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Suzette's Letter, July 31, 2015



Imports used by the U.S. food system totaled $76.6 billion in 2013

In 2013, U.S. consumers spent $1.5 trillion on food and beverages, including both grocery store and eating-out purchases. Imported food and beverages that were purchased directly by U.S. consumers (such as farm-raised shrimp from Thailand, fresh avocados from Mexico, and wines from Spain) accounted for $186.9 billion—13 percent of this total. The remaining 87 percent ($1.3 trillion) was spent on domestically-produced food and beverages. Food and beverages produced in the United States rely not only on domestic inputs, but also on embedded imports. Embedded imports are food ingredients and non-food inputs that are imported and used throughout the U.S. food system. For example, cranberries are imported from Canada and then used as an ingredient in U.S. fruit juice production. Likewise, foreign-produced cookware and refrigerators are purchased by U.S. restaurant owners and are examples of embedded imports in the U.S. food system. In 2013, $76.6 billion of embedded imports were used, accounting for 5 percent of total U.S. food spending. A chart appears in “Accounting for Direct and Embedded Imports in the U.S. Food and Beverage Dollar” in ERS’s July 2015 Amber Waves magazine.

One in five rural counties had child poverty rates over 33 percent

Child poverty rates varied considerably across nonmetropolitan (rural) counties according to 2009-13 county averages (data on poverty for all U.S. counties are available from the American Community Survey only for 5-year averages). According to the official poverty measure, one in five rural counties had child poverty rates over 33 percent. Child poverty has increased since the 2000 Census (which measured poverty in 1999) and the number of rural counties with child poverty rates of over 33 percent has more than doubled. Improving young adult education levels tended to lower child poverty rates over the period, but increases in single-parent households and economic recession were associated with rising child poverty. Metropolitan counties had average child poverty rates of 21 percent in 2009-13. A map appears in the July 2015 Amber Waves feature, "Understanding the Geography of Growth in Rural Child Poverty."


The Orton Family Foundation invites you to a free Heart & Soul Talk: Out of the Box Ways to Boost Public Engagement.  You’ll hear great ideas for how to get creative and get results with public engagement that involves everyone. On the call are Meagan Picard, Orton senior associate; Meaghan Carlson, past Heart & Soul project coordinator in Gardiner, Maine; and Robby Henes, Heart & Soul Team member, from Cortez, Colorado. Thursday, August 13, 3-4 p.m. Eastern. Register today for this FREE talk. http://bit.ly/1CV9aEN


Activity to explore community demographics - Use this exercise to help your coalition make a list of the diverse people and groups in your community. This list is helpful for recruitment and communications purposes, to help your efforts be inclusive.


Creative Placemaking - Volume 10, Issue 2, December 2014,

Topics of interest to this group include: Five Roles for Arts, Culture, and Design in Economic Development, Creative Placemaking: How to Do It Well, Measuring the Economic and Social Impacts of Cultural Organizations

In measuring the impact of cultural organizations, there are at least three possible types of impact that should be the focus of our efforts: their economic impact, their impact on wellbeing, and their impact on local social networks, Assessing a Set of Indicators for Creative Placemaking: Reflections From the Field, and Financing Creative Places.  Source: San Francisco Federal Reserve


Title VI Requirements for Rural Transit Webinar Offered by National RTAP
With various activities and responsibilities, rural transit providers have a unique role in the transit world.  To ensure rural providers understand their Title VI responsibilities, the National Rural Transit Assistance (RTAP)is offering a 101 webinar that will clarify the different Title VI Circular (PDF) requirements by going beyond the mere applicable requirements.  It will also address best practices and provide a Q&A to help providers seamlessly develop and implement a robust Title VI Program.  Register for free here.

Title VI is part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.  It applies to the activities and programs of both federal agencies and of recipients using federal funds to conduct programs and activities.  More details on Title VI are available from the U.S. Department of Justice by clicking here.

Though all the requirements will be discussed in relation to rural transit operation, some that will be specifically covered include:

  • Public      participation
  • Limited      English proficiency (LEP)
  • Siting/locating      of facilities

The webinar will occur July 29 from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. ET.  Jonathan Ocana of the Federal Transit Administration will present and answer questions in a live Q&A session.



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