Ensuring the health and well-being of our nation’s children is a top priority for President Obama, and for all of us at USDA. We have focused in recent years on expanding access, affordability and availability of healthy foods for families and children.
Recently, we learned of some promising new results in the fight against obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the rate of obesity among young, low-income children appears to be declining. In 19 states, the obesity rate among low-income preschoolers has dropped for the first time in decades – and in many other states the obesity rate has leveled off. Read more »
New Jersey farmer Liang Shao Hua listens to NRCS technical advisor Frank Wu provide advice in Chinese Mandarin, Liang’s native language. His limited English proficiency restricted his exposure to USDA farm programs until Tropical Storm Sandy made it necessary for Liang to connect with the department for assistance. He is now an FSA loan recipient and appreciates the cost-share benefits of the Emergency Conservation Program funds that assisted his family’s clean-up efforts.
Disasters create pain. And recovery from disasters creates partnerships and opportunity.
That is the lesson Liang Shao Hua learned in the past year after Tropical Storm Sandy, also known as Super Storm Sandy, destroyed his New Jersey high-tunnel farming operation and left him wondering how to manage his loss.
Liang, a Chinese American with very limited English proficiency, relied first on his American-born son, Peter, a 21-year-old college student studying at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York. Peter obtained USDA paperwork from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) that helped his father apply for Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funds. He, his brother, David, 19, and mother, Pei Yin, joined Liang in the clean-up efforts.
Liang Shao Hua was among 315 successful applicants for ECP, one-third from New Jersey. The applicants stretched from West Virginia to New Hampshire. That was the wide swath where Sandy and her trailing cold front left a path of destruction to Atlantic Coast and New England farms. Read more »
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 »