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 »
In early May, USDA agency directors appeared before the Pennsylvania Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. The Committee, chaired by Pennsylvania Senator Elder Vogel, Jr., heard agency heads discuss various USDA programs. Senator Vogel recently introduced a resolution honoring the USDA on its 150th Anniversary.
Bill Wehry, State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency, discussed the Conservation, Price Support, Disaster and Farm Loan Programs available through his agency. Denise Coleman, State Conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service, discussed the Working Lands for Wildlife and Water Quality Initiative, while Thomas Williams, State Director, Rural Development, discussed the various Energy and Disaster Aid Programs, Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program, and Value Added and Community Facilities Programs. Read more »
Located in the heart of a “food desert” in the city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Joshua Farm is a unique one-acre operation that is growing produce for locals through the use of a seasonal high tunnel.
Founder Kirsten Reinford and daughter Havah at Joshua Farm, a unique one-acre operation in Harrisburg, Penn., that grows over 40 varieties of fresh produce for local families.
The high tunnel (also known as a “hoop house”) makes urban farming possible and extends the growing season. Joshua Farm installed its high tunnel with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »
David Fink, owner of Heidel Hollow Farm, described the farm’s energy savings from the 896 panel solar array funded by USDA Rural Development to USDA officials and others gathered at his farm.
The sun shone brightly on the 896 panel solar array at Heidel Hollow Farm in Germansville, Penn., as USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Cheryl L. Cook, other USDA officials and guests celebrated the farm’s successful renewable energy project and the announcement of a new USDA Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Report. Heidel Hollow Farm, a family-owned, 1,600 acre hay farm, was awarded two USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants in 2010. The grants were used toward a solar energy project that provides approximately 252,800 KW of electricity used in the hay compressing operation of the farm and an energy efficiency project that replaced one diesel engine with five electric motors, saving over 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year. The compactor increases the density of baled hay by 2 1/2 times for more efficient shipping to overseas customers. Read more »
(L to R) Jane C.W. Vincent, HUD Regional Administrator; Tammye Trevino, USDA Housing and Community Facilities Administrator; Thomas P. Williams, USDA Rural Development State Director; Brian A. Hudson Sr., PHFA Executive Director and CEO
In a step forward in the Obama Administration’s desire to streamline government policies and build stronger inter-agency partnerships, USDA Rural Development, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) jointly announced the launch of a pilot program that will reduce regulatory burdens on affordable housing developers and owners. The program will help state and federal agencies better serve low-income families who rent their homes by reducing regulations across several layers of government. Read more »
Trainee Peter Humber uses newly acquired skills to assist with an ecological restoration project in Philadelphia. He and other youth learned basic tree care, nursery and nature resource restoration skills through a Forest Service Recovery Act-funded arboriculture training program.
A Forest Service Recovery Act-funded arboriculture training program is helping young trainees learn basic tree care, nursery, and natural resource restoration skills while revitalizing urban areas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Read more »