WBEZ | USDA http://www.wbez.org/tags/usda Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en China's African empire http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-06-02/chinas-african-empire-110265 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/China photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>There are about one million Chinese citizens living in Africa at the moment. They are a major force of development on the continent. Author Howard French tells us how China is changing Africa.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-china-s-african-empire/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-china-s-african-empire.js?header=none&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/worldview-china-s-african-empire" target="_blank">View the story "Worldview: China's African empire" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2014-06-02/chinas-african-empire-110265 USDA to crack down on convenience stores that accept food stamps http://www.wbez.org/news/usda-crack-down-convenience-stores-accept-food-stamps-109895 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/corner store_140320_nm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The recently enacted federal farm bill has a new provision requiring that convenience stores sell healthier food.</p><p>It requires &ldquo;depth of stock&rdquo; on the shelves of convenience stores that are in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, commonly known as food stamps.</p><p>Depth of stock means more varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains and meats.</p><p>&ldquo;Our goal is really primarily to make sure SNAP households or low-income households or people with limited income have access to healthy foods,&rdquo; said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.</p><p>Concannon said 82 percent of SNAP benefits are redeemed at supermarkets or big-box stores. The challenges are the small stores often in low-income neighborhoods. Last year USDA held <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fculture%2Fusda-seeks-input-food-stamp-program-108659&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGOlQP568wSsZPHjrqVQgY-yFPpgA">hearings</a> around the nation about policy changes at convenience stores.</p><p>Food access is a big issue in Chicago food deserts. Gas stations, liquor stores, dollar stores and corner stores are the most common grocers. They accept food stamps, but these retailers are typically repositories for junk food.&nbsp; And a common complaint has been that the USDA food stamp standards are too low and those low standards aren&rsquo;t enforced.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s too minimal, frankly,&rdquo; Concannon said.</p><p>The USDA has to iron out the regulations but officials want the new rules to be in place by the end of the year. Once they are released, there will be a comment period before the changes take effect.</p><p>Concannon said USDA won&rsquo;t object if stores drop out of the program once the stricter regulations are in place. But food stamps are a boon for retailers. Across the country SNAP provides $80 billion in food stamp benefits. In Chicago, researcher Mari Gallagher said the Roseland community, a food desert, has 87 stores that take food stamps, earning on average $5,000 a week.</p><p>Only two of those Roseland stores are &ldquo;mainstream,&rdquo; which means they stock enough options to support a healthy diet on a regular basis. The rest were &ldquo;fringe&rdquo; stores that had limited food choices and specialized in high-fat and high-salt junk food.</p><p>Gallagher said the federal changes are necessary.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m super excited about how fringe stores could improve and serve the community in the future and help their own bottom line,&rdquo; Gallagher said. &ldquo;Being in SNAP is not an inherent right. It&rsquo;s a privilege they need to learn.&rdquo;</p><p>But she wants the USDA to put in safeguards for enforcement.</p><p>&ldquo;People might not be worried about tougher rules because who&rsquo;s going to enforce them?&rdquo; Gallagher suggests that the federal government partner with local public health authorities to ensure compliance.</p><p>Shamar Hemphill, an organizer with Inner-City Muslim Action Network, agrees about accountability. IMAN&rsquo;s approach to help eliminate food deserts is to not wait for a big-box store to come, but to improve existing corner stores where many people shop.</p><p><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fstory%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Fmuslim-coalition-targets-arab-run-stores-food-deserts&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEFUj4BlBCWMPPNR3H1dQxlIrIKnQ">Muslim Run</a> is the name of the campaign and it has expanded to four stores. Organizers have had <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fstory%2Fcorner-stores-become-oases-food-deserts-96575&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHFqby93zdO0vrrMuZT0hfidwKFeA">success</a> in getting fresh produce not only stocked but sold.</p><p>Hemphill said he looks forward to the new federal regulations but change &ldquo;won&rsquo;t happen unless the residents push and demand that these stores operate and carry these staple foods.&rdquo;</p><p>Frank Hafeez manages Halsted Grocery on 71st Street. The liquor-convenience store in Englewood has a tray of lemons, oranges, grapes and wilted green bell peppers. Boxes of potatoes and onions are stacked by the door.</p><p>&ldquo;I would like to know more,&rdquo; Hafeez said of the federal regulations. &ldquo;We carry what customers request.