Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Culver’s “Scoops of Thanks” Raises $56,500 to Support Agriculture

Each Guest’s $1 Donation Supported Local FFA and Other Ag Organizations
PRAIRIE DU SAC, Wis. – May 31, 2016 – More than 550 Culver’s restaurants across 23 states sold over 48,000 scoops of Fresh Frozen Custard during the second annual Scoops of Thanks Day on May 5, raising $56,500 for agricultural education. Guests received a scoop of Fresh Frozen Custard for a $1 donation to FFA or other local agricultural organizations.
“Our guests appreciate the hard work farmers put into producing our nation’s food as much as we do,” said David Stidham, vice president of marketing for Culver’s. “We’re glad to be able to set aside a day when the entire Culver’s community can show their gratitude and make a contribution to support the next generation of farmers.”
Scoops of Thanks Day is part of Culver’s Thank You Farmers program, which recognizes the hard work and commitment of the farmers who feed the nation. To date, the Thank You Farmers initiative has raised nearly one million dollars in support of the National FFA Organization and Foundation, local FFA chapters and a variety of local agricultural organizations. To learn more about the program and how to get involved, visit http://www.culvers.com/farmers/from-gratitude-to-support/.

Friday, May 27, 2016

My American Farm Outreach Grant Winners Announced

WASHINGTON, D.C, May 26, 2016 – The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has announced the 10 schools receiving this year’s $1,500 My American Farm Outreach Grants. They are:

·         Cassia High School (Burley, Idaho)
·         Christian Academy of Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky)
·         Cumberland Valley FFA (Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania)
·         Elk Grove High School Agriculture Department (Elk Grove, California)
·         Linn-Mar FFA Chapter (Marion, Iowa)
·         McArthur FFA (Hollywood, Florida)
·         North Iredell High School (Olin, North Carolina)
·         Ponchatoula High School FFA Chapter and Agriscience Department (Ponchatoula, Louisiana)
·         Sonora High School FFA (Sonora, California)
·         Waupun Area High School FFA (Waupun, Wisconsin)

Winning schools had to be located in an urban area and capable of reaching at least 400 elementary students with an outreach event using resources found online at http://myamericanfarm.org/. Outreach events must incorporate one My American Farm interactive game, one lesson plan and one video from the set of available resources. Classrooms also are encouraged to bring in a community/industry representative to share how agriculture affects their everyday lives. Upon completion of the outreach events, schools will receive $1,500 to further their agricultural literacy outreach efforts.

The My American Farm educational resource is a special project of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The site and resources are made possible through the generous support of title sponsor, DuPont Pioneer. To take advantage of the free My American Farm resources, games and activities, visit http://myamericanfarm.org/.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

DeLauro Calls on Republicans to Protect Women from the Zika Virus

WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today joined Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Joe Crowley (NY-14), and Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28) to call on House Republicans to fully fund the Administration’s request on the Zika virus. Last week, the House passed a bill allocating $622 million to respond to the Zika virus, which is just one-third of the Administration’s request.

Congresswoman DeLauro speaking at today’s press conference.
Click here to watch the full remarks.

Here are the remarks, as delivered:

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I’m proud to join with you and my colleagues with morning. You have talked about something that is really a national emergency and it is a crisis; it is a health care crisis in the United States. You talked about the numbers, 1400, but nearly 300 of these cases have to do with pregnant women.

We need to fully fund the President’s request. He made that request in February. It is now almost June. What the House provided last week was only a third of the request. It will not cut it.

According to the CDC—no one needs to take our word—according the CDC, pregnant women are already facing unacceptably long delays in learning Zika test results. CDC Director Tom Freiden has said that experts estimate a single child with birth defects can usually cost $10 million dollars to care for. That says nothing about what that child’s life is about with microcephaly—delays in learning to speak, to hear, to eat, to walk. Imagine, imagine the terror and the fright of families.

Some physicians are asking women not to get pregnant—arguing that avoiding conception is the only way to avoid the birth of a deformed baby. Is this the message that we want to give to American women?

Ron Klain, the Ebola Czar, wrote in the Washington Post: “It is not a question of whether babies will be born in the United States with Zika-related microcephaly — it is a question of when and how many. For years to come, these children will be a visible, human reminder of the cost of absurd wrangling in Washington, of preventable suffering, of a failure of our political system to respond to the threat that infectious diseases pose.”

We need to put American women in a place of safety. Do not put them in the predicament of choosing whether or not they should get pregnant—or if they are already pregnant, wondering whether or not their baby is okay.

We know this to our core, when we appropriate money for defense spending or wars, Republicans often say: ‘Listen to the generals in the field. They are the ones who know best.’ Well, we have generals in the field on this issue of Zika. They should be listening to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they should be listening to the National Institutes of Health, and they should be listening to the science community. They have called for $1.9 billion in funding for us to be able to combat the Zika virus. We need to give them the resources that they need. It is the responsible thing to do; it is the moral thing to do.

This summer, every woman who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant will be afraid to go to a picnic, to take their other children to Little Leagues games—or anywhere else—to sit out on a patio. We need to do all we can to ease those fear. We need to stop this disease from spreading any further.

And months from now, when the results of our inaction become apparent, we will ask ourselves, “Why did we delay? Why did we wait?” There are lives are on the line and this institution has the power and the ability to make that difference and to save lives. That’s why people sent us here to do something about it. Thank you.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Truckload Carriers Association Presents 2016 Clare C. Casey Safety Professional of the Year Award to Garth Pitzel of Bison Transport

“Garth is a crusader for our people and our industry — always available and involved, advocating on behalf of safety.”

Fort Worth, Texas – Garth Pitzel, director of safety and driver development for Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has been presented with the 2016 Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) Clare C. Casey Safety Professional of the Year Award. The honor is bestowed upon a recipient whose actions and achievements have had a profound and positive benefit or contribution to better safety on our highways. Today’s award ceremony took place during the organization’s Safety & Security Division Annual Meeting, held this year in Fort Worth, Texas.
Pitzel joined Bison Transport in October of 1994 and held various roles within highway and city operations before being promoted to his current position in June of 2001. He is responsible for company and driver safety, driver development, and company security. Under his leadership, Bison has established a safety culture that consistently wins awards throughout the trucking industry.
A well-known safety professional, Pitzel actively promotes the industry and furthers transportation and workplace safety initiatives. He appears at a variety of industry-related events as a speaker and presenter. He regularly contributes his expertise and resources to trucking associations and private industry, as well as to government and regulatory bodies. These have included initiatives in promoting and bringing new drivers to the industry, training for private fleets, and harmonization of regulations for long combination vehicles across provinces.
He is currently involved with TCA’s School Committee and has held several leadership roles within the Safety & Security Division. He is a member of the Saskatchewan Trucking Association’s board of directors, Qualcomm’s Safety Advisory Board, and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee. He also was inducted to the Manitoba Trucking Association’s Pioneer Club, which recognizes members of the local trucking industry who have been continually employed in the industry for at least 25 years and are actively and directly engaged in the formulation, direction, or execution of policy.
According to the application written to nominate Pitzel for the award, he “is an energetic and driven leader who engages and motivates people at all levels. He freely provides his time, direction, and resources to partners and competitors on many safety-related issues and initiatives. He believes that safety should be a common goal, which requires collaboration, perseverance, open dialogue and action. Garth is a crusader for our people and our industry—always available and involved, advocating on behalf of safety.”
Nominees for TCA’s award must exemplify leadership and demonstrate the goals of protecting lives and property in the motor transportation industry while serving their company, industry, and the motoring public. The award is named after a safety professional who actively served TCA from 1979 until 1989. He was devoted to ensuring that all truckload safety professionals meet yearly to build the strong safety network this Division provides today, and was instrumental in forming the first annual Safety & Security Division meeting in 1982. Upon his death in 1989, the first Award in his name was presented in 1990.
For more details about the annual Clare C. Casey Safety Professional of the Year Award, please visit http://www.truckload.org/Safety-Professional-of-the-Year. You can also follow TCA on Facebook—www.truckload.org/Facebook—and Twitter—www.truckload.org/Twitter.


