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Safeguarding the Food Supply and Protecting Human Health

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

What began as a program to ensure the safe production of a diverse food supply is now providing a value-added application of its core expertise: protecting honeybees from parasites and people from vector-borne diseases.

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funds the IR-4 Program (“Inter-Regional Project #4”), which was established more than 50 years ago and is headquartered at Rutgers University. The IR-4 funds laboratories that test pesticides intended to protect specialty crops. That testing generates data that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires for pesticide registration. Without the help of IR-4, the cost of the research required for pesticide registration for specialty crops would be prohibitive.

How MyPlate Inspired One California Student to Make a Difference on her College Campus

We love hearing success stories from our MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors! Over 3,450 students, representing all 50 states, have signed on to take part in the MyPlate On Campus initiative, USDA’s effort to promote healthy eating on college campuses nationwide through peer-to-peer education. Read below about how one group of passionate students is helping to spread the MyPlate message. Also, be sure to check out what MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors have been up to at Rutgers University and University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Guest post by Sitoya Mansell, MPH, CHES President, Residential Nutrition Wellness Program, and Gena Alltizer, President, CSUSB Nutrition Student Association

After becoming a MyPlate On Campus Ambassador in 2013, California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) student and Nutrition and Food Sciences major Sitoya Mansell was inspired to create a nutrition program for students on her campus.  Coming to college is a major transition for many students, and Sitoya saw the need to guide students in making healthy choices in their newly independent lives.  With the assistance of the DPD Director of Nutrition and Food Sciences and the Office of Residential Living, a nutrition education program called the Residential Nutrition Wellness Program (RNWP) was created for students living in campus housing and dormitories.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month with MyPlate at School!

In honor of National Nutrition Month®, MyPlate is sharing resources to help you bite into a healthy lifestyle everywhere you go! This blog highlights resources for encouraging a healthy lifestyle in the classroom. Learn about healthy eating at home, work, and throughout the community here.

MyPlate can be used to teach students of all ages about healthy eating. Start early and introduce preschoolers to fruits and vegetables through garden-themed nutrition education using the Grow It, Try It, Like It! Nutrition Education Kit. Elementary school teachers can integrate nutrition education into other subjects including Math, Science, English Language Arts, and Health with Serving Up MyPlate: A Yummy Curriculum.

MyPlate On Rutgers Campus

The MyPlate On Campus initiative, USDA’s effort to promote healthy eating on college campuses nationwide through peer-to-peer education, launched 1 year ago. In that time, nearly 2,000 students, representing all 50 states, have joined the cause by becoming MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors. It has been exciting to watch it grow and see the creative ways that students are bringing nutrition education to life on their campus. Read below about how one group of passionate students is helping to spread the MyPlate message:

By Rebecca Tonnessen and Alex Essenfeld, MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors at Rutgers University, New Jersey

As nutrition students at Rutgers University, we are all excited and passionate about being MyPlate On Campus Ambassadors. Working with dining services and the nutrition department in a joint effort to educate our peers, the RU Healthy Dining team strives to educate the Rutgers community through nutritional booths, newsletters, and outreach programs. As MyPlate Ambassadors and nutrition leaders, we integrate MyPlate into our activities. Our newsletters incorporate MyPlate tips and are distributed to our student body in the dining halls.

Stop Stink Bug Project

Calling all insect enthusiasts and frustrated gardeners!  USDA scientists need your help in documenting Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs (BMSB) in your home. Beginning September 15th through October 15th, we’re asking citizens across the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States to record daily counts of this pest on the exterior of their homes, along with their location and the time of each count. While USDA scientists are focusing on the Mid-Atlantic region, any data they can get from other U.S. regions would also be helpful to their research.

The quest to find out just how many stink bugs there are, and how they behave, is the brainchild of a consortium of researchers from USDA, the University of Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, Virginia Tech, the Northeastern IPM Center, Oregon State University, North Carolina State University, Cornell University, the University of Delaware and Washington State University. This project is represented on the website, “Stop BMSB (,” which was launched in 2011.

El Yunque National Forest: U.S. Forest Service Works to Address Urban Expansion

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 USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico is unique for the U.S. Forest Service. At 28,000 acres, it’s the smallest national forest and the only tropical rain forest managed by the Forest Service, boasting the greatest biodiversity among national forests.

Apply Within: Matching Grants to Boost State Research Efforts

In 2010, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture developed a plan to help local growers find new opportunities to bring their fresh, healthy food to consumers and markets within the state.  They partnered with Rutgers University’s Food Innovation Center and the New Jersey Department of Family and Community Health Sciences to create healthy recipes from locally grown ingredients that were also tasty and affordable options for school menus.

Deputy Secretary Merrigan Joins Rep. Holt and NJ Farmers on Capitol Hill

Today Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan joined New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt and dozens of farmers from across central New Jersey as part of the Congressman’s Agriculture and Nutrition Policy Day.  The Deputy Secretary spoke to a diverse group of farmers about USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative and the Department’s newest efforts to promote farm to school programs across the country.  After an informative presentation from the OneTray foundation, Congressman Holt kicked off the day’s activities with an enthusiastic welcome, acknowledging the real stars of the show, the men and women in the audience who work the land every day.

USDA Hosts Jobs and Economic Growth Forum in New Jersey

USDA’s Rural Development and Farm Service Agency hosted a Jobs and Economic Growth Forum on January 5, 2010 at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Bordentown, NJ.   USDA was asked to lead the effort to listen to community leaders, non-profit organizations, business owners, economists, federal, state and local officials on how to stimulate job creation in New Jersey.  This Forum followed the lead of President Obama’s December 3, 2009 Roundtable discussion.