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tony hernandez

Already Planning to Feed More Kids than Ever During Summer 2017

Now that summer has come and gone, I’m happy to announce that this season the USDA Rural Housing Service was able to partner with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to feed more kids than ever before. Three hundred and five participated in FNS’ , which provide low-income children with free, healthy meals during the summer when school is out. This is 121 more affordable housing communities we were able to serve than the year before, and almost triple the number from 2014.

This is a huge success, and I’m so proud of my team across the country for feeding more kids at our properties than ever before! However, we cannot become complacent because we have the potential to make an even bigger difference in the lives of rural kids. There are more opportunities to partner with borrowers in our Multi-Family Housing and , and I’ve set a lofty goal for summer 2017.

As Summer Draws Near, We Set Lofty Goals to Feed More Kids than Ever

March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.

You can tell by the smiles on the faces of Bradley, Alex, and Chris Lanthier that a well-fed kid is a happy kid! It’s smiling faces like these that make my job as Rural Housing Service Administrator so rewarding - these guys look as if they don’t have a care in the world. USDA Rural Housing Service is making a difference by helping kids, just be kids!

Yet it’s important to remember: unlike kids, hunger doesn’t take a vacation during the summer. Unfortunately, child hunger peaks during the summer months when kids from low-income families no longer have access to school meals.

High Five Series: Rural America is Home for the Holidays

Oh, there’s nooooo place like hooooome for the holidays… Every time I hear that song I get an extra spring in my step knowing that I work for an organization that helped more than 160,000 families afford to buy, rent, or repair their homes this year. That’s 160,000 families in rural America that are home for the Holidays.

This year, 50 New Hampshire families living in one of our rental housing facilities were on the verge of losing their homes, but because of local community action groups, and my amazing team of affordable rural housing professionals, USDA Rural Development is able to continue to provide rental assistance to 50 Granite State families for the next 30 years.  Last month, we were able to close a deal that will keep these 50 families, and an additional 50 elderly and disabled tenants in a neighboring affordable housing community in their homes .

A Conversation on Housing Development in Missouri

There's power in unity and it's always a great thing to see small communities come together to discuss ways of improving the places they call home. If we join forces, a lot can happen - and it all starts with a vision.

Speaking with the individuals of rural areas and creating solutions to further advance their communities is what I truly enjoy. As the Administrator for USDA Rural Housing Service, listening to the voices of people in small communities and making their vision become a reality is something I strive to achieve.

A Celebration of Homeownership

Homeownership Month 2015 is already coming to the end, and I couldn’t be happier with the celebrations I’ve participated in, read about or listened to stories of.

In 30 days I have visited seven states across our nation to meet the people that work for and with USDA Rural Development to help make homeownership a reality for so many rural American families.

I’ve seen hardworking folks in California and Montana push up the walls to their future homes; I met families in Ohio and Oklahoma who were already moved in, but still thoroughly filled with the joy of homeownership.

Building a Better Future Together: Homeownership Month 2015

Rural America faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to combating poverty in our towns and communities. Too often, rural people and places are hard to reach or otherwise underserved -- but USDA makes sure they are not forgotten. I believe that USDA and its partners have the tools and the means to expand opportunity and better serve those living in poverty.  This month, Homeownership Month, we are celebrating a program that has helped rural families locate and climb ladders of opportunity into the middle class: .

Fifty years ago USDA initiated The Mutual Self-Help Housing Program to provide very low- and low-income families the opportunity to achieve the American dream of homeownership, and in 50 years, USDA has partnered with more than 100 to help 50,000 rural American families accomplish homeownership.

Rural Housing: Making a Home for Summer Food Program

In 2014, depended on free or reduced-price school lunches. When school lets out for the summer, many of these children do not get enough to eat and become at risk of all the health issues associated with hunger.  Poverty and the lack of food for children are persistent problems in rural America.

As Administrator of USDA’s Rural Housing Service (RHS), I know our agency helps hungry children. Working with the owners and managers of USDA-financed affordable rental housing last summer, I learned we can do even more. Together, we partnered with our sister agency – the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) – to feed children when school is out for the summer.

A Tour of Development in Downeast Maine

Recently, Tony Hernandez, USDA Rural Development's Housing and Community Facilities Administrator visited Maine to see firsthand how Rural Development can support the growing seafood processing industry in Downeast Maine. Tony also met with leaders from the Penobscot Indian Nation to discuss USDA Rural Development’s ongoing support of housing and community development on the Tribal lands.

We had a very valuable trip, starting with a visit to Prospect Harbor to see the Maine Fair Trade Lobster Company. Formerly the Stinson Seafood Cannery, the largest sardine cannery in the nation, the building and equipment were purchased by what became Maine Fair Trade Lobster Company. The purchase preserved much-needed jobs in the area, and the facility now employs approximately 170 workers and processes over 50,000 pounds of lobster every day. We're working with community leaders in Prospect Harbor to ensure USDA Rural Development supports community capacity building and infrastructure development as businesses like Maine Fair Trade Lobster Company expand and increase employment.

Homeownership and Independence Day Go Together Like Baseball and Apple Pie

This year, Independence Day will be even more meaningful for tens of thousands of families across the nation. With financing assistance from USDA, they will be able to gather their loved ones in their own homes and back yards to celebrate the holiday as homeowners.

As the Administrator for , I spent the past weeks celebrating National Homeownership Month with rural families who are achieving the American Dream with USDA assistance. On the final day of the month-long celebration, I joined families who are now constructing their homes through USDA's Mutual Self-Help program, as well as another group of families moving into their new homes just in time to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Homeownership Becomes Reality at Zuni Pueblo

By mid-morning the wind was howling and blowing the auburn colored sand across Zuni Pueblo located in western New Mexico.

But this was the last thing on the minds of Kay Panteah, Reyanna Nastarcio and Martha Sheche tribal members of Zuni Pueblo. This is the day they celebrate the completion of construction of their new homes—the homes they built with their own hands with the help of family and friends.

At last, this day has finally arrived—after all of those days of hanging drywall, driving nails, and painting walls. After a year of hard work they are being honored by an age-old tradition where their community comes together and celebrates a special feast day.  A celebration that includes a blessing of thanks, song and dance by the Zuni Olla Maidens where they rejoice in the ‘homecoming’ for these three women who have worked hard to attain the title of ‘homeowner’ and to create a home for their families.

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