MFPC Quarterly General Membership Meeting- MAY 1st 2015

Please plan to attend the Mississippi Food Policy Council’s General Membership Meeting May 1st!

When: Friday, May 1st, 2015

Where: Mississippi State University CAVS Extension Center
153 Mississippi Parkway Canton, MS 39046

Time: 11:00 a. m. – 2:00 p.m.

(lunch will be provided — please plan to make a $5-$10 donation to MFPC to pay for your meal)

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40,328 schools and counting!

The first USDA Farm to School Census showed us that by the 2011-12 school year the farm to school movement had taken hold in communities across the country, reaching more than 40,000 schools and 23.5 million students. Since then, even more schools have started buying local products and teaching children where their food comes from, so USDA is taking another pulse.

Does your school participate in farm to school activities? Make sure it gets counted! USDA is seeking updated information through the 2015 Farm to School Census now. This is an important tool for gathering information about the state of the farm to school movement to advocate for supportive policies from the local and state level to Washington, D.C. Together we’re building healthy eaters and strong local economies. Help us show that farm to school is the new normal.

The Census questionnaire was distributed to school districts through state agencies the week of March 16. School district submissions must be received by May 29, 2015. Make sure your local food purchases, school gardens and other farm to school activities are counted! 

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USDA Announces Record Number of Organic Producers in the US

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that the organic industry continues to show remarkable growth domestically and globally, with 19,474 certified organic operations in the United States and a total of 27,814 certified organic operations around the world.

According to data released by the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP), the number of domestic certified organic operations increased by more than 5 percent over the last year. Since the count began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent. The certified operations list is available at apps.ams.usda.gov/nop.

“As demand for organic products continues to soar, more and more producers are entering the organic market,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA tools and resources have created opportunities for organic farmers and more options for organic consumers. Growing demand for organic goods can be especially helpful to smaller family operations. The more diverse type of operations and the more growing market sectors we have in American agriculture, the better off our country’s rural economy will be.”

USDA is committed to connecting organic farmers and businesses with resources to ensure the continued growth of the organic industry. Along with programs to support conservation, provide access to loans and grants, fund organic research and education, and integrated pest management, USDA administers organic certification cost share programs to offset the costs of organic certification for U.S. producers and handlers nationwide.

Now, USDA is using funding from the 2014 Farm Bill to develop the Organic Integrity Database, a modernized certified organic operations database that will provide accurate information about all certified operations that is updated on a regular basis. The modernized system will allow anyone to confirm organic certification status using the online tool, support market research and supply chain connections, allow international verification of operator status to streamline import and export certificates, and establish technology connections with certifiers to provide more accurate and timely data. The initial launch is planned for September 2015.

Additional information about USDA resources and support for the organic sector is available on the USDA Organics Resource page at www.usda.gov/organic.

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MFPC Quarterly General Membership Meeting- MAY 1st 2015

Please plan to attend the Mississippi Food Policy Council’s General Membership Meeting May 1st!

When: Friday, May 1st, 2015

Where: Mississippi State University CAVS Extension Center
153 Mississippi Parkway Canton, MS 39046

Time: 11:00 – 2:00 p.m.

(lunch will be provided — please plan to make a $5-$10 donation to MFPC to pay for your meal)

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Updates

USDA Awards $31 Million in Grants to Help SNAP Participants Afford Healthy Foods

Last week, USDA announced $31.5 million in funding to local, state, and national organizations to support programs that help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increase their purchase of fruits and vegetables. Descriptions of the funded projects may be found here.

More Children Benefiting from Better Nutrition Standards
School breakfast is getting healthier and a new report states that an average of 11.2 million low-income children ate a healthy morning meal each day at school during the 2013-2014 school year. Access the report here.

‘Buying Local’ Guide Available for Schools
USDA has a guide for managers of school cafeterias to use when determining whether and how to ‘buy local’.  The resource helps the user to decide which procurement method to use when buying local and offers tips for how to source local items.

New Online Interactive Database: Data, Trends, and Maps
CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) recently announced the launch of its new online database. The interactive tool provides nutrition, physical activity, obesity, and breastfeeding data from a variety of sources.

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WEBINAR: Connecting Public Health and Food Service Operators: Changing the Way America Eats

The CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke and the National Network of Public Health Institutes, in collaboration with the Culinary Institute of America are hosting an upcoming webinar focusing on working with large food service providers and independent restaurants to improve nutrition and reduce sodium. The webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, April 8th, 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. (CST).

Click HERE to register.

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News and Updates

SNAP Beneficiaries by Congressional District
The USDA has made SNAP data available for every congressional district. Click here to access the map.

Farm to School Grant Process Underway
Last week, USDA released a request for applications for the FY 2016 round of Farm to School grants. Designed to increase the availability of local foods in eligible schools, the grants help new farm to school programs get started or expand existing efforts, facilitating stronger connections between local and regional producers and school cafeterias. More information about the grant program, upcoming webinars relevant to applicants, and sample grant applications can be found on-line here.

Food and Nutrition Assistance Research Database
USDA’s Economic Research Service has compiled an electronic database of over 1,000 peer-reviewed reports and articles on food and nutrition assistance-related research. The database has been updated through December 2014. Click here to visit the database.

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