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, the Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights met about Chicago food deserts at Kennedy-King College on Thursday. The committee will make recommendations on how to eradicate food deserts in the next couple of months.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a><u>&nbsp;</u></em></p><p><em>Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Thu, 20 Mar 2014 15:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/usda-crack-down-convenience-stores-accept-food-stamps-109895 Food stamp spending grows at Midwest farmers markets http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/food-stamp-spending-grows-midwest-farmers-markets-109436 <p><p dir="ltr">In 2013, the amount of money spent at farmers markets by food stamp recipients grew in the Midwest.</p><p dir="ltr">And the number of farmers markets that accept food stamps experienced a 79 percent increase.</p><p dir="ltr">Alan Shannon, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said there are a lot of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-two-reporters-survive-5-food-day-108658">misperceptions</a> about families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;A lot of times there are access issues - food deserts and the like - where SNAP populations or lower-income populations don&rsquo;t have access to healthy food. Farmers markets a lot of times can resolve those challenges,&rdquo; Shannon said.</p><p dir="ltr">Last year, 65 farmers markets in Illinois accepted SNAP benefits; this year there are 97.</p><p dir="ltr">That helps many low-income areas, which <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/audio-engineering/federal-food-stamp-program-fails-some-low-income-chicagoans">lack</a> healthy food options.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When we look at these data every year going up for SNAP redemptions in the Midwest, you can tell that SNAP participants really do want healthy food, they just have to have access to it,&rdquo; Shannon said.</p><p>Illinois is third in the country in the number of farmers markets. Michigan is second in the nation in farmers market food stamp sales. Shannon said the private and nonprofit sector has helped support small farmers reach low-income families.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/image001.jpg" style="height: 308px; width: 620px;" title="Source: USDA" /></div><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is a WBEZ reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a> Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Tue, 31 Dec 2013 05:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/food-stamp-spending-grows-midwest-farmers-markets-109436 USDA seeks input on food stamp program http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/usda-seeks-input-food-stamp-program-108659 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 10.30.01 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>U.S. Department of Agriculture officials visited Chicago on Wednesday as part of their national listening tour. They&rsquo;re considering policy changes for retailers in the food stamp program that are skimping on healthy food choices.</p><p>The food stamp program is formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Advocates have long complained about lack of access to healthy food in corner and convenience stores - sometimes the only shopping options in areas designated as food deserts.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s very likely that there are going to be some changes. We are very, very interested in hearing from the advocacy community particularly. But also from retailers as to how they can get these healthier options in these stores, &nbsp;not the constant &lsquo;no people won&rsquo;t buy them.&rsquo; But where it&rsquo;s been successful, tell us how you&rsquo;ve done it so we can have that as part of the model that we can utilize as we develop the new rules,&rdquo; said Audrey Rowe, administrator for Food and Nutrition Services for USDA.</p><p>Rowe said ideally changes would be implemented this time next year.</p><p>USDA is asking a number of questions about the impact of SNAP. They include whether certain retailers should be excluded, possible tweaks to staple food groups and figuring out how stores can &nbsp;improve access to food choices.</p><p>There&rsquo;s long been criticism that the food stamp program has low standards, and those low standards aren&rsquo;t enforced. It&rsquo;s easy to see how this routinely fails in Chicago.</p><p>In 2010, a WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/audio-engineering/federal-food-stamp-program-fails-some-low-income-chicagoans">investigation</a> found that liquor stores, gas stations and dollar stores comprise 30 percent of the food stamp providers in Chicago. Often, these places offer more junk food than fresh food, but the federal government still gives these stores the green light to accept food stamps.</p><p>&ldquo;Saturday I was driving down along the South Side and I was looking at the stores and I was trying to identify those that had Link [the name of Illinois&rsquo; food stamp card] in their window and wondered myself how compliant they are,&rdquo; Rowe said. &ldquo;Many stores when they want to apply are very compliant.&rdquo;</p><p>Rowe said USDA has expanded its compliance division to so that it can investigate more often. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Natalie Moore is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">@natalieymoore</a>. </em></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 22:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/usda-seeks-input-food-stamp-program-108659 Can two reporters survive on $5 of food a day? http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-two-reporters-survive-5-food-day-108658 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 10.16.35 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Every September, hunger groups ask <a href="http://lee.house.gov/press-release/full-member-list-congressional-snap-challenge">politicians</a>, community leaders and journalists to take a break in their normal diet and try to live on $5 a day, or roughly the amount allotted to users of food stamps (officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap">SNAP</a>).</p><p>This year&rsquo;s &ldquo;<a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageNavigator/SNAPChallenge.html">SNAP Challenge</a>&rdquo; comes as the USDA conducts a rare review of the rules that govern the federal food assistance program. It also coincides with another push by Congress to renew the Farm Bill, which expires on Sept. 30, and ultimately determines how much money is allocated to the program. WBEZ reporter Natalie Moore and producer Monica Eng have been following these developments closely and decided to take the SNAP challenge themselves this year.</p><p>First, a few caveats: we know that taking the <a href="http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageNavigator/SNAPChallenge.html">SNAP challenge</a>&nbsp;for two days is not the same as putting ourselves in the shoes of those who truly rely on the program. Our cooking knowledge, kitchen equipment and access to a car are not shared by all low-income Chicagoans. We also realize that surviving on $5 a day for two days is not the same as doing it for months or even years. &nbsp;And finally, we know that $5 is not a perfect figure for comparison as SNAP funds, in most cases, are supplemented with other income.</p><p>That said, in the course of a few days we learned a lot about the difficulty of translating these meager funds into healthy, fulfilling meals. We figured out how much extra time and planning this can take, and how many of the daily foods and treats we take for granted suddenly become unavailable when your budget is cut back so severely.</p><p><strong>Our SNAP Game Plan</strong></p><p>We began preparing for the challenge last Saturday at the <a href="http://experimentalstation.org/farmers-market">61st Street Farmers Market</a> in Woodlawn, where we interviewed real SNAP participants on how they use their money. We chose this particular farmers market to enjoy the &ldquo;theoretical&rdquo; benefit of double value for all SNAP purchases up to $25. This is the only market in the city that doubles benefits up to $25 and it was a huge help in making our dollars go further. Shopping with a friend allowed us to split items, for example buying two bunches of kale for $5, instead of $3 a bunch.</p><p>We continued our shopping at <a href="http://www.petesfresh.com/">Pete&rsquo;s Fresh Market</a> in Brighton Park and the <a href="http://www.tortilleriaatotonilco.com/">Atotonilco Tortilleria</a> and <a href="http://www.supermercadoselguero.com/en/">El Guero supermercado</a> in Back of the Yards. These stores offer a greater selection and, in some cases, better deals than many of the substandard convenience stores, liquor stores and gas stations that pepper many of Chicago&rsquo;s low-income neighborhoods (we hope to address the challenge of using SNAP at those stores down the road). &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>In total, it took us a whopping four hours to shop and plan our meals &ndash; and stay on budget. Next, we had to prepare our meals and then, of course, eat them!</p><p>Click on the following links to see our individual grocery lists and food diaries for Monday and Tuesday of this week (Sept. 9-10).</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/monica-engs-snap-challenge-food-diary-and-shopping-strategy-food-stamps-108660" target="_blank">Monica Eng&#39;s SNAP food diary</a></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/natalie-moores-snap-challenge-food-diary-and-shopping-strategy-food-stamps-108661" target="_blank">Natalie Moore&#39;s SNAP food diary</a></p><p><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eI8gckr-TV/embed/" width="612"></iframe><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eI3VDTL-bt/embed/" width="612"></iframe><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="710" scrolling="no" src="//instagram.com/p/eJOwcSr-eu/embed/" width="612"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 11 Sep 2013 22:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/can-two-reporters-survive-5-food-day-108658 Humane Society calls for USDA investigation of Chicago Bull Run http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/humane-society-calls-usda-investigation-chicago-bull-run-108334 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Bull Run_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Humane Society says an upcoming Chicago Bull Run needs a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but organizers say otherwise.</p><p>The event involves bulls chasing thrill seekers around a fenced track.</p><p>The Humane Society contends that organizers do not have a USDA license that ensures the safety of both animals and the public.</p><p>John Goodwin is The Humane Society&rsquo;s Director of Animal Cruelty Policy.</p><p>&rdquo;Why would we put animals in harm&rsquo;s way when we have more entertainment options available to us today than in any point in human history?&rdquo; Goodwin said.</p><p>Rob Dickens is the co-founder and chief operating officer of The Great Bull Run.</p><p>&rdquo;What happens with this company is that they supply bulls to rodeos,&rdquo; Dickens said. &ldquo;They transport bulls all over the U.S. for this purpose and so it&rsquo;s that country that requires all those licenses by transporting these animals.