American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine presents NRCS Chief Jason Weller (right) with a thank you card with more than 1,300 signatures. NRCS photo.
As a part of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the most rewarding part of my job is seeing and hearing about the impact our work is having on the communities we serve.
Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting with American Farmland Trust President Andrew McElwaine. He presented me with a card signed by more than 1,300 people thanking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and NRCS for the successful launch of the newest Farm Bill conservation program – the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP. Read more »
Every day, millions of students are able to enjoy a nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunch thanks to the National School Lunch Program. Everyday they’re in school, that is. But what happens to these children when school lets out during the summer? That’s when vital programs offered by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service come into play. The summer meals program defends against hunger – ensuring that millions of the most vulnerable Americans have the energy they need to perform at work and school by receiving a healthy meal or snack when school meals are not available. Those meals are served at a variety of community centers throughout the country.
In the summer of 2014, USDA set a goal of serving 10 more million meals than in the summer of 2013 through the two programs that comprise USDA’s summer meal programs: USDA’s Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program’s Seamless Summer Option. With the help of partners, elected officials, and community leaders across the country, the goal was exceeded. We now want to build on that momentum. We’ve set new goals and need your help. Read more »
A new study published in Childhood Obesity has again confirmed that students are consuming healthier food at school as a result of the updated meal standards. The study further demonstrates that, contrary to anecdotal reports, the new standards are not contributing to an increase in plate waste. The study was conducted by researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut, the University of California Berkeley, and Yale University.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today released the following statement on the report’s findings: Read more »
A healthy breakfast is a critical school supply. Just as you would never expect a student to excel without access to their textbooks, we can’t expect them to excel without the daily fuel they need for their brains and bodies.
Good nutrition is just as important to a child’s future as a quality education—maybe even more so. We can’t expect kids to learn, excel and achieve if they aren’t properly nourished from day one. Share Our Strength’s new report, Hunger in Our Schools, illustrates how the healthier school breakfasts and lunches are working to address the twin crises of childhood hunger and obesity, particularly for low-income children. Healthy meals set up our kids for success, and school meals are a critical and effective part of that.
–Secretary Tom Vilsack
As a nation, we spend a lot of time, effort and money on ways to better educate our children. In recent years, there have been fierce debates on No Child Left Behind, Common Core, teacher qualifications, textbook standards and more. These battles ignore one key factor, however: If our children are too hungry to learn, their success is doomed before we’ve even begun.
Working with the research firm SalterMitchell, No Kid Hungry recently completed a new national survey of 1,000+ educators across the nation as well as a series of focus group interviews with dozens of teachers and principals. The new report, “Hunger In Our Schools,” underscores the fact that hunger hampers a child’s ability to learn, but school breakfast offers a chance to solve this problem for millions of children. Read more »
The recently installed solar panels on the roof of Ideal Dairy in Richfield, Utah save them around $400 per month in utility costs on average.
Last month, Secretary Vilsack announced the opening of the new application cycle for our Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). In addition to the announcement, RBS conducted a national REAP stakeholder forum which discussed program changes and provided examples of successful projects from previous years.
For example, Ideal Dairy restaurant of Richfield, Utah used a REAP grant to leverage a loan from Zions Bank and install an array of solar panels on the roof of its retail location. The addition has saved an average of $400 a month in electricity expenditures for owners Kristi and Gary Sorenson. A larger scale solar project in Guayanila, Puerto Rico allowed a major employer – Master Paints and Chemicals Corporation – to completely offset its $180,000 annual energy expenses and give it independence from fossil fuel-based energy. Read more »
As a school kid during the first years of desegregation in the public schools of Austin, Texas, much of my experience of the world around me was shaped by color. I saw and experienced firsthand how discrimination and inequality can stunt and hold back too many Americans–not only through violence, but the more subtle, life-altering trauma of discrimination.
I’ve also seen how inclusion and understanding have the power to lift up individuals and communities and help them heal. Read more »