For four decades, March has been designated National Nutrition Month. This initiative of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is an effort to remind us all of the importance of making wise food choices.
Good health is influenced hugely by developing sensible approaches to eating and exercising. With that in mind, this month is a good time to take note of important initiatives by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that can help Americans develop healthy eating habits.
At a meeting with business leaders in Atlanta on March 21, Tom Vilsack, U.S. secretary of agriculture, said the USDA empowers Americans to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding access to healthy food availability.
A statement issued by the USDA highlighted the following ways the department makes a positive contribution in this regard:
"USDA's MyPlate symbol and the resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, health care professionals and communities.
"USDA also created SuperTracker, a free online planning and tracking tool used by over two million Americans daily to help them improve food choices, maintain a healthy weight and track physical activity.
"America's students now have healthier and more nutritious school meals due to improved nutrition standards implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
"Through USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, the Department has worked to increase access to nutritious food through the development of strong local and regional food systems.
"USDA launched a new $5 million Farm to School grant program in 2012 to increase the amount of healthy, local food in schools."
Vilsack stressed that there is a direct link between healthy lifestyles and a robust American economy.
"We know that people who eat right and exercise are healthier and more productive," he said.
The Messenger agrees with the secretary and applauds these worthwhile USDA programs.