Visit From Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell Planned for First Peas to the Table Contest Winner

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2016 – The winner of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture’s First Peas to the Table Contest is Carrie Smith’s third-grade class at Cason Lane Academy in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Smith’s classroom wins the grand prize – a visit from Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell, who joined the Foundation in launching the First Peas to the Table Contest in February.

“I’m confident that students will enjoy hearing from Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell about her platform of ‘Healthy Children, Strong America,’ which encourages children to make healthy choices and stay physically active,” said Julie Tesch, executive director of the Foundation.

First Peas is a new national competition for schools that encourages children in kindergarten through fifth grade to plant, raise and harvest peas.

Student teams competed to grow the greatest amount of peas (measured in cups) using no more than 20 pea seeds during the official contest period, March 1 – May 16. Smith’s class harvested 2 cups of peas, as did Sophie Walsky’s Elbert County 4-H Cloverbuds in Elberton, Georgia. The tie between the two teams was broken with a random drawing, after which the Tennessee school was declared the winner.
Thirty-one schools submitted pea measurements, although even more schools participated. Some schools’ peas were not ready to harvest at the end of the contest.
“Getting their hands dirty is the best way for children to learn! We are excited that through this contest, we were able to provide a fun, hands-on learning opportunity for students across the country,” Tesch said.
The contest highlights the Foundation’s latest Book of the Year, “First Peas to the Table,” by Susan Grigsby. The Foundation created the contest to help students understand the importance of healthy foods and agriculture in their everyday lives and to increase their understanding of how plants grow.

Students competing in the contest were allowed to grow peas in any manner including in a hot house, hoop house, indoor pot, planter or outside garden. In conjunction with the contest, Tesch continues to encourage educators to invite local farmers and ranchers to speak in their classrooms about food production and the importance of agriculture. Contacting your county Farm Bureau office is a good way to find local farmers.

Friday, May 20, 2016

New Nutrition Facts Labels to Feature Added Sugars, with Daily Value CSPI Praises FDA, First Lady, Administration for Revisions to the Labels

 WASHINGTON—A line disclosing added sugars with a corresponding percent-Daily Value on updated Nutrition Facts labels should help consumers reduce their risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  First Lady Michelle Obama will announce today that the Food and Drug Administration has finalized its long-awaited rule for the revised labels in a speech in Washington at the Partnership for a Healthier America’s annual summit.

