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Posts tagged: Puerto Rico

Celebrating the Civilian Conservation Corps

Scouts from Boy Scouts of America Troop 88 dig a hole for a new interpretative sign. (Forest Service photo/Tiffany Holloway)

Scouts from Boy Scouts of America Troop 88 dig a hole for a new interpretative sign. (Forest Service photo/Tiffany Holloway)

On a recent cool, crisp spring morning in the mountains of Virginia, the Boy Scouts of America Troop 88 followed in the footsteps of the first “boys” of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the CCC.

The first CCC camp, Camp Roosevelt, was established April 17, 1933 at the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Over time, the forest had 14 camps. Read more »

Shade-Grown Coffee Protects Puerto Rico Bay Coral Reefs

Shade-grown coffee helps protect water quality and coral reefs like this one in Puerto Rico. NOAA photo.

Shade-grown coffee helps protect water quality and coral reefs like this one in Puerto Rico. NOAA photo.

I work for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency that helps farmers voluntarily implement conservation practices on their lands across the U.S.—including land on my home, Puerto Rico.

I am extremely proud of recent NRCS efforts here to help farmers, ranchers and landowners make significant strides in conserving the Guánica Bay/Rio Loco watershed. This watershed, which is about 100 miles southwest of San Juan, is one of the most diverse and complex in Puerto Rico. Read more »

SNAP Remains a Safety Net for Veterans and Families in Need

Cross posted from the blog:

Today, I was thinking about the last entry I wrote for’s blog just about a year ago and considering our accomplishments in 2012 and the opportunities that are ahead for 2013.

The need for food assistance remained high in 2012, with an average of 47 million people participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) every month. Program participation increased in response to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Isaac in Louisiana and Hurricane Sandy in the New England states. However, overall the program grew at a slower rate and even flattened toward the end of the year. SNAP continues to be the cornerstone of the national hunger safety net by helping those in need put healthy food on the table. Read more »

USDA Promotes Business Development Efforts in Puerto Rico

Earlier this month, USDA Rural Development-Puerto Rico held an Intermediary Relending Program Roundtable meeting for area stakeholders.

Our staff provided a brief overview of the program followed by a very dynamic question and answer session.  The most significant issues discussed were the current barriers to access capital for small businesses and the need to complement their services offerings through common inter-organizational effort.

The main objective of the meeting was to gather all main Intermediary Relending organizations and share their current best practices and current lending challenges.  The meeting also proved to be an excellent opportunity to make services networking, exchange organizational information and identify new funding opportunities. Read more »

USDA Expands Its Housing Refinance Program to 15 More States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to Help Rural Homeowners Lower Mortgage Rates

Rural Development is the lead Federal agency that works to ensure that rural families have access to safe, well-built, affordable homes.  In February 2012, the agency initiated a two-year, pilot refinancing program in 19 states hardest hit by the Nation’s housing downturn to help eligible USDA borrowers reduce their monthly housing costs.

Today, USDA announced that the program is expanding to include eligible rural residents in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Read more »

Feeding Neighbors with Local Traditions

In many parts of the United States, the summer months are a time when food banks and pantries experience a higher demand alongside decreased donations.  As part of this past summer’s Feds Feed Families food drive, USDA employees in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, enthusiastically joined in the effort to help friends and neighbors struggling to put food on the table. The 28 members of the staff at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station include scientists, farmers and gardeners, as well as employees in supportive roles. As part of their research efforts, the USDA Tropical Research Center periodically harvests hundreds of pounds of green bananas at a time from experimental plots. Rather than let this healthy food go to waste, the office donates the bananas to a government-run nursing home in Mayaguez.  There the bananas are used to prepare traditional, local dishes.

Some of the dishes prepared with the donated bananas include pasteles, which are made from ground banana stuffed with meat or chicken, wrapped in a banana leaf and cooked.  Two other delicious dishes are bollitas, or small ground banana balls cooked with pigeon peas and served over rice, and serenata, a dish of boiled green banana served with codfish, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bananas are an excellent source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium, are rich in Vitamins B6 and C, and make a delicious dessert or snack–just make sure to let them ripen first! Read more »