Friday, March 8, 2013

Federal Food assistance across the nation continues to grow

Needs for more food programs is unfortunately growing due to underemployment and a growing senior population, Kevin Concannon, Undersecretary of Food Nutrition and Consumer Services with the US Department of Agriculture told the SA to DC attendees. He reported that in the last decade they have seen the number of people in the food stamp program increase because the number of people in households with depressed income has grown.

"We are asking what we can do to help support people staying in the workforce so this trend is reversed," Concannon said.

In their second largest program, the school meal programs, which provides 50 million children with food every day, about 23 percent of those students receive the meals free or at a reduced price. He said that in Texas the rate is higher.

One priority is to provide healthier foods for schools. Concannon said that changes were made to the school program to include more fruits and vegetables in the last two years. "The truth is that all of us eat too many processed foods around the country, and we believe the food program at schools is a good place to make positive changes." The agency is also making changes in school snacks because it regulates what is also in school vending machines.  and have taken steps to make those snacks healthier.

The agency has also begun to work with farmers markets to receive the food cards.
All of their programs cost 100 Billion each year, and

Summer feeding programs are critical for so many children who depend on the school lunch program. This is the time of year because they don't get the daily opportunity they have in schools. We have a summer feeding program that operated in local organizations like a boys and girls club or a church and we only serve a fraction of children that have the need. in Texas, we've seen when mayors take it on it brings public attention and helps with getting the message out to parents about how to get access.

When asked about sequestration, Concannon said that the food stamp and the school food programs are not affected because they are protected, however the Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) program, which provides nutrition assistance to low income mothers will be impacted.

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