New Nutrition Facts labels will indicate the amount of added sugars in foods and drinks.
The new Daily Value for added sugars on the revised labels will be 50 grams, or about 12 teaspoons—an amount representing 10 percent of the daily 2,000 calories recommended for many adults.  Once the rules are implemented, the Nutrition Facts label on a 20-ounce bottle of Coke, for example, would likely show that it had 130 percent of the added sugars limit for a day.  The new labels will help consumers looking at labels for things like yogurt, jams, or cereals know how much of the sugar comes from fruit or milk, and how much comes from high-fructose corn syrup or other added sugars.
“Right now, it’s impossible for consumers who look at a Nutrition Facts label to know how much of the sugar in foods is added and how that amount fits into a reasonable daily diet,” said Michael F. Jacobson, president of CSPI, which first petitioned the FDA to put added sugars on Nutrition Facts labels in 1999.  “Besides helping consumers make more informed choices, the new labels should also spur food manufacturers to add less sugar to their products.”
The revision announced today represents the first comprehensive overhaul of the Nutrition Facts label since its appearance on packaged foods in 1994 as a result of the passage of the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act.  Besides spearheading efforts to pass the NLEA, CSPI also petitioned the FDA to make the only other change to the labels since its inception —a line for trans fat that became mandatory in 2006.  When the FDA first proposed revising Nutrition Facts labels in 2014, the proposal included a line—but no Daily Value—for added sugars.  In comments on the proposed rule in August of 2014, CSPI argued that without a percent DV, consumers wouldn’t know how much of a day’s worth of added sugars a serving of a food contained.  In July of 2015 the FDA proposed a Daily Value for added sugars.
The new Nutrition Facts labels also give more visual emphasis to calories and will no longer have a reference to “calories from fat,” reflecting the new understanding that saturated and trans fat increase the risk of heart disease, while polyunsaturated fats and oils can reduce that risk.  The labels will make voluntary the declarations for vitamins A and C, of which most Americans get plenty, but declarations for potassium and vitamin D will be required.  The new rule lowers the Daily Value for sodium slightly, from 2,400 mg per day to 2,300 mg per day (CSPI would have preferred a more protective Daily Value of 1,500 mg per day).
The FDA also adjusted some serving sizes to reflect amounts typically consumed.  Thus, the serving size of ice cream will be two-thirds of a cup instead of half a cup and labels will show proportionately increased calories, saturated fat, added sugars, and so on.  The serving size for soft drinks will increase from eight ounces to 12 ounces.  The serving size for bagels, toaster pastries, and muffins (except English muffins) will increase from two to four ounces. And single-serving packages of foods that weigh up to (but not quite) twice the standard serving size will be considered just one serving.  Hence, a 20-oz. bottle of soda will have to be labeled as one serving.
 “Americans concerned about nutrition and their health owe a special debt of gratitude for the role played by the First Lady of the United States,” Jacobson said.  “Michelle Obama’s leadership accelerated these updates to Nutrition Facts labels, and the helpful changes will be a major part of the Obama Administration’s food policy legacy, along with improving school foods, eliminating artificial trans fat, and spurring positive progress by the food industry.”

GMA Statement on Nutrition Facts Panel Revision

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) issued the following statement from Dr. Leon Bruner, GMA’s chief science officer, on the release today of a new Nutrition Facts panel by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

“The Nutrition Facts panel has been an invaluable tool to help consumers build more healthful diets for their families for 20 years.  GMA shares FDA’s commitment to improving nutrition labeling regulations and it commends the agency’s significant investment of time and resources to update this important tool for consumers.

“This update is timely as diets, eating patterns and consumer preferences have changed dramatically since the Nutrition Facts panel was first introduced. Food and beverage manufacturers have responded by creating more than 30,000 healthier product choices since 2002, and by providing tools like Facts Up Front front-of-pack labels and our SmartLabelTM ingredient information initiative.

“Because consumers could be confused by the new label with its numerous changes, a robust consumer education effort will be needed to ensure that people continue to understand how the revised label can be used to make informed choices and maintain healthful dietary practices. We look forward to working with FDA and other stakeholders on messages and activities to help consumers understand what the new labels mean.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

House Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill Would Return Junk Food to Schools

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan
The House child nutrition reauthorization bill would roll back key progress that schools, health advocates, and the Administration have worked so hard to achieve over the last six years.  It would mean saltier school meals with fewer whole grains, with opportunities to roll back additional nutrition guidelines every three years.
The House bill would bring back junk food that has already been removed from schools.  The Smart Snacks standards would no longer apply to fundraisers or any food ever sold as a part of a meal, even cookies, chips, or other junk food.  The bill would weaken the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, allowing schools to substitute chips, sugary fruit snacks and trail mix for the fresh fruit and vegetables they now get as snacks through the program, and make it more difficult for low-income students to receive free meals.
The House child nutrition bill would set the stage for higher rates of obesity and diabetes in children.  Congress would do better to stick with the bipartisan compromise worked out in the Senate.  The Senate bill balances food service providers’ concerns with the need to support children's health.
CSPI and 750 other national, state, and local organizations strongly oppose H.R. 5003.  We urge Members of Congress to work toward a final child nutrition bill that maintains the integrity of school nutrition and the child nutrition programs and promotes children’s health.

