Friday, December 2, 2016

DLA Troop Support, USDA provide Native American tribes fresh fruits, vegetables

To many, America’s Great Northwest may come to mind as one of abundance — of salmon, software and the Space Needle. Yet there are Americans in this region and other areas of the United States who struggle to get a variety of nutritious food for themselves and their families — or enough food at all. This is particularly true for fresh fruits and vegetables. One option for American Indians, Alaska natives and their neighbors is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, serving more than 92,000 participants, most of whom live in rural areas. To help FDPIR participants get access to fresh produce, Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support’s Subsistence supply chain plays a crucial role. Since 1994, DLA Troop Support has worked with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to handle several logistical tasks for FDPIR — tasks DLA also performs thorough the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. This program USDA Foods is open to income-eligible households living on Indian reservations, and to American Indian households residing in approved areas near reservations or in Oklahoma. Participants must meet income requirements and not participate in FDPIR and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in the same month. A pleasant surprise The Shoalwater Bay Reservation, on the central coast of Washington, is about 30 minutes from the hamlet of Raymond and about the same to Aberdeen. To the south is the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge, home of one of North America’s last four subspecies of elk. Indian tribes are still very much a part of this region. Native Americans live on and near several reservations in the area — including the Shoalwater Bay Tribe Reservation, where Titiana Burks loads boxes into her vehicle at the tribal food center. Burks has Alaska Native heritage but has lived in Washington state almost all her life. She participates in the FDPIR to help feed her children. “This helps my family out tremendously, versus any other programs,” she said. “Each box is a surprise, because I don’t know what I’ll get ... but I’m very thankful for what I get.” She’s a particular fan of the fresh fruits and vegetables she gets through FDPIR. “I love it," Burks said. "It’s kind of like harvesting them out of the garden without having a garden. My three kids love the food.” Without the program, “I would probably go down to the local food bank and wait,” Burks said. “But I know this food is healthy and low-sodium.” The fruit network The seeds of DLA’s involvement in FDPIR were planted in 1994, when USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service began to work with DLA to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to schools. FNS had realized DLA Troop Support’s contracts with small regional wholesalers/distributors of fresh fruits and vegetables were the perfect way to help tribes get those foods, said Patricia Scott, chief of DLA Troop Support’s Customer Operations Garrison Feeding Division. That year, a USDA/DLA pilot project began, with $3.6 million of funding and serving eight states. The DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, commonly known as “DoD Fresh,” was made official in 1996 and now serves schools in 48 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. In FDPIR, FNS acts as the program manager, Scott explained. For FDPIR and its other USDA Foods programs, FNS buys a variety of healthy foods in many food categories in full truckload quantities from farmers across the nation, via USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. But for smaller amounts of fruits and vegetables, USDA did not have contracts set up with the regional distributors. “The DLA Subsistence produce contracts were the right fit for supplying smaller amounts of a wider range of fruits and vegetables to these remote areas,” Scott said. “DLA’s buying power enables all customers in each contract zone to get the same delivered price and highest quality produce from our contracted vendors.” Serving their communities Many Native Americans give back to their communities by working for organizations that receive and distribute food received through FDPIR. David Gibson, a Navajo, is the assistant director and warehouse manager of the commodity food program at the Small Tribes of Western Washington, in Lakewood. STOWW serves 14 tribes in this part of the state, as well as six in Southeast Alaska and two on the Aleutian Islands. “This program provides a stable food base for our clients,” he said. “Many of them are Native, and a lot of them are non-Natives." Gibson noted that many of the tribes served by STOWW don’t have any grocery store nearby. “So we’re bringing food to them that they would otherwise have to drive a great distance to get,” he said. He recalled his childhood visits to see his grandparents, who lived on a reservation in New Mexico and relied on FPPIR. “We would drive 60 miles to the nearest town to get their commodities,” Gibson said. But back then, there were no fresh fruits and vegetables — only dry goods. The current FPDIR “is a lot of better of a program." In the area STOWW serves, deliveries usually become a community event, he said. In one location, residents welcome the STOWW delivery staff with lunch they prepared using food from the program. “That really means a lot to us,” he said. Produce for the future For now, the program’s participants say they appreciate the fresh produce DLA helps provide. Angelina Phansisay, who is Chinook, picks up produce for her children as well as elders in her community at the STOWW center. “It’s more than awesome to be able to have fresh fruit. It means a lot,” she said. “I couldn’t be more blessed.” For more about FDPIR, check out the video on DLA's YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcTI5HbmZBM As a Department of Defense combat support agency, DLA provides the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, other federal agencies, and joint and allied forces with a variety of logistics, acquisition and technical services. The agency sources and provides nearly 100 percent of the consumable items America’s military forces need to operate, from food, fuel and energy, to uniforms, medical supplies, and construction and barrier equipment. DLA also supplies 86 percent of the military’s repair parts. Headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, DLA has more than 25,000 employees worldwide and supports more than 2,300 weapon systems. For more information about DLA, go to www.dla.mil, www.facebook.com/dla.mil or http://twitter.com/dlamil Article written by John Bell, DLA Public Affairs Office

