Skip to main content

August 2014

Food Bank Partner Sign-up Competition Extended to September 15 with New "Suite" Incentive

Food banks around the country have engaged in a friendly competition all month long to get the most food donors to sign up as participants in the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, with the food bank that signs up the most donors to be honored in an event hosted by the Department of Agriculture.  We are now extending the deadline for the competition to September 15th.

If you are still on the fence, maybe the experience of one of our Challenge partners will convince you.

US Forest Service Asks: How Does Your Marshmallow Roast?

Some wonderful memories are born around a fire ring. But whether you are camping, “glamping” or sitting with friends and family in your backyard, waning evenings typically include one campfire staple: marshmallows.

So, on the eve of National Roasted Marshmallow Day (Aug. 30), we pay tribute to the sweet ingredient that makes any form of outdoor gathering, well, sweeter.

For some, the best use of marshmallows is as the gooey main ingredient of s’mores. Take a graham cracker, place a section of chocolate on it, and then carefully place a freshly roasted marshmallow on top of the candy bar. Top the marshmallow off with another graham cracker, carefully squeezing the campfire dessert sandwich together as the hot marshmallow melts the chocolate.

Ohio Farmers Show Their Commitment to Protecting Lake Erie

In the wake of a water crisis that left 400,000 Toledo, Ohio-area residents without water to drink, bathe or cook, the U.S. Department of Agriculture took action.

USDA created an opportunity for farmers in Ohio’s portion of the Western Lake Erie Basin to apply for a special initiative of Environmental Quality Incentives Program that focuses on cover crops. Farmers had one week to apply for assistance to plant cover crops through this initiative, the deadline for which passed earlier this week.

Back to School, Back to Healthy After-School Snacking

Kids love to snack.  But snacking—if done right—doesn’t have to be a bad thing. There are plenty of tasty and healthy options available that will help satisfy the snack-attack of even the pickiest eaters.

Incorporating fresh fruit, like watermelon, into after-school snacks is a great choice for kids who have a bit of a sweet tooth.  And, as an excellent source of Vitamins A, B6 and C, a two-cup serving of watermelon packs a good nutritional punch that any parent can appreciate.  Watermelon Sandwich Wraps can be a perfect after-school snack.  For more creative ideas on how to serve this healthy treat, take a look at the top ten ways to enjoy watermelon

South Carolina Agriculture – Nothing Could Be Finer

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Agriculture in South Carolina is a long and proud tradition. As the 2012 Census of Agriculture showed us, even today, nearly 5 million acres of our state’s land is dedicated to farming, that’s almost a quarter of all land in South Carolina.

The latest agriculture census also showed that the number of farms in South Carolina has remained steady for the past 15 years at roughly 25,000. The Palmetto State farmers sold more than $3 billion worth of agricultural products. That’s a whopping 29.2 percent increase in sales in just five years. Of these sales, $1.5 billion – nearly half of the total agricultural product sales in South Carolina – came from poultry and egg sales.

Updated Food Purchasing System Keeps USDA on Top of its Game

In today’s busy world of technological advances, it’s important to both evaluate the paths that have already been taken and find ways to improve upon the progress that’s already been made. This spring, we talked about how the Web-Based Supply Chain Management System (WBSCM) streamlined the purchases for five unique agencies. Earlier this month, the system reached another milestone as it went through an update and re-launch that was on time and within budget.

The system—which was used by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and four other agencies to deliver nearly 8.5 billion pounds of domestically-produced foods to programs—is now primed to continue serving hundreds of businesses, states, and program recipients across the country. A multi-agency team of employees worked together on programming, testing, and training, to create an updated system that provides increased flexibility and improved functionality.

Annual Salmon Migration Continues in Steep Creek on Alaska's Tongass National Forest

Since the second week in July, locals and visitors alike have congregated on the viewing platforms above Steep Creek near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in Juneau, Alaska to enjoy the sockeye salmon migration.

From mid-July through the end of August, the sockeye salmon enter the creek to dig redds (nests), find mates and spawn. For thousands of viewers this annual show is seen not in person but on the screens of their computers or smart phones, thanks to the Steep Creek salmon cam.

Ensuring Healthy Meals during the Summer Helps Kids Head Back to Class Ready to Learn

Children who live in the Franklin Vista Apartments in Anthony, N.M., didn’t have to walk far to receive a healthy breakfast and lunch this summer, thanks to Gadsden ISD Food Service Director Demetrious Giovas.  He made sure children there were able to gather under the covered porch of the apartment community center for a nutritious meal.  The school district set up tables each day to ensure the kids had access to healthy food while school was out of session.

For the first time, Gadsden ISD provided daily breakfasts and lunches to children at apartments through the Seamless Summer Option of the National School Lunch Program. Food was prepared at the local elementary school, where it was distributed to 14 sites including Franklin Vista Apartments, as well as churches, other community-based facilities and schools.  Throughout the summer, sites sponsored by the school district provided an average of 2,000 lunches and 1,900 breakfasts each weekday.

Have Fun Outside This Weekend - But Keep the Ticks Off

Many people are squeezing in the last bit of summer by enjoying the outdoors through walks, hiking on trails, biking, camping, outdoor sports, and picnics in parks and forests.  Unfortunately, these activities – sometimes even in our own backyards – increase our risk of being exposed to ticks and the diseases they carry.

Ticks are a nuisance.  No one wants anything on their body that drinks their blood or – worse than that – also give you a disease.  Most people are familiar with Lyme disease, but not the many other equally serious diseases that ticks carry. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now lists 14 diseases that ticks in the United States can transmit and cause human disease.  The CDC website also has regional distribution maps with pictures of the ticks that carry these diseases and where in the nation they are most like to be.

USDA, Department of Defense, Celebrate the Bounty of Farmers Market

Earlier this month, USDA celebrated National Farmers Market Week to highlight the healthy offerings they provide American families.  The department invests in farmers markets in a myriad of ways – from helping farmers develop their products for markets, to enriching children’s bodies and minds through the “farm to school” program.  In fact, there are more than 8,000 farmers markets listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, and more than 5,000 farm stands and farmers markets across the nation are accepting SNAP benefits.

During the month, I had a chance to speak with Lt. Col. Eric Smith, commander of Fort Meade’s (Md.) Headquarters Command Battalion.  We discussed USDA’s partnership with the Department of Defense and supporting the Healthy Base Initiative through FNS programs.  DoD’s Healthy Base Initiative works to improve the health and wellness of service members and their families by reducing obesity and decreasing tobacco use. Currently, 14 military installations participate in a pilot to create an environment that promotes healthy lifestyles. Fort Meade is one of them.