Bipartisan Farm Bill Protects SNAP, but Falls Short on Nutrition
Statement of CSPI Vice President for Nutrition Margo G. Wootan
The Center for Science in the Public Interest applauds Congress for putting forward a bipartisan Farm Bill that preserves access to and funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for the more than 40 million low-income American families who rely on it.
The Farm Bill provides permanent funding for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant program, which boosts fruit and vegetable consumption for SNAP participants through incentives, and for the first time provides funding for a pilot program to encourage health care providers to prescribe fresh fruit and vegetables.
Despite efforts from the House, the final bill protects child nutrition programs including school meals, snacks, and beverages for the 30 million schoolchildren who rely on them, as well as the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which helps more than four million young students in 7,600 of our nation’s lowest-income elementary schools
In addition, the bill protects SNAP Nutrition Education, which is the largest source of federal funding for evidence-based nutrition programs. We are also pleased that the bill updates the value of the Thrifty Food Plan, which forms the basis of SNAP allotments and can help show how minimal-cost meal plans support a nutritious diet.
We recognize the hard work that went into the months-long negotiations that ultimately rejected the mean-spirited attacks on low-income families supported by House Republicans and the Trump administration. While the bill includes some measures that support nutrition, we are disappointed that it does not do more. In particular, the bill lacks specific authorizations for research funding to pilot test evidence-based approaches that could boost healthy eating while maintaining access and limiting stigma for SNAP participants. Other CSPI recommendations that did not make it into the final bill were to add diet quality as an additional core objective for SNAP and to improve and make publicly available SNAP retailer data to better inform public health interventions.