Senior Policy Staff Member to Take Helm as Policy Director for National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Washington, DC, December 2, 2016 – The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) today announced the appointment of Greg Fogel as the Coalition’s next Policy Director, effective January 3, 2017. Together with Jeremy Emmi, NSAC’s Managing Director since 2013, Fogel will help lead the organization into the future. Founded in 1988, NSAC is a leader in both agricultural policy and grassroots advocacy. NSAC’s 117-member coalition advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. Fogel, who currently serves as Senior Policy Specialist and Federal Budget and Appropriations Coordinator, was chosen from a field of over 50 candidates following a year long search process. He has led NSAC’s work on farm conservation, energy, and environmental policy since 2010, and on budget and appropriations issues since 2012. Previously, Fogel has worked for the Northeast-Midwest Institute, the Community Food Security Coalition, the Shanghai Organic Agriculture Company, and the Coalition for a Healthy California. He has a Master of Science degree and a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. in International Development from the University of California-Berkeley. Current NSAC Policy Director Ferd Hoefner, who has served as NSAC’s senior Washington representative since the organization began in 1988 and has worked to reform federal food and agricultural policy since 1977 – will take on a new, full-time role with NSAC as Senior Strategic Advisor. “I am excited that Greg will be taking over the policy reins for NSAC,” said Hoefner. “He has a strong knowledge base, ample advocacy experience, and far-reaching understanding of NSAC members. I congratulate Greg and applaud the NSAC transition team for its focused and dedicated work throughout the selection and hiring process. After nearly 30 years with NSAC and 40 years in the federal food and agriculture policy business, I decided to initiate this transition a year and a half ago. I very much look forward to moving into the new Senior Strategic Advisor role here at NSAC starting next year.” Teresa Opheim, who currently works with the NSAC member groups Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) and Renewing the Countryside and was a former PFI Executive Director and NSAC Executive Director, chaired the transition team. Representatives of NSAC member organizations from California, Kansas, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin joined her in conducting the search and overseeing the transition process. “This transition is a positive step forward for the sustainable agriculture policy movement as we work to broaden our senior leadership. Kudos to Ferd for working with us to ensure this leadership transition takes place in a thoughtful way. Now, as we approach our thirtieth anniversary year, is a good time to progress through this planned transition. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has never been stronger -- NSAC’s membership now stands at 117 groups, and the entire staff and finances are very strong.” NSAC’s member groups advance common positions to support small and mid-size family farms, protect natural resources, promote healthy rural communities, and ensure access to healthy, nutritious foods by everyone. The Policy Director leads the Coalition’s efforts to gather farmer input, develop consensus policies, and provide direct advocacy to further those objectives. The Policy Director also works closely with the NSAC grassroots team to strengthen the capacity of NSAC member groups, strengthen the broader sustainable agriculture movement, and promote citizen engagement in the policy process. “I am deeply honored to serve as NSAC’s next Policy Director,” said Fogel. “There is no organization that I would rather work for. The mission and values that drive NSAC’s work are the same ones that motivated me to enter the policy world in the first place. Our staff is second-to-none in D.C., and I greatly look forward to taking on this new role with them and moving NSAC forward. I look forward to working with Ferd in his new capacity as Senior Strategic Advisor, and to leading the policy team as we forge relationships with the new Administration and prepare for the 2018 Farm Bill.”

