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21st Century Conservation Service Corps Partnerships Continue to Grow

To date, 100 organizations have joined the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, a bold partnership of key federal – including the U.S. Forest Service – state, local and nonprofit leaders and stakeholders that provide young people, veterans and other under-represented communities an opportunity to engage in public land and water restoration and conservation.

These organizations represent a broad spectrum of diversity, representing all regions in the country. Among the organizations that recently joined are the Earth Conservation Corps, Washington, D.C.; Milwaukee Community Service Corps, Milwaukee, Wis.; Environment for the Americas, Boulder, Colo.; and Siskiyou Mountain Club, Ashland, Ore.

From Small Potatoes to 36,000 Pounds of Carrots: Farm to School Grows

In the past few years I’ve seen an increasing number of news stories about successful farm to school programs. As reflected in the first USDA Farm to School Census, farm to school programs are thriving from Alaska to Florida and in every state between.

I attended a recent event that demonstrates just how quickly—and by what lengths—farm to school is growing. On January 15th, students in all Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were served sliced carrots grown at a farm only 90 miles away in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Self-Service Center Improves Latino Access to SNAP

Here at USDA, we’re always looking for great ideas and best practices that improve access to our programs. Access to USDA’s SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) by Hispanics/Latinos is a special concern because our data show that many low-income Latinos simply don’t apply for SNAP even though they’re eligible. Language and cultural differences, confusion and fear about immigration status of family members are very real roadblocks for many Latinos. That’s why we’re encouraged by a new and exciting social services model in Milwaukee – the Robles Center - that is reducing those barriers and empowering Latino customers. Recently I talked with Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force (HTF) in Milwaukee, to learn more.

Wisconsin Business Excels in the Asian Market with Help from USDA’s Market Access Program

With assistance from USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and working with Food Export-Midwest, a Milwaukee-based company has expanded its access to the Asian market for its brand of specialty cookies. Nikki’s Cookies & Confections has been baking a full line of shortbreads, chocolate layered cookies and holiday specialty products for 25 years. The company’s export success was recently recognized in the National Export Strategy Report, an annual update on the National Export Initiative progress. Under this initiative President Obama set a goal of doubling overall U.S. exports by the end of 2014.

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.