EPA Disparages Farmers, Hinders Progress, Farm Bureau Tells Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C, May 17, 2016 – Three Farm Bureau members today called on the federal government to use more carrots and fewer sticks with farmers who care for land that has often been in their families for generations. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Richard Ebert, former Ohio Farm Bureau President Terry McClure and Florida Farm Bureau member Kate English testified before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry.

Ebert told the subcommittee that the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to explain its expectations in the ongoing Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

“Despite my four-year degree in animal science from a well-known and respected university and 34 years of farming while implementing modern technologies, I don’t understand EPA’s science,” Ebert said. “And no farmer can legitimately comprehend and respond to the reams of academic analyses that have been produced through these meetings and continue to perform the tasks needed to run his or her farm business.”

Ebert chided EPA for spreading false information about family farms.

“EPA and its cohorts point fingers and paint agriculture – farmers just like me – as a villain that impairs water quality in the Bay,” Ebert said. “But their accusations are in direct conflict with U.S. Geological Survey data – which showed pretty positive gains on water quality in tributaries throughout the Bay Watershed. These gains are not because of our revised Bay strategy or EPA’s model. It merely demonstrates what agriculture has been doing for decades through increased knowledge, additional opportunities, technology and time.”

McClure noted that Ohio farmers work hard to reduce runoff of excess phosphorous and nitrogen from their farms.

“Farmers have invested tens of millions of dollars of their own money in establishing conservation practices on their farms,” McClure said. “Between 2006 and 2012, they have voluntarily reduced phosphorous applications in the Western Lake Erie Basin by more than 13 million pounds. As farmers are stepping up to implement conservation practices now, they are committed to finding additional solutions in the future.”

English warned that federal regulations have become unworkably complex.

“A farmer shouldn’t have to have a lawyer and an engineer on staff to grow food,” she said.

English singled out the EPA’s controversial Waters of the United States rule as an example of bad science.

“The rule not only expands the regulatory footprint for farming and increases the uncertainty we battle daily, but it also lacks peer-reviewed sound science,” English said. “These regulations appear instead to be based on public opinion and social media trends rather than facts and science. The result is a highly unpredictable regulatory environment and uncontrolled costs when faced with compliance based on a moving target rather than a rational, science-based goal.”

Testimony of Richard Ebert: http://www.fb.org/newsroom/news_article/432/RichardEbertTestimony.pdf
Testimony of Terry McClure: http://www.fb.org/newsroom/news_article/432/TerryMcClureTestimony.pdf
Testimony of Kate English: http://www.fb.org/newsroom/news_article/432/KateEnglishTestimony.pdf

More information about Ohio Farm Bureau’s clean water efforts can be found here: www.farmersforwater.com.

SNA Urges a No Vote on House CNR Substitute

Block Grant Proposal Threatens Student Access to Healthy School Meals

National Harbor, MD (May 17, 2016) - The non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) is urging Members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee to vote against a proposed school meal block grant pilot. The measure is included in Subcommittee Chair Rokita’s substitute to H.R. 5003, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016. The substitute is up for a vote during the committee's Wednesday markup of the bill.

