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United We Serve

Martin Luther King Day-A Day of Service

In a 1957 sermon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., challenged the congregation, asking:  “Life's most persistent and urgent question is:  'What are you doing for others?’ ”

Throughout his lifetime, Dr. King was passionately committed to community and service. On January 21st, USDA Rural Development is proud to join with Americans from all walks of life to honor Dr. King’s legacy through a National Day of Service. The Day of Service — a “day on, not a day off” — is part of United We Serve, President Obama's national call to service initiative.

At USDA Rural Development, “doing for others” is one of our core rural values, and we encourage everyone in our organization to practice Dr. King’s principals of community, volunteerism and service not just on the Day of Service but throughout the year. In Tennessee, the “Volunteer State,” USDA Rural Development employees in the State Office in Nashville helped the hungry over the past year by donating more than 3,800 pounds of food through the USDA Feds Feed Families food drive to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. State Office employees also helped the food bank, which provides food to about 600,000 people across 46 counties each year, to sort food items for easier distribution.

Secretary Vilsack Honors Employees for Exemplary Service

Around the world, USDA employees continue their commitment to public service as a testament to Abraham Lincoln’s nickname as the “People’s Department.” Yesterday Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted the 62nd Annual Secretary’s Honors Awards, celebrating employees who went above and beyond the call of duty in support of the Department’s mission.

The USDA and Department of Energy Team Up to Fight Hunger

By Stacy Porto, Special Assistant

Federal employees from across the country are coming together to do what the USDA does every day – increase food security and reduce hunger by providing low-income people access to food.

Inspired by President Obama’s United We Serve Act, the Feds, Farmers, and Friends Feed Families food drive began as a response to serve in your own community. USDA is leading the effort and Secretary Vilsack reminded us that while the needs of those who are hungry are great, “our opportunity to make a difference in their lives is also great.”   No one should go hungry, and no one should be without access to healthy, nutritious foods.

USDA and the Corporation for National and Community Service mark Thanksgiving With a Call to Service

This week, as families across America prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Obama Administration is asking Americans to think about their neighbors who are struggling to put food on the table. Although we are the richest nation in the world, the food security report released last Monday by USDA’s Economic Research Service indicates that hunger is a serious and growing problem in the United States. In 2008, more than 49 million people, including more than 16 million children, were at risk of going hungry in America, up from 35 million in 2007.

President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have made addressing the issue of hunger in America a high priority of this Administration. For example, the President has committed to ending childhood hunger in this country by 2015. Secretary Vilsack recently stated that “it is time for America to get very serious about food security and hunger.”

Gering Ever Green House - Building and Renewing a Rural Community

In Gering, Nebraska (pop.8000 ) over the Oregon Trail Park, right next to the high school football field lies the Ever Green House. A project of Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska, the Ever Green House is a family and community development center featuring a community garden, a greenhouse, and a farmer’s market. With a mission of building community through gardening, horticultural education, community beautification and environmental stewardship, the mission encompasses many of the goals that the USDA is promoting.

From Our Garden to the Table

Hundreds of bell peppers in shades of green, red, orange and yellow were on the chopping block today at the DC Central Kitchen. The peppers, personally delivered by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack from the USDA Farmer’s Market, were on their way into quesadillas as part of the lunch menu at the DC Central Kitchen.

Secretary Vilsack and Interfaith Leaders Participate in a Service Event in Rural Ohio

On Monday, Secretary Vilsack was in Zanesville, Ohio for a Rural Tour town hall focusing on green jobs and a new energy economy. After the forum, the Secretary visited Maple Terrace, a public housing facility for low-income senior citizens. He led an interfaith service event highlighting President Obama’s United We Serve volunteerism initiative.

The Pool: The Great Equalizer

When I received an email from US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding the President and first Lady’s summer of service initiative, United We Serve, I thought, “Oh no, now what?” As I read about the goals of the program, I wasn’t sure if I would have either the time or the energy to do anything. But, as I thought about how lucky I am at this time to have a job, a roof over my head and a reliable vehicle, it seemed very little to ask me to give up one afternoon. Little did I know how much value I would find in giving up one afternoon of my time.