Protecting Food from the Farm to Our Plates

Agriculture, Policies

Protecting Food from the Farm to Our Plates

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is ahead of the pack when it comes to ensuring that the food we eat and our agricultural supply are safe. An attack on our food supply—whether from intentional tampering, or due to contagious animal disease—could be dangerous to human health and could cause long-lasting economic impacts.

For S&T, food defense is a critical aspect of protecting the nation and our citizens. It is why S&T is working with partners across DHS and other federal agencies to ensure every step in the food supply chain is safe and secure—from farms, where crops and livestock are grown, to manufacturing facilities, where food products are processed, packaged, and then distributed to stores, and on to Americans’ kitchen tables. To achieve this, S&T is developing resources such as risk assessments to help the sector focus on the highest risk areas, so we can trust that the food we eat is safe, especially during a pandemic. These resources include developing tools for preventing and securing food from intentional adulteration during processing, developing animal disease vaccines and detection tools, and studying and characterizing toxic chemicals and pathogens that can contaminate food.

This large and important effort calls for a coalition of top experts: S&T, through its Office of Mission and Capability Support (MCS), the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) and the Chemical Security Analysis Center (CSAC), is collaborating with the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD) and others across DHS and the federal government, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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A pandemic within a pandemic: Kids battling mental health crisis during COVID-19

Family, Policies

A pandemic within a pandemic: Kids battling mental health crisis during COVID-19

 It has been called a “pandemic within a pandemic.” The unprecedented mental health issues children continue battling during the age of COVID-19.

It has left desperate parents looking for answers, but that help can be hard to come by. Psychiatric units are overflowing, and the worst may not be over.

Julie Barrett’s daughter started struggling soon after the coronavirus pandemic closed down her school last March. Now, 377 days later, the 14-year-old hit a breaking point. “She was out on the street saying she was gonna kill herself, that she just wanted to die,” said Barrett, who is a mother of four. “She wanted to be left there to die.” The teen, who has a love for music and her friends, went to a regular church meeting that night. All seemed well until Barrett got a call that her daughter was in the midst of a mental breakdown.

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Who is hungry in America? The pandemic has changed the answer.

Poverty, Threats

Who is hungry in America? The pandemic has changed the answer.

Before the pandemic, rates of food insecurity in the United States had been declining during the longest economic expansion in the country’s history. The percentage of households that were food insecure for at least some portion of the year had dropped from 14.9% in 2011 to 10.5% in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

But within those households, that still represented 35.2 million Americans worried about a low-quality diet or even when they would get their next meal.

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