On behalf of SNA's 56,000 members, who work on the frontlines in school cafeteria's nationwide, SNA President Jean Ronnei, SNS, called on Members of Congress to oppose the block grant proposal.
“For 70 years the United States has maintained a steadfast commitment to ensuring children nationwide have consistent access to healthy meals at school,” said Ronnei. “This reckless block grant proposal is the first step toward eliminating this federal guarantee that all children - including America's most vulnerable students - will have access to the nutrition they need to succeed at school."
The block grant pilot would allow three states to abandon federal requirements, including mandates on student eligibility for free and reduced price meals and nutrition standards for meals. School meal programs in participating states would lose critical funds under the proposal. For example, the block grant would not include federal reimbursements for meals provided to full paid students or the additional 6 cent lunch reimbursement earned under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Funding provided under the block grant would remain static at Fiscal Year 2016 rates for the entirety of the three year grant cycle.
"School meal programs are already under-funded, with many struggling to break even in the face of rising food and labor costs,” said Ronnei. “Block grants threaten to strip these vital programs of critical funds and rob them of the ability to respond to increased demand due to local economic downturns or rising student enrollment. Further cuts will limit services for students, compromise the quality of meals, drive up school meal prices for families and force many schools to cut into education funds to cover food service losses."
“More than 30 million students nationwide depend on school meals to nourish their bodies and minds,” said Ronnei. “America’s students cannot afford to be part of this dangerous experiment.”
SNA is advocating for increased funding for school meal programs. Visit www.SchoolNutrition.org/PositionPaper to learn more.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Children of California Strawberry Farmworkers Awarded Educational Scholarships

Farmers Continue to Donate Funds to Annual Program that Helps Harvest Worker’s Kids Pursue College
WATSONVILLE, Calif. (May 13, 2016) — Helping children of strawberry farmworkers pursue college, the California Strawberry Commission today announced this year’s recipients of the California Strawberry Scholarship Program.

From the state’s strawberry growing regions, 261 high school graduates, and students attending other institutions of higher learning, will receive a combined total of $197,400 in scholarships for the 2016-2017 school year.

Now in its 23rd year, the program has awarded approximately $2 million to more than 1,000 children of California strawberry farm workers. Of the 2015-2017 scholarship recipients, 133 are from the Watsonville area, 97 from Santa Maria, 29 from Oxnard, and two from Orange County.

“Strawberry farming begins and ends with our farmworkers,” said Neil Nagata, Scholarship Committee Chair for the California Strawberry Commission. “Our strong commitment extends to their families, and we are honored to demonstrate this continuing commitment through the scholarship program. These awards invest in the people who make our crop possible, and help their children achieve their goals.”

Awards are based on individual merit and are sent directly to the student’s school to be applied toward tuition and books. To qualify, scholarship applicants must have at least one parent employed as a strawberry farmworker for the past two consecutive seasons. Students must attend an accredited vocational trade school, junior college or four-year university to be eligible for a scholarship. More than half of the students receiving funding this year currently attend four-year universities, community colleges or professional trade schools.

The California Strawberry Scholarship Program has contributed to students obtaining their educational degrees, including bachelor, master’s and PhD programs. Many recipients have entered professions that enable them to give back to their communities and families.

In Advance of Markup, More than 100 Members of Congress Express Concerns with House Child Nutrition Bill

WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Congressman Tony C├írdenas (CA-29) led a group of 111 Members of the Congress in calling on House leaders to strengthen nutrition programs in the child nutrition reauthorization—the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016—rather than enact misguided changes that would hurt our children’s access to nutritious meals, as the legislation currently does.

The legislation includes detrimental changes to the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (Summer EBT) program, the school meals verification process, and nutrition standards that would cause too many children, especially low-income children and children of color, to lose access to vital programs and healthier meals.

“The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 would unacceptably raise the qualifying threshold for the Community Eligibility Provision from 40 percent to 60 percent. To say this change would be detrimental would be an understatement,” Members wrote in the letter. “Raising the threshold to 60 percent would lead to far fewer schools qualifying for the program and more low-income children going hungry every day. According to CBPP and FRAC, if this bill becomes law, 7,022 schools now using community eligibility would have to reinstate applications and return to monitoring eligibility in the lunch line within two years. Another 11,647 schools that qualify for community eligibility, but have not yet adopted it, would automatically lose eligibility.”

