USDA

Students at lunch
U.S. Department of Agriculture

About 650 schools throughout the state are opting into a program to provide free breakfast and lunch for all students.

It is part of a new program called Community Eligibility Provision, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The idea is to allow schools with high percentages of low-income children to offer free meals for all, instead of collecting individual applications for free and reduced price meals.

In Durham, 10 schools are offering free meals to all students.

NC Department of Health and Human Services logo
NC Department of Health and Human Services

Officials with the state Department of Health and Human Services say they have met a federal deadline as of yesterday to clear its backlog of food stamp applications. Earlier this year, the US Department of Agriculture threatened to pull 88 million dollars in funding if deadlines were not met.

Sherri Bradsher is the deputy secretary for human services at DHHS. She says the number of households that still need food stamps fall within the USDA's parameters of meeting the deadline.

USDA protest
USDA photo by Anson Eaglin. / flickr

Starvation is often considered a problem distant from the American experience.

But for many United States citizens, hunger is a way of life. And many of them live right here in North Carolina.

Photo: A tobacco farm in Eastern North Carolina
Flickr user perrykm5

Members of North Carolina’s congressional delegation are urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to not lower payments to tobacco farmers next year as part of the expected federal budget cuts known as sequestration.

The honey bee is responsible for pollinating many North Carolina crops.
Bob Gutowski / Flickr Creative Commons

The company Bayer CropScience says it wants insect experts to find out what's causing a massive drop in the bee population. 

The company broke ground on a bee research facility last week and plans to add a hundred employees at it expands in Research Triangle Park.  Bayer hopes scientists will be working with bees at the new building by the end of the year.  Iain Kelly of Bayer CropScience says other insects and diseases are invading much of the bee's natural habitat.

A shopper examines produce at Deep Roots grocery.
Deep Roots Coop

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill are gathering massive amounts of nutritional information to create a better picture of what Americans are eating. 

Scientists are looking at caloric data for every packaged food on the shelves and comparing that to food sales in order to see how they work into Americans' diets.  Professor Meghan Slining says the research will show how quickly manufacturers change ingredients in each product and how that changes nutrition.

USDA photo by Anson Eaglin / flickr

Starvation is often considered a problem distant from the American experience. But for many United States citizens, hunger is a way of life. And many of them live right here in North Carolinians.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 636,000 households in the state have been labeled “food insecure” within the past year. This means that over 17 percent of our families lack consistent access to nutritious food. Families hit hardest by food insecurity are Black, Latino and homes led by single mothers.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says his agency has reached a goal to expand smart grid technology usage. Vilsack says one of the biggest challenges in rural development is the efficient delivery of power. He hopes more money the USDA has secured will help electric co-ops better serve farms and ranches.

Tom Vilsack: "We want to do a better job of working with them to make sure that their customers are as efficient with the use of their electricity and power as possible which is why smart metering makes sense."

The U.S. Secretary of agriculture came to North Carolina to push a plan that may further decrease America's dependence on foreign oil.

Gurnal Scott: USDA secretary Tom Vilsack stood outside the Biofuel Center of North Carolina in Oxford to encourage a new standard in domestically-produced fuel. Vilsack says an E-15 ethanol blend, 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, will not only further wean the country from foreign oil but also create jobs. Vilsack says this should be attractive to farm families.

Preparations are being made to pay thousands of dollars to Native American farmers and ranchers who were discriminated against by the U-S-D-A.