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May 2011

Bellingham Team Scores Big with Double Winners

Cross posted from the Let's Move! blog:

Students at Bellingham (MA) Public Schools found the key to attracting some top individuals to their school for lunch:  they asked a state senator, state representative, a food industry executive, the state Child Nutrition director and me to judge the school’s entries in the national Recipes for Healthy Kids competition.  The school had much to be proud of because their terrific team created not one, but two semi-finalist recipes:  “Tasty Tots” and “Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.”

Connecticut Students Say, “Si, Si” to Fiesta Wrap on the Menu

Cross posted from the Let's Move! blog:

It’s only natural that when the team from Charter Oak International Academy came up with their entry in the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition it would have true international flavor. The West Hartford, CT school is a magnet school with a global focus, including Spanish language instruction. Their “Fiesta Wrap” stars quinoa and black beans accompanied by vegetables, lime juice, spices and reduced fat cheddar cheese with optional toppings such as fresh tomatoes, corn salsa or fiesta sauce.

Four Agribusinesses Receive President’s ‘E’ Awards for Excellence in Exporting

In recognition of World Trade Week 2011, 27 companies and organizations were honored for excellence in exporting at the President’s “E” Awards Ceremony.  This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Presidential “E” Award, which was created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to recognize persons, firms, or organizations that contribute greatly to increasing U.S. exports. Each award recipient demonstrated four or more years of successive export growth, usually accompanied by a rising percentage of export sales within total sales.

Four agriculture companies were among the awardees this year and were recognized in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The companies represent a cross section of U.S. agribusinesses, hailing from Hawaii, Arizona and Florida.

A Green Ride to School

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.

USDA Iowa Rural Development Employee Serving a Second Assignment in Afghanistan

On January 25, 2011, I arrived in Afghanistan to begin a one-year assignment helping Afghans revitalize thier agricultural sector through a variety of activities aimed to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan government, rebuild agricultural markets, and improve management of natural resources. USDA employees like me have worked in Afghanistan since 2003, helping to stabilize the country as it makes strides to become democratic and economically viable nation.

I also served a six-month assignment in Afghanistan during 2004 – 2005, and was drawn back for a second tour for a variety of reasons: the unique nature of the work; complexity of the civilian, military and Afghan participants; intrigue of working in an ongoing conflict environment; and the overall fascination of working with so many interesting people and situations in an historic initiative.

Texas High School Students Encouraged to Pursue Careers in Agriculture

It wasn’t supposed to happen.

There wasn’t supposed to be an agriculture curriculum. There wasn’t supposed to be an instructor. And there definitely wasn’t any money to send seven African-American students from one of the smallest and lowest income towns in Texas to Washington, D.C., to speak with high-level USDA officials.

USDA South Dakota State Director Discusses the Importance of USDA Programs to Native Americans During the National American Indian Council Convention

South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks addressed a crowd of nearly 500 attendees at the 37th Annual National American Indian Council Convention & Trade Show in Phoenix, Arizona last week.   This year’s theme was “Connect to the Past, Commit to the Future.”

Meeks, an Oglala Sioux Tribal Member, highlighted Rural Development’s programs and provided stats on the opportunities provided to American Indian/Alaska Native families on a national scale since the year 2000. She noted that the  Single Family Housing Direct Program has helped over 2,600 Native families become homeowners during that time and that  the USDA Guaranteed program has helped an additional 3,700 families achieve their homeownership dreams.  In addition the USDA Home Repair program has funded home repairs for over 3,000 Native families.

This Recipe Will Make the Competition Green with Envy

Cross posted from the Let's Move! blog.

Dr. Seuss wrote about green eggs and ham but McDougle Elementary School didn’t stick to the script. The Chapel Hill, North Carolina school stirred its way into the semi-finals of the Recipes for Healthy Kids Challenge by adding added nutritious brown rice. They also used chopped spinach to give the dish a vibrant green color.

The Worst U. S. Tornado in 60 Years Hits Joplin, Missouri

The devastation in Joplin is unbelievable, heartbreaking and hard to describe. I have never seen anything like it and hope to never again. The twister tore a path a mile wide and six miles long through the main part of town. It impacted hundreds of businesses and destroyed over 2,000 homes. More than 120 people lost their lives and over 800 people were injured. Scores remain missing or unaccounted for.