Monday, November 21, 2016

USDA's Five Tips for a Food Safe Thanksgiving

WASHINGTON, November 21, 2016 – This week millions of Americans will gather family and friends around the dinner table to give thanks. But for those preparing the meal, it can be a stressful time. Not to mention, for many it is the largest meal they have cooked all year, leaving plenty of room for mistakes that could cause foodborne illness. "Unsafe handling and undercooking of food can lead to serious foodborne illness," said Al Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). "Turkeys may contain Salmonella and Campylobacter, harmful pathogens that are only destroyed by properly preparing and cooking the turkey. Similarly, leaving leftovers out for too long, or not taking care to properly clean cooking and serving surfaces, can lead to other types of illness. We want to be sure that all consumers know the steps they can take and resources that are available to them to help prepare a safe and enjoyable holiday meal. " To avoid making everyone at the table sick, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) offers five tips for a food safe Thanksgiving: Tip 1: Don't Wash That Turkey. According to the most recent Food Safety Survey, conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, 68 percent of the public washes whole turkey before cooking it. USDA does not recommend washing raw meat and poultry before cooking. Washing raw meat and poultry can cause bacteria to spread up to three feet away. Cooking (baking, broiling, boiling, frying or grilling) meat and poultry to the right temperature kills any bacteria that may be present, so washing meat and poultry is not necessary. Tip 2: Use the refrigerator, the cold-water method or the microwave to defrost a frozen turkey. There are three safe ways to defrost a turkey: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave oven. Thawing food in the refrigerator is the safest method because the turkey will defrost at a consistent, safe temperature. It will take 24 hours for every 5 pounds of weight for a turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. To thaw in cold water, submerge the bird in its original wrapper in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes. For instructions on microwave defrosting, refer to your microwave's owner's manual. Cold water and microwave thawing can also be used if your bird did not entirely defrost in the refrigerator. Tip 3: Use a meat thermometer. The only way to determine if a turkey (or any meat, poultry or seafood) is cooked is to check its internal temperature with a food thermometer. A whole turkey should be checked in three locations: the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast. Your thermometer should register 165°F in all three of these places. The juices rarely run clear at this temperature, and when they do the bird is often overcooked. Using the food thermometer is the best way to ensure your turkey is cooked, but not overdone. Tip 4: Don't store food outside, even if it's cold. Storing food outside is not food safe for two reasons. The first is that animals, both wild and domesticated, can get into food stored outside, consuming it or contaminating it. The second is temperature variation. Just like your car gets warm in the summer, a plastic food storage container in the sun can heat up and climb into the danger zone (above 40°F). The best way to keep that extra Thanksgiving food at a safe temperature (below 40°F) is in a cooler with ice. Tip 5: Leftovers are good in the refrigerator for up to four days. Cut the turkey off the bone and refrigerate it as soon as you can, within 2 hours of the turkey coming out of the oven. Leftovers will last for four days in the refrigerator, so if you know you won't use them right away, pack them into freezer bags or airtight containers and freeze. For best quality, use your leftover turkey within four months. After that, the leftovers will still be safe, but can dry out or lose flavor. Want additional food safety tips? If you have questions about your Thanksgiving dinner, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert. Last November they answered more than 3,000 calls about Thanksgiving dinner. You can also chat live with a food safety expert at AskKaren.gov, available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish. If you need help on Thanksgiving Day, the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET. Consumers with food safety questions can visit FoodSafety.gov to learn more about how to safely select, thaw and prepare a turkey. For more Thanksgiving food safety tips, follow FSIS on Twitter, @USDAFoodSafety, or on Facebook, at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.