Tag Archives: USDA

Gaming to teach nutrition

At the USDA blog, Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra in the posting “Seeking Game-Changing Solutions to Childhood Obesity” writes that the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture hosted a workshop to gather insight from leading experts in the fields of gaming and technology to inform the development of a nutrition game-design challenge. For my money, there’s nothing better than Pajama Sam and “You are what you eat from your head to your feet.” What could be better?


Merrigan speaks at EcoFarm Conference

In the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition newsletter, they note that USDA Deputy Secretary Merrigan addressed the crowd at the Ecological Farming Association’s 30th Anniversary EcoFarm Conference. Merrigan was talking to a crowd of seasoned organic pioneers in California as well as the current and next generations of organic and sustainable farmers.

In her address, Merrigan highlighted USDA activities that aim to create a future for farmers in America, including programs to re-establish local and regional food systems.  She described a recent visit to a mobile slaughterhouse and the challenges in re-establishing the infrastructure to meet the market demands for local and regional food systems, and the opportunities in those food systems for new farmers to make a living off of the land.

Hagen Named USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety

Dr. Elisabeth Hagen has been nominated as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Under Secretary for Food Safety. Hagen will serve with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“There is no more fundamental function of government than protecting consumers from harm, which is why food safety is one of USDA’s top priorities,” said Vilsack. “We can and must do a better job of ensuring the safety of meat and poultry products regulated by USDA, and Dr. Hagen brings the background, skills, and vision to lead USDA’s efforts to make sure that Americans have access to a safe and healthy food supply.”

Dr. Elisabeth Hagen is currently the USDA’s Chief Medical Officer, serving as an advisor to USDA mission areas on a wide range of human health issues. Prior to her current post, she was a senior executive at FSIS, where she played a key role in developing and executing the agency’s scientific and public health agendas. She has been instrumental in building relationships and fostering coordination with food safety and public health partners at the federal, state, and local level.

Before joining the federal government in 2006, Hagen taught and practiced medicine in both the private and academic sectors, most recently in Washington, DC. She holds an M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and a B.S. from Saint Joseph’s University. Dr. Hagen completed her specialty medical training at the University of Texas Southwestern and the University of Pennsylvania, and is board certified in infectious disease. She is married and lives with her husband and two young children in Northern Virginia.

USDA Secretary reports on 2009 accomplishments

President Obama’s Cabinet are sharing the accomplishments from 2009, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack offers a report on plans to make life better for Americans in the year ahead. Just click on this link. You’ll see a photo of the President with his cabinet. Vilsack is the tall guy on the left. You can mouseover to get the name of a cabinet member. Then just click on Vilsack to hear his 40 second report.

Vilsack Announces Grants to Help Schools Improve the Quality of Meals

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $25 million in grants to help schools operating a National School Lunch Program (NSLP) replace outdated equipment with new, energy efficient, appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, and other food service related equipment. The new funding which provides $815,762 in the state of North Carolina is a one-time fiscal year 2010 appropriation to State educational agencies.

“President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that America’s children have access to safe and nutritious food through our National School Lunch Program,” said Vilsack. “These grants will help schools obtain much needed infrastructure to better serve their students and will focus on equipment that helps schools provide nutritious meals, support food safety efforts, improve energy efficiency, and expand participation in school nutrition programs.”

As mandated by the legislation, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will award these grants to school food authorities that participate in the NSLP and that did not receive an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 grant for NSLP equipment assistance in FY 2009. Additionally, priority will be given to schools where 50 percent or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced price meals under the NSLP.

Congress is currently considering reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which provides the outline for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs that serve more than 31 million children. Administration priorities include eliminating barriers that keep children from participating in school nutrition programs, improving the quality of school meals and the health of the school environment, and enhancing program performance.

USDA Hosting State Jobs Roundtables

USDA has begun a series of roundtables and community forums on job creation and economic growth in states throughout the country. The roundtables follow the Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth that President Obama hosted at the White House on December 3.The roundtables will be hosted by USDA Rural Development state directors and Farm Service Agency state executive directors. Participants will include business owners, community members, state and local officials, union members, non-profit organizations, economists and other interested parties. Participants will discuss on steps that can to be taken to grow the economy and put Americans back to work. Some of the roundtables may be regional in order to focus on shared interests, economic conditions and cooperative solutions.

The primary focus will be on ideas to accelerate job growth in rural America. Some of the topics to be discussed are:

  • Exploring ways to rejuvenate and promote local businesses
  • Creating jobs by rebuilding America’s infrastructure
  • Creating new opportunities from existing ones, such as with value-added agricultural products
  • Supporting job growth among small businesses
  • Preparing workers for 21st century jobs

Jobs forums that are scheduled in January include:

  • Hawaii: Jan. 4, 5
  • North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota: Jan. 6
  • Iowa, Missouri and Illinois: Jan. 8
  • Nebraska: Jan. 8
  • Tennessee: Jan. 14
  • Kansas: Jan. 21
  • Puerto Rico: Jan. 22
  • Vermont: Feb. 3
  • New Hampshire: Feb. 4

Additional forums will be scheduled in the weeks ahead. Check thier website for more information, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateJobRoundtableList.htm

Farmers Markets nearly double during decade

The number of farmers markets operating in the US has nearly doubled since 2000. Check out this USDA graph.