Academy Priorities for the 2018 Farm Bill:
Promoting Healthy People, Healthful Food Systems and a Strong Economy
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is committed to improving the health of Americans by ensuring access to a nourishing, safe and affordable food supply. The Academy is also committed to ensuring that quality nutrition services and nutrition education are integral components of nutrition assistance programs. The Academy offers the following recommendations to build upon and strengthen existing Farm Bill programs; increase access to affordable, nutritious food, especially for those most in need; and improve the demand and marketplace for a diversity of foods that contribute to health and food security.
The Academy's guiding principle is our commitment to improving health for all, especially those most susceptible to and that experience food insecurity, and is the basis for our recommendations.
1. Empower Consumers – Drive Demand Toward Healthful Foods and Reduce Food Waste
Nutrition education programs authorized in the Farm Bill are tailored to participants' education levels and lifestyles to help them make lifelong healthful behavior changes.
The Academy supports:
- Provision of sufficient funding for effective and innovative nutrition education programs and initiatives authorized in the Farm Bill Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program.
- Identification of opportunities to ensure program effectiveness and efficiencies in public nutrition education and assistance programs to promote positive consumer behavior change.
- Initiatives to reduce consumer food waste.
- Provide support for necessary leadership within the USDA and specifically in the regional offices on nutrition and nutrition education.
2. Ensure Sound Science and Program Evaluation for Future Evidenced-Based Decision Making
A strong science portfolio informs development and enhancement of nutrition program content, and high-quality, systematic monitoring and evaluