Bartenfelder Farms at Baltimore’s Farmers Market and Bazaar in Baltimore, MD. Vendors now accept Baltimore Farmers Market and Bazaar tokens, thanks to the new wireless connected electronic card reader that accepts the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Service’s (FNS) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, Baltimore Bucks, and debit cards. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
What Agriculture Under Secretary Concannon calls a win-win situation, is taking root in rural Alabama with help from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and state officials. Local farmers’ markets are getting authorized to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards which will allow them to expand their customer base and offer Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants healthy and local produce.
With federal grant money provided to states through September 30, 2013, eligible farmers’ markets and now direct marketing farmers are receiving free wireless point-of-sale (POS) devices. As part of the Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) StrikeForce efforts to reach out to communities in persistent poverty stricken areas, its Southeast Regional Office recently offered three farmers’ market sign-up days in Madison, Selma, and Robertsdale, Alabama. Read more »
Farmers markets are a perfect venue for teaching children about the food they eat. Initiatives across the country, like this People’s Garden event at the USDA Farmers Market, encourage the development of healthy eating habits at an early age.
“We become what we repeatedly do.” In his Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens Sean Covey used these words to help young students preparing to attend college and join the workforce, but they also apply to how children learn to eat healthy.
Through innovative programs like the Power of Produce (POP) Club, farmers markets across the country are teaching children how to make healthy eating choices. This program, started at the Oregon City Farmers Market, invites children to learn more about some of their favorite foods. Participating in events like planting sunflower seeds or making jam gives the youngsters a chance to better understand where their food comes from. By receiving $2 to spend on fresh produce every time they visit the market to keeping a log of what they buy, the children become immersed in a world of healthy eating. Last year, 1,781 children aged 5 to 12 years old joined, resulting in 5,180 shopping trips. Read more »
Farm to school programs are mutually beneficial – kids get fresh fruits and vegetables and farmers build a new customer base.
“Our farm to school program helps our district offer more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis,” said Julie Hamilton, school food service director of operations/training for Lamar County Schools in Purvis, Miss. “Being exposed to more choices, the young students will learn to like them and make healthier food choices over their lifetimes.”
Offering more fruits and vegetables to students is part of the new requirements recently passed by Congress to improve nutrition in the nation’s schools. Utilizing a farm to school approach – where locally sourced products are featured in the school cafeteria – is an effective way to make it easier to meet these new standards and help the students at the same time. Read more »
Hatch green chiles can be used in everything from potato salad to lemonade.
It’s no secret I love New Mexican grown green chiles. So does Melissa’s World Variety Produce in Los Angeles, California. So much so, that during a recent trip to California, I attended a spicy workshop and reception hosted by Melissa’s, featuring New Mexican Hatch green chiles.
“When I grew up, I thought there was only one kind of chile: we just called them green.” says corporate chef Rodriguez who grew up in El Paso, Texas.
Southwesterners like Ida and I may just call them “greens”. However, the rest of the country is quickly getting to know these meaty, flavorful Hatch green chiles, named after Hatch, New Mexico, epicenter of state’s chile growing region. Read more »
Our children are our most prized possessions and we must do whatever it takes to help them excel in the future. Leading them on the path to becoming part of a healthier generation, USDA revised the standards for meals and snacks served in their schools. Recently, I had the pleasure of traveling to a New York City high school to see first-hand how students were adjusting to the new standards.
The changes to the meal and snack standards are in response to the passing of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Implemented in the 2012 school year, the new meal standards made several changes. Now, the 32 million students participating in the National School Lunch Program can enjoy more fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grain foods and leaner proteins. The new smart snack standards, which will be implemented July 1, 2014, set minimum requirements for snacks sold in vending machines or as part of a la carte meals sold on campus during school hours. Read more »
Here is a poster from the Dig In! curriculum that educators can post in the class room to encourage healthy eating.
Research shows that students with healthful eating patterns tend to do better in school, and it’s important that children begin learning about food and nutrition when they’re young. In support of that goal, the Food and Nutrition Service recently released three free sets of curriculum educators can use to empower children to make healthful food choices and develop an awareness of how fruits and vegetables are grown.
The Great Garden Detective Adventure curriculum for 3rd and 4th grades includes 11 lessons, bulletin board materials, veggie dice, fruit and vegetable flash cards, and ten issues of Garden Detective News for parents/caregivers. Kids will discover what fruits and vegetables are sweetest, crunchiest, and juiciest through investigations and fun experiences connecting the school garden to the classroom, school cafeteria and home. Read more »