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Tuesday Morning - October 4, 2011

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October 4, 2011

Table of Contents

USDA Recognizes States for Efforts to Provide Timely Nutrition Assistance for Americans in Need

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Kicks off New Nutrition Guide in Sacramento

Retail Food Safety Initiatives

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USDA Recognizes States for Efforts to Provide Timely Nutrition Assistance for Americans in Need

USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon praised select States and the District of Columbia for making improvements to ensure Americans eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) received benefits in a timely manner, in addition to improved program efficiency and integrity.

USDA offers monetary incentives to the eight States with the best and most improved program access index. The program access index is the ratio of participants to the number of persons below the 125 percent level and reflects State performance in reaching those eligible for nutrition benefits. USDA also provides monetary incentives to the six States with the highest rate of timely processed applications, an indicator of customer service in administering the Program.

Working with USDA, State agencies continue to enhance SNAP program integrity as demand increases in response to the current financial situation. This year, USDA is investing in process improvement efforts that examine local office processes and identify and implement efficiencies. USDA is also interested in funding projects that use technology to achieve procedural changes, such as document imaging, telephone interviews or web-based access to case status information.

The District of Columbia earned a timeliness bonus for the fourth time and third consecutive year. West Virginia has earned a timeliness bonus seven times. This is the first time Idaho, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oregon have earned a timeliness bonus.

For more information and to view the list of States, visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cga/PressReleases/2011/FNS-0004.htm

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Kicks off New Nutrition Guide in Sacramento

US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Sacramento, CA on Monday, September 26 to jump start the first campaign theme of the new MyPlate icon: “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables”. During the campaign kickoff, Vilsack noted that following a healthy diet such as MyPlate will help build strong rural agricultural communities, improve public health, as well as, create more jobs in the agricultural sector.
Vilsack chose California to roll out the MyPlate campaign due to the state's role as the nation's leading fruit and vegetable producer and is home to hundreds of thousands of agricultural jobs. During a visit to a local family-owned organic produce home delivery service, he noted that boosting the agricultural industry could create jobs nationwide.

The MyPlate campaigns, which are scheduled to run through 2013, will focus on three main topics: Balancing Calories, Foods to Increase, and Foods to Reduce.

More information can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov.

Retail Food Safety Initiative Action Plan

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) announced three new food safety initiatives to help assure the safety of food sold in food stores, restaurants, schools, and other foodservice establishments across the nation.

The Retail Food Safety Initiative Action Plan focuses on improving the way managers of retail and foodservice establishments conduct food safety operations in their facilities, as well as on improving the oversight of these establishments by public health agencies at the federal, State, and local levels. The Action Plan specifically calls for strengthening State and local food safety requirements that apply to these establishments and for improving training for personnel on measures to keep food safe.

The Action Plan outlines the goals and objectives that FDA will undertake over the next several years to improve food safety practices in retail food establishments.

The Action Plan is available at: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/FoodSafety/RetailFoodProtection/UCM272982.pdf


 
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