“Gutting sodium standards, blocking scientific evidence from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and allowing junk food to be counted as an acceptable snack would undermine our children’s health and their future. We know that the 2010 standards have allowed our nation to make meaningful reforms to its core child nutrition programs. It is imperative that we continue to improve school nutrition and the hunger safety net for millions of children because hunger and under-nourishment prevent our kids from reaching their full potential, both physically and academically,” Members continued.

Monday, May 9, 2016


Urban School Food Alliance, in partnership with Interfel and in collaboration with French Department of Agriculture, celebrate a cultural exchange showcasing fresh fruits and vegetables in schools

NEW YORK, May 9, 2016 – The Urban School Food Alliance (the Alliance), a coalition of the largest school districts in the United States that includes New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orange County in Orlando, celebrates Fresh Attitude Week from May 9-13, 2016.  In collaboration with the French Department of Agriculture and in partnership with Interfel (French Inter-Branch Association of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables which created Fresh Attitude Week), Fresh Attitude Week has now become an annual event in America, along with France and Italy, to highlight fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals. This year, school districts in Chicago and New York will also host a French delegation to exchange ideas on how to encourage students to make healthy food choices.

“We’re honored to host the French delegation,” said Alliance Chairman Eric Goldstein, who also serves as chief executive officer of School Support Services for the New York City Department of Education.  “We’re proud to showcase our campuses and the innovative and healthy meals we serve our students.  The French are renowned for their food culture and this exchange is integral to our commitment to serve quality, healthy food in schools for both countries.”

During Fresh Attitude Week, the French delegation will meet city leaders, tour campuses to learn about how school gardens play an important role in food service as well as meet farmers and visit local farms where school food is grown.

“Our organization has been working for 40 years in the fight against childhood obesity by implementing actions that encourage the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Bruno Dupont, president of Interfel.  “Since 2005, we have organized events throughout France to encourage such activities and I am very proud that Fresh Attitude Week is now being celebrated across the Atlantic.  It is a great honor to celebrate it with the Urban School Food Alliance in the U.S. this year, and I’m sure it will be a great success.”

In 2014, the French Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry invited members of the Urban School Food Alliance to visit France to observe how the French government and the fruit and vegetable sector promote food awareness and healthy eating in schools.  In particular, classes encourage French students to sample a variety of food items using their five senses and to share their experience with their peers, ultimately strengthening the food culture of France for future generations.

“During Fresh Attitude Week, we will not only serve fresh items that students are familiar with in schools,” said Leslie Fowler, executive director of Nutrition Support Services at Chicago Public Schools.  “We will also introduce them to new fruits and vegetables to expand their palates and attitude towards food.  Many inner city students live in food deserts with little access to fresh items, so we believe it is important to educate them about a variety of produce available in the marketplace.”
For Fresh Attitude Week, the six school districts in the Alliance will conduct activities such as:
? Serve new fresh fruits and vegetables during breakfast and lunch
? Feature unique fresh salad offerings
? Highlight student-created vegetable recipes
? Host local farmers visits to educate students about “farm-to-school” efforts
? Showcase food art in cafeterias
? Offer fresh and healthy recipes from France and around the country for families to try at home
The six districts in the Urban School Food Alliance purchase $70 million worth of fruits and vegetables a year, 55 percent of which are locally sourced.  Their total annual budget is $550 million in food and food supplies.  All the districts in the group are also moving towards an antibiotic-free standard for companies to follow when supplying chicken products to their schools.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

K-State symposium to focus on food production, security in urban areas

OLATHE, Kan. – Growing food in the heart of the city where fresh produce can be surprisingly scarce is the focus of a conference June 22-25 in Olathe, Kansas.