&rdquo;</p><p>Goodwin says that a lack of license prevents the USDA from inspecting the event.</p><p>The Humane Society has called for the USDA to investigate bull runs around the country.</p><p><em>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/jclee89" target="_blank">@jclee89.</a></em></p></p> Thu, 08 Aug 2013 10:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/humane-society-calls-usda-investigation-chicago-bull-run-108334 USDA reduces corn crop to reflect wet spring http://www.wbez.org/news/usda-reduces-corn-crop-reflect-wet-spring-107662 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_stephanie_says.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>DES MOINES, Iowa &mdash; Corn farmers are feeling the impact of a cool, wet spring but are still expected to bring in a record crop this year.</p><p>The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its monthly report released Wednesday that farmers are expected to bring in 14 billion bushels of corn this year. That&#39;s 135 million bushels less than last month&#39;s estimate, reflecting the impact of the cooler spring.</p><p>But that would still beat the 13.1 billion bushel record, set in 2009. Last year, farmers harvested only about 11 billion bushels because of the drought.</p><p>The changes are not expected to significantly affect food prices for consumers.</p><p>The USDA said the amount of corn expected to be harvested per acre &mdash; the yield &mdash; will be reduced to 156.5 bushels per acre down from 158 bushels estimated a month ago. Last year&#39;s drought-withered corn yielded 123 bushels per acre.</p><p>Farmers in the Midwest received a short break from rain between May 13 and 19 and in that period corn planting advanced from 28 percent to 71 percent complete. That matched the weekly record of 43 percentage points sent in May 1992, the USDA said. However, rain and cool temperatures later in May further delayed progress.</p><p>In some parts of Illinois the corn looks as good as ever, said Jerry Gulke, an Illinois farmer who runs a farm management and market advisory business based in Chicago. He toured 400 acres of Illinois farmland on Tuesday.</p><p>&quot;We have record or near record crops in some places,&quot; he said. &quot;I saw some of the best stands in years.&quot;</p><p>The eastern corn belt states including Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio appear to have a very good corn crop. The question is how bad it will be for Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota, said Chad Hart, an agriculture economist at Iowa State University.</p><p>&quot;A lot of us are saying it will be a better year than last year, but it won&#39;t be a normal year,&quot; Hart said.</p><p>It&#39;s possible the very good areas could end up harvesting a good enough crop to help offset the land that didn&#39;t get planted or suffers from too much water, he said.</p><p>The government left unchanged the 97.3 million acres planted in corn and the anticipated 89.5 million acres to be harvested.</p><p>Those numbers are likely to change, however, because it&#39;s clear in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and parts of northern Iowa that farmers couldn&#39;t get into the fields in time to plant what they thought they would this year.</p><p>The adjustment likely will be seen in an annual report on acreage to be released June 28. That report is based on surveys with farmers reflecting what they actually have in the ground.</p><p>Some analysts expect the government to reduce the corn acres by anywhere between 1 million and 3 million acres for the report.</p><p>No changes were made in the soybean estimates in Wednesday&#39;s report although the government increased the expected average price to between $9.75 and $11.75 per bushel from the earlier range of $9.50 to $11.50.</p><p>Corn prices also were adjusted upward 10 cents per bushel on both the low and high end to between $4.40 and $5.20 a bushel.</p></p> Wed, 12 Jun 2013 14:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/usda-reduces-corn-crop-reflect-wet-spring-107662 Is pink slime really that bad? http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-13/pink-slime-really-bad-97262 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-14/Pink Slime.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-14/Pink Slime.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 333px; " title="(AP/File)"></p><div class="inset"><div class="insetContent"><p><span style="font-size:10px;">Listen to this conversation</span></p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/120314 pink slime.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-127709" player="null">120314 pink slime.mp3</span></p></div></div><p>Pink slime is everywhere these days. It’s in your burgers (probably) and the newspapers (most definitely). In an effort to parse the “sticky” situation, today it comes to <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>.</p><p>A microbiologist coined the term pink slime back in 2002 to describe beef scraps treated with ammonia hydroxide. The chemicals loosen up the trimmings, which eventually are mixed with ground beef.</p><p>To avoid bad publicity, fast food chains including McDonald’s ditched the substance -- but the federal government hasn't. Last week, <a href="http://www.thedaily.com/page/2012/03/05/030512-news-pink-slime-1-3/"><em>The Daily </em>reported that the USDA</a> is set to purchase 7 million lbs. of pink slime for school lunches, although Chicago Public Schools recently released a statement saying they run a slime-free operation.</p><p>The company that makes the stuff, Beef Products Inc., says it’s safe.