Nutrition and Health
76% of total Farm Bill spending is earmarked for the Nutrition Title, which provides monies for emergency food assistance, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps), the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and food banks.Though the nutrition title has always been the largest piece of the Farm Bill pie, it has rapidly expanded in the past two years due to tough economic times and rising food costs. A record 43 million Americans now receive SNAP benefits. SNAP is instrumental in improving low-income community members’ food security, but isn’t that effective in ensuring that recipients have fresh, nutritious food.
There are existing programs that are dedicated to improving access to fresh, minimally processed foods and produce, but their scope and funding are limited; we need to advocate for their expansion! Some examples are: The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which provides coupons for low-income seniors and WIC recipients to use at Farmer’s Markets; the Healthy Incentives Pilot program (HIP), that provides an additional 30 cents in SNAP benefits for every dollar spent on fruits and vegetables; a pilot project for purchasing and using whole grains and whole-grain products in school meal programs (frozen whole wheat tortillas and pancakes were served in selected school districts, then their impact was evaluated); and matching federal funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education Program, (SNAP-ED).
More Food for Thought
FARM BILL 1.06 What You Need to Know about Food Stamps and the 2012 Farm Bill (Michael Crupain with Ed Yowell, NYC Food Systems Network, August 2011) An excellent overview of SNAP, health implications, and how recent budget decisions will impact the Nutrition Title in the 2012 Farm Bill. If you follow one link among the ones listed on this page, make it this one!
No Surprise: Meat Is Bad for You (Mark Bittman, NY Times Online, March 16, 2012)
SNAP to Health: Strengthening Nutrition in the Federal Food Stamp Program (Susan Blumenthal, M.D., Huffington Post, December 12, 2011). In 2011, SNAP participation was at its highest level since the program’s inception. A record 45.8 million people in the United States (more than 15 percent of the U.S. population) are currently enrolled in SNAP, a 38 percent increase since 2008. Nearly 50 percent of those beneficiaries are children.
Do Farm Subsidies Cause Obesity? (Food and Water Watch and the Public Health Institute, October, 2011) This paper concludes that the public health and health care communities and the family farm community need to advocate for comprehensive commodity policy reform that reduces overproduction and stabilizes price and supply, as well as policies and programs that expand access to healthy food in rural and urban communities. Advocating for subsidy removal as a means to combat the over-consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages is an ineffective obesity prevention strategy, as subsidy removal will not affect the price or production of these products. The paper’s recommendations focus on the need for commodity policy reform and on ensuring that agricultural policies promote healthier options.
A Compilation of Commentaries/Resources on Farm Bill and Health as of September 2, 2011 (Ana Garcia, MPA, Senior Policy Associate, The New York Academy of Medicine)
Geographic Differences in Relative Price of Healthy Foods (USDA Economic Research Service, 2011)
F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2011, a report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Twelve states now have obesity rates above 30 percent. Four years ago, only one state was above 30 percent. To read the whole report, click here.
FARM BILL 1.04: School Lunches and the Farm Bill (Travis Hobart, MD, with Fern Gale Estrow, Sheilah Davidson, Thomas Forster, and Ed Yowell, NYC Food Systems Network, June 2011)
Food Access and Food Security – An Empirical Analysis (Alessandro Bonanno and Jing Li, Penn State University, prepared for presentation at the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association’s Annual meeting, 2011)
A partial list of Farms and their contact info, that use subsidies to make CSAs available to low-income participants (compiled by Liz Snyder, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County, June, 2011)
Good Food For All (Food and Water Watch, March, 2011) How the Farm Bill Can Make Sure Everyone has Access to Healthy Food.
State still seeks winning strategy against childhood obesity (Maureen O’Hagan, Seattle Times, June 11, 2011) Despite efforts in Washington state to help establish lifelong healthful eating habits, the number of overweight and obese kids continues to climb.
Kids battle the lure of junk food (Maureen O’Hagan, Seattle Times, June 11, 2011) Right now, leaders here are trying hard to help. In the past decade, local agencies have been awarded at least $43 million in grants to fight obesity — most of it in the past year.
Parents stand between kids and junk food (Maureen O’Hagan, Seattle Times, June 11, 2011) There’s the relentless voice that tells parents their kids are overweight, and the one that wants to protect them from the truth; the voice that makes them feel guilty when they let their kids have a treat and guilty when they say no; the one berating them to do more, and the one nagging at them — as they see a world of hurt in their children’s eyes — that nothing they could say seems right.
How to help your kids lose weight healthfully (Maureen O’Hagan, Seattle Times, June 11, 2011) Tips from experts for helping kids maintain a healthy weight.
Farm Who? – A radio story about the Farm Bill and nutrition by UW Bothell students (mp3, 11:55 min, 12.9 mb)
Dietary Guidelines for Americans (US Department of Agriculture, 2011)
The federal government’s evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity, i.e., How we SHOULD eat (The study was financed through the Farm Bill).
Understanding the Farm Bill: What’s SNAP Got to Do With It? (Ann Butkowski, 2010)
Detangling the Farm Bill (3): What’s eating all the money? (Amelia Swinton, Lettuce Link, 2011)
The Farm Bill: Searching for Common Ground (Jill Kreuger, Policy Health Law Network, 2010)
USDA Foods Available for School Year 2011- Schools and Institutions. (USDA, 2011)
The main page is Food Distribution Programs. A worthwhile read: While ketchup is not a vegetable, fresh food choices are very limited.
The Food Movement, Rising (Michael Pollan, 2010)
An Examination of the Federal Menu Label Law (Kala Mayer, 2010)
Better Food Starts with the Farm Bill (Food & Water Watch, 2010)
2008 Farm Bill Side-by-Side: Title IV, Nutrition (Economic Research Service, USDA)
A Fair Farm Bill for Public Health (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, 2007)
The Farm Bill and Your Health (Food and Water Watch, 2007)
You Are What You Grow (Michael Pollan, 2007) On Obesity and The Farm Bill.