Kansas State University’s 2016 Urban Food Systems Symposium will be hosted at the K-State Olathe campus. Presentations by several of the world’s foremost urban food systems experts on food production and distribution in cities, as well as nutrition and human health, are at the heart of the symposium.

Featured speakers include Julian Cribb, Julian Cribb & Associates, addressing “The Age of Food,”and Nancy Creamer, North Carolina State University distinguished professor of sustainable and community-based food systems, speaking on “Building a Local Food Economy in North Carolina.”

Food systems analyst Ken Meter will present “The Long Tradition of Urban Agriculture in the U.S. – and its Future,” andSarah Taylor Lovell, associate professor of landscape agroecology at the University of Illinois, will address “Planning Urban Spaces for Sustainable Food Production.”

Other sessions will cover Urban Food Production Systems; Policy, Planning and Advocacy; Nutrition and Human Health; Urban Farmer Training; Food Security; and Community and Economic Development and University/College Programs. Other topics are: Increasing Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in a South Los Angeles Food Desert; Just Like Mama Used to Make: Urban Farming as an Adjunct to the Federal Import Regulatory Scheme Regarding Immigrant Foodways; Increasing Access to Local Food by Extending Shelf Life of Fresh Vegetables; Food Systems for an Increasingly-Urban Population; and more.

A Thursday “Farm Social” is planned at the K-State Olathe Horticulture Research and Extension Center. A Friday night banquet at the Embassy Suites will feature local food and chefs and a presentation by noted Canadian food policy analyst and writer Wayne Roberts.

Attendees can also participate in one of three urban and garden farm bus tours that start and end at the Embassy Suites in Olathe. The tours are hosted by Cultivate Kansas City, a non-profit organization focused on growing food and farms. Cultivate Kansas City is a partner in the Urban Food Systems Symposium.

Space at the symposium is limited. Save $50 by registering by May 24. More information about the 2016 Urban Food Systems Symposium is available at www.ufss2016.org or by email info@ufss2016.org.

The Urban Food Systems Symposium is funded in part by the Kansas State University Global Food Systems Initiative.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Trend Toward Cage-Free Eggs is Based on Misinformation

PHILADELPHIA, May 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 100 companies purchasing eggs now are demanding their sources produce cage-free eggs.  The idea of chickens roaming about, scratching in the dirt, elicits an idealistic thought that it leads to better animal welfare and better quality eggs.  The National Association of Egg Farmers wants consumers to know that this is simply not true.
Not more humane - Removing chickens from cages, where they have been for decades, will lead to issues with more chickens dying. Chickens establish a "pecking order" among those in their group. Imagine a flock of thousands of chickens establishing a pecking order among themselves.  Those lower on the pecking order are pecked more often.  This is minimized in a cage environment where only a few birds are placed.
Food safety concerns - Cage-free eggs are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria due to prolonged exposure from litter and manure in the nest boxes or on the ground. The most recent Salmonella enteritidis (a foodborne pathogen) outbreak linked to eggs comes from a cage-free farm in Lebanon, Ohio.  A recent Food and Drug Administration warning letter was issued to a cage-free egg farmer in Missouri.  Yet the narrative that cage-free chickens produce a better quality egg gains traction because few are exposing this false premise.
Farm workers adversely affected - As for the workers in cage-free barns, the amount of dust, which can transmit pathogens, inside the barn represents a health risk to farm workers, and the need for workers to collect floor eggs creates ergonomic challenges, too.
Fewer egg farmers - Farmers want to please their customers and so there will be more cage-free farms built, but the smaller farmer will struggle with the estimated costs of $40 per bird for the labor, building, feeders, waters, and nests in their cage-free barns.  The larger egg farmers will build these structures and increase their market share as the smaller farms cannot compete and simply quit the business. The end result will be fewer, but larger farms producing eggs.
Ken Klippen, President, National Association of Egg Farmers (Offices in Philadelphia and Washington, DC)www.eggfarmers.org, 610-415-1055