</p><p>Chicago food scientist Kantha Shelke thinks the substance should be studied more thoroughly. While ammonia hydroxide is said to remove contaminants, ground beef products have seen an increase in salmonella and E. coli. She says it’s unclear whether that’s because of the slime or the meat itself.</p><p>Shelke comes on <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>to explain the science and say whether pink slime is any worse than the other ingredients and processes used to make food products. WBEZ's Louisa Chu also also weighs in on the controversy.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 14 Mar 2012 13:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/bez/2012-03-13/pink-slime-really-bad-97262 Lunch staffers to CPS: We want to cook http://www.wbez.org/story/lunch-ladies-school-officials-dump-frozen-food-95793 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-24/cityroom_20100407_llutton_1648854_Chic_large.png.crop_display.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago schools are serving more healthy food than they were a couple years ago, but many kitchen workers seem to think the district still has a long way to go.</p><p>For the 2010-11 school year, Chicago Public Schools switched to menus with more whole grains, a wider array of vegetables, and less sodium, starch, sugar and fat. For the current school year, the district made its breakfast offerings more nutritious. The district says it’s also adding more salad bars.</p><p>A union that represents about 3,200 CPS food workers on Tuesday released survey findings suggesting that many students and even school principals are not eating the chow. UNITE HERE Local 1 criticized the district’s use of frozen food prepared off site, and called on the Board of Education to “ensure that all new school construction proj­ects are planned with full-size kitchen facilities capable of real cooking.”</p><p>Linda Green, a 22-year CPS employee who works in the Southwest Side’s Grimes Elementary kitchen, said students are eating less of what she serves than they once did. “There is a lot of waste because it’s just unappetizing,” said Green, who helped conduct the survey. “If it’s cooked on site you can use more seasoning and make it more flavorful.”</p><p>Local 1 said 436 CPS food employees completed the survey in December. According to the union, 42 percent felt that students were eating the new food, 50 percent reported they rarely or never had observed their principals eating their cafeteria’s lunch offerings, 75 percent indicated they had not had a chance to provide input about the new menu and recipes, 62 percent wanted more training on healthy food and 39 percent felt they could report food quality or safety concerns to parents or students without facing discipline.</p><p>A CPS statement says about a quarter of the district’s schools now serve food prepared mostly off site. The statement says that “all new elementary schools are being built with a warming kitchen” and that “all new middle and high schools are being built with cooking kitchens.”</p><p>“The food that is brought into the warming kitchen meets the same nutritional guidelines as the food in the cooking school model,” the statement adds. “We are committed to providing healthy and nutritious meals for all students at all schools. Delivery of this meal may depend on a variety of factors including kitchen capacity, facility size and condition as well as cost. However, nutritional standards are consistent across all schools. Vendors, regardless of delivery system, are expected to meet the same nutritional standards.”</p><p>The survey findings came as the U.S. Department of Agriculture planned a Wednesday unveiling of the first major changes in school meal standards in more than 15 years. The department says the new rules aim to reduce childhood obesity by “ensuring kids are offered fruits and vegetables every day of the week, substantially increasing offerings of whole grain-rich foods, offering only fat-free or low-fat milk varieties and making sure kids are getting proper portion sizes.”</p><p>A version of the guidelines the department proposed more than a year ago would also have cut down on potatoes, made it harder for schools to report pizza tomato paste as a vegetable, and halved the amount of sodium in school meals. In November, lawmakers blocked the department from carrying out those rules.</p></p> Wed, 25 Jan 2012 00:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/lunch-ladies-school-officials-dump-frozen-food-95793 U.S. Ag chief paints food stamp picture http://www.wbez.org/story/us-ag-chief-paints-food-stamp-picture-95574 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-16/007.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A local breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday emphasized eradicating poverty.</p><p>The U.S. Department of Agriculture runs the food stamp program that helps 46,000,000 needy Americans.</p><p>Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack gave the keynote address at the annual Rainbow PUSH King celebration in downtown Chicago. He defended his boss – President Barack Obama – from GOP attacks that he’s the so-called ‘food stamp president.’</p><p>Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has said the African American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.</p><p>Vilsack painted a picture of the people who receive benefits.</p><p>"Over 50 percent of them are either senior citizens or children – senior citizens who paid their dues, fought in wars, have protected this country, have supported their families and their communities and finding themselves on fixed incomes with not enough to feed themselves," Vilsack said.</p><p>Dozens of politicians came out to the morning King celebration.</p></p> Mon, 16 Jan 2012 20:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/us-ag-chief-paints-food-stamp-picture-95574