoppers ask where they can buy healthy foods in their neighborhoods.
According to the Institute of Medicine, 1 in 3 children and 2 out of 3 adults are overweight or obese. The percentage of obese adults in the United States is expected to reach 42 percent by 2030. More than 20 million Americans have diabetes, and 79 million are pre-diabetic. Our nation’s children may be the first American generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents’, due in large part to obesity-related diseases . In addition, the economic costs of obesity and related chronic health issues are staggering at an estimated $147 billion per year in direct costs, and billions more if indirect costs such as lost productivity are included. Read more »
ALB damage featuring tunneling and exit holes on cut trees
Imagining our communities without trees is hard to fathom. Unfortunately, there is an insect that threatens the trees we love – the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB). It’s an invasive insect that feeds on certain species of hardwood trees, eventually killing them. Since its discovery in the United States, the beetle has caused tens-of-thousands of trees to be destroyed in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, and most recently in Ohio. Read more »
In today’s housing market downturn, New Jersey and Arizona are fortunate to have been selected as two of the 19 states to participate in the USDA Guaranteed Single Family Housing Refinance Pilot Program. In New Jersey, many homeowners are struggling to make ends meet especially with high interest mortgage rates. This program, when implemented, can benefit as many as 3000 rural homeowners in the “Garden State.” A healthy and strong housing market is vital to sustaining New Jersey’s current economic recovery.
(left to right) Dominick Ferrante, Representing Congressman Robert Andrews; USDA Rural Development State Director Howard Henderson; Housing Administrator Tammye Treviño; Pat Delaney, Sun National Bank; and Robert Angradi, Oak Mortgage Company discuss the refinance pilot program at the New Jersey roundtable meeting.
USDA Housing Administrator Tammye Treviño was in New Jersey earlier this month to facilitate a roundtable meeting on the rural refinance pilot program. Joining Administrator Treviño in these discussions were lenders, credit & housing counselors, Congressional staff, and Rural Development representatives. Read more »
L-R: Orlando Housing Authority President Vivian Bryant; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Rural Development Florida State Director Richard Machek and Rural Development Florida Single Family Housing Program Director Daryl Cooper participated in a business roundtable in Orlando, Fla., last Friday. They discussed the USDA Rural Development Home Refinancing Pilot Program which is available to USDA borrowers in 19 states.
When most people think of Orlando, Florida, they envision exciting theme parks, Cinderella’s castle and a mouse with big ears. But when USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Orlando on February 24th, it was with a different vision in mind. Read more »