Lunch directors and school kids are giving USDA’s frozen broccoli the thumbs up, and we couldn’t be more pleased. Kathy Russell, School Food Service Director with Santa Gertrudis Independent School District located in Kingsville, Texas, praised the recent improvements in the USDA Foods.
St. Patrick’s Day might be over, but at USDA we’re still sporting our green. That’s because of the success of one food in particular—a vegetable underdog: broccoli! As one of the newest additions to the USDA Foods lineup, AMS purchased 6.87 million pounds (nearly $7.6 million) of broccoli during FY 2013, and FY 2014 purchasing has been even more robust.
Each year, the AMS Commodity Procurement Staff (AMS-CP) spends nearly $2 billion on 2 billion pounds of frozen, processed, and fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish and eggs, otherwise known as USDA Foods. The AMS-CP mission is to support American agriculture and promote domestic production by purchasing commodities, while meeting the needs of federal food assistance programs across the country. Read more »
Adam McCurry, Agricultural Technician for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Yancey County conducts a lesson about local apple varieties before taking students outside to plant an apple tree at Bald Creek Elementary School in Burnsville, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Asheville, North Carolina)
Kids are headed back to school and so are county Extension agents.
As schools continue to teach kids where their food comes from and bring local and regional products into the school cafeteria, one group they may want to partner with on their farm to school activities is their local or regional Cooperative Extension office. Cooperative Extension Systems are administered by each state’s Land-Grant University System. Programs are available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and most states have local or regional Extension offices that are staffed by one or more experts, often referred to as Extension agents or Extension educators.
Nationally, more and more Cooperative Extension Systems are devoting key resources to supporting farm to school activities. Of the 68 fiscal year 2013 USDA Farm to School Grants distributed, 25 percent included partners from Cooperative Extension. State Extension Systems such as Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois have already dedicated resources and personnel to leading their states farm to school programs. And at the upcoming national Extension conference, farm to school and local foods are sure to be a major themes discussed. Read more »
Scott Kravetz participates in the Bird Health Awareness Week webinar. USDA photo.
As part of Bird Health Awareness Week, USDA recently hosted a webinar on “Growing Chicks into Healthy Chickens.” Dr. Martin Smeltzer, Andy Schneider (aka the “Chicken Whisperer”) and Dr. Claudia Dunkley spent an hour helping backyard bird owners learn more about keeping their flocks healthy. Around 300 people participated in the webinar, most of who are just getting started with backyard birds. Read more »
A youngster enjoys a crisp apple for lunch at the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development’s Mi Escuelita summer food program site in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. More than 75 kids enjoy physical activities such as soccer and basketball followed by a free healthy lunch each day during summer thanks to the USDA Summer Food Service Program.
Children need good nutrition all year long. When school is out during the summer months, many children no longer have access to even one nutritious meal each day. Research shows a lack of nutrition during the summer months may set up a cycle for poor performance once school begins. We must do all we can to ensure that children get nutritious food during the summer months so that they are ready to learn during the school year. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is intended to feed kids during these “meal gap” periods. Read more »
The feedback about last year’s webinar series was overwhelmingly positive! That’s why USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative is bringing it back.
We’re asked all the time for a specific recipe for starting and sustaining a People’s Garden. And each of this year’s webinars focus on ingredients that can be mixed into any garden project to make it healthier: processing and storing seeds, engaging volunteers, growing native plants, composting, and school garden best practices.
The series of five hour-long trainings will broadcast live on Thurs. Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 and Wed. Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. They are free for anyone to watch live online. Register at http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/2012webinars/ to participate. Read more »
Webinars and Teleconferences are not the raw materials that Tribes use to build the infrastructure that they need. However, at USDA Rural Development we believe that these tools are crucial building blocks that help our Agencies and staff build a foundation for consultation, cooperation and mutual understanding with Federally Recognized Tribes.
Over the last few months, Rural Development co-hosted an Indian Housing Webinar Discussion Series with the National American Indian Housing Council. The goals of that series were clear and simple: 1) Educate USDA Rural Development personnel on the unique issues in providing affordable housing in Indian Country; 2) Educate Tribes and Tribal housing program staff on USDA Rural Development’s programs and services; and, 3) Examine and discuss strategies to improve the partnership between Tribal housing programs and USDA Rural Development. The final webinar was hosted on November 7th and in preparation for the National American Indian Housing Council’s Legal Symposium in December 2012, we are putting together a joint white paper on the Webinar Series and recommendations to consider moving forward. Read more »