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Philly Market Rises Up to Meet Hunger Challenge

Did you know that nearly one-third of the food available to U.S. retailers and consumers never makes it to the dining room table?  That’s 133 billion pounds of food going to waste--all of which has far-reaching impacts on food security, resource conservation, and climate change.  Experts have projected that reducing food waste by just 15 percent would provide the equivalent of enough food for more than 25 million Americans every year.

That’s why my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), decided to help tackle the problem by sponsoring the Terminal Market Food Waste Challenge.  Produce markets across the U.S. joined the friendly 90-day competition by making sure that usable fruits and vegetables were not thrown away.  While these fresh foods weren’t picture-perfect supermarket quality or simply didn’t sell, they were healthy, wholesome foods that could be made into juices, added to animal feeds, used for compost, or donated to charity.

Greater Economic Opportunities for Rural Communities

Last week as I walked around the Iowa State Fair, I was reminded about the power of philanthropy.  The Iowa State Fair’s Blue Ribbon Foundation has raised more than $80 million since its inception in 1993 and helped make numerous facilities improvements all around the fairgrounds including: a new exhibition center, a remodeled food center and an animal-learning center.

Secretary's Column: Expanding Investments in Rural America

President Obama and I have worked hard to build thriving, sustainable economies communities in rural America.  This is essential to the strength of our nation, but government cannot do it alone in these tough economic times.

Outside funders and partnerships must place a central role both in leveraging federal investments and filling in funding gaps to move projects off the drawing board and give them life.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Urges Philanthropists to “Step Up and Take Risks”

One of the great things about being Secretary of Agriculture is that I get to see first-hand how truly vast our great nation is.  It’s been my privilege to represent USDA and President Obama from Alaska to Florida and from North Dakota to New Mexico.  Of course, I also spend quite a bit of time in the Midwest.  The scope of rural America is truly awesome, and so are the challenges we face as we work to create jobs and improve the quality of rural life.

Earlier this week, I delivered the keynote address at the Council on Foundations Rural Philanthropy Conference in Kansas City, and I urged those in attendance to work hand-in-hand with us, our counterparts in state and local government, faith based organizations and non-profits to bring substantial, sustainable improvement to rural living conditions in small, rural communities across the country.

USDA Rural Development in Puerto Rico Kicks-off A Campaign to Raise Funds for Charities

Earlier this month, José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico held a kick-off campaign activity in the Puerto Rico State Office. The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the only authorized solicitation of Federal employees in their workplaces on behalf of approved charitable organizations.