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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Webinar: Expanding Access to Healthy Food: New Data, New Ideas, New Directions

Roughly 30 million Americans live in communities without adequate access to healthy food. Join the Federal Reserve Bank on March 26 at 3:00 pm ET for a webinar that will offer fresh perspectives on understanding and addressing food-access issues.

Register here.

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Annual National Food Policy Conference

For the 38th year, the Consumer Federation of America will host the Annual National Food Policy Conference in Washington, DC on April 21 & 22. The Conference explores key food policy issues from the perspectives of consumers, the food industry and farmers alike.

Agenda offers a variety of facilitated discussions, from examining the Obama Administration’s primary food policy achievements to debating what a National Food Policy might look like. With the Dietary Guidelines, school nutrition standards and the Food Safety Modernization Act all making headlines, there will be no shortage of timely topics brought to life in sessions and breakout panels. Details here: https://www.signup4.net/public/ap.aspx?EID=NATI605E&OID=110

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Congress introduces Farm to School Act of 2015

The Farm to School Act of 2015 has been officially introduced in Congress! This bipartisan effort is being led by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH).

The Farm to School Act of 2015 builds on the success of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by proposing an increase in funding from $5 million to $15 million for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program. The bill would also ensure that the grant program fully includes preschools, summer food service sites, after school programs, and tribal schools and producers while improving program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Why is this bill important?

  • Farm to school is a proven method for improving the health of our nation’s children. Today, more than 23 million students are making healthier food choices at school and at home thanks to farm to school activities like school gardens, cooking classes and incorporating local foods in school meals.
  • Demand for the successful USDA Farm to School Grant Program far exceeds supply. In its first three years, the program received more than 1,000 applications but only had enough funding to award 221 grants. In other words, just one in five projects was funded.
  • Schools are an important market for farmers. In 2011-12, U.S. schools spent $385 million on local food. Farmers participating in farm to school initiatives nationwide have seen an average 5 percent increase in income.

What’s next for the Farm to School Act of 2015?

  • Tell Congress you support the Farm to School Act of 2015 by signing a letter of support as an individual or on behalf of your organization. Make sure Congress knows that farm to school is a powerful tool for supporting our kids, our farmers and our communities!
  • This act is what’s known as a “marker bill” which means it will be considered by Congress as part of the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act (CNR), which is set to expire on September 30.
  • As Congress considers the Farm to School Act of 2015 and CNR over the coming months, expect to hear from us about steps you can take to encourage your Senators and Representatives to support the bill. To learn how you can be an advocate, visit our website, sign up for our next webinar or watch this archived webinar.

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Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress

by Sarah A. Low, Aaron Adalja, Elizabeth Beaulieu, Nigel Key, Stephen Martinez, Alex Melton, Agnes Perez, Katherine Ralston, Hayden Stewart, Shellye Suttles, Stephen Vogel, and Becca B.R. Jablonski

Administrative Publication No. (AP-068) 89 pp, January 2015

Cover image for ERS report "Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress" (AP-068) This report provides an overview of local and regional food systems across several dimensions. It details the latest economic information on local food producers, consumers, and policy, relying on findings from several national surveys and a synthesis of recent literature to assess the current size of and recent trends in local and regional food systems. Click the report to access.

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Current Food Policy Legislation in Mississippi – February 2015

2015 MS Food Legislation

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Rethinking Obesity Prevention

Despite reported areas of decline, no country has reversed its obesity epidemic. Researchers increasingly believe that governments and stakeholders should act urgently to decrease the prevalence of obesity, including childhood obesity.

From regulatory action to empowering the public, the authors highlight opportunities to break the cycle of demand for foods of poor nutritional quality and move the focus toward changing food environments.

Register here.

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