Skip to main content

December 2010

USDA Helps Americans Every Day, Every Way—and at Christmastime, Too.

Secretary Vilsack likes to say that because of the scope of its programs, USDA serves Americans every day, every way.

A recent experience from a Midwest feeding partner, Milwaukee Hunger Task Force, demonstrates the immense—and also incredibly personal—reach of USDA programs, the importance of our partners, and the positive effect our programs have on so many Americans, including the elderly.

Announcing This Year's Distinguished Plenary Panel

USDA’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, Today’s Strategies & Tomorrow’s Opportunities, will be held February 24-25, 2011, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Virginia.

Secretary Tom Vilsack will deliver the Keynote Address.  The Distinguished Plenary Panel will be moderated by Christine Cochran, President of the Commodity Markets Council, and focus on the economy, managing risk, and broadband in rural communities.  The four panelists and their topics include:  Nariman Behravesh, the Chief Economist, IHS Global Insight, speaking on “The Global Economy;” Charles Whitman, the Founder and CEO of Infinium Capital Management, speaking on “Managing Risk and Electronic Trading;” Pete Nessler, President of FCStone LLC, speaking on “Managing Risk in a Complex World;” and Michael Copps, Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, speaking on “Broadband in Rural Communities.”

Harvest Time Leads to Delicious Meal at Dallas Elementary School

On a cool mid November morning in Dallas, first graders at Stonewall Jackson Elementary rushed through their 20,000 square foot garden to harvest the vegetables they’ve been monitoring with anticipation.  On this day, they were getting a chance to taste their bounty, along with prominent local Chef John Tesar and USDA Food and Nutrition Service staff.

Regional Collaboration Uses Local Food Systems to Expand Rural-Urban Partnership

A regional initiative in Southwest Iowa originally intended to train farmers on local-food production has evolved into a rural-urban partnership that touches a poverty-stricken community.  I joined USDA Rural Development Acting Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien in Oakland, Iowa, recently to meet with officials from the Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) council.

Golden Hills was one of seven “Great Regions” designed by Rural Development earlier this year for its plan to, among other things, provide business and management skills training for up to 15 farm-based businesses.

USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone Wrap-Up

The USDA’s Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) concluded its 2010 tour season on November 13, 2010 at the National Science Teachers Association Area Conference, in Baltimore, MD.  “How can I get this to my school and how much does it cost?” was the main question asked by the 2,617 educators who visited the FSDZ during the conference.

Researchers Study How Parenting Styles Influence Children’s Eating Habits

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA's rich science and research portfolio

If there is one thing you can count on during the holidays, it is food – and in large quantities! While you may not be able to avoid the endless stream of Christmas treats, our eating habits the rest of the year are really important. Especially those we teach our children.

USDA Rural Development Loan Guarantee Helps Business Maintain Equal Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities

For the last 32 years, Minnesota Diversified Industries (MDI), a non-profit social enterprise, has been dedicated to providing job opportunities for people with disabilities.  Founded in 1964 by John DuRand as an Occupational Training Center, MDI transitioned into an Affirmative Business in 1978.  Company leaders wanted to provide people, specifically people with disabilities, equal opportunity employment.

MDI is an AbilityOne program through which government products and services are set aside for people with disabilities.  With locations in St. Paul, Grand Rapids, and Hibbing, MDI currently employs 131 people, 70 of which are people with disabilities.

Playground Brings Smiles to Afghan Orphans

Last week, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team visited the Ghazni City orphanage to dedicate playground equipment donated by the family and friends of Steven “Tom” Stefani. Stefani was a U.S. Forest Service employee who went to Afghanistan in March 2007 to work as a USDA agricultural expert to a provincial reconstruction team in the Ghazni. His life was cut short by a roadside explosion Oct. 4 of that same year.

Time is Ticking! Final Days to Submit Your Favorite Recipe

Cross-posted from the Let's Move! Blog:

As schools across the country entered the holiday break, we sent out a friendly reminder that the Recipes for Healthy Kids Competition is coming to a close December 30 at 5:00 p.m.  But it is not too late for teams across the country to get their winning recipes in and make a difference in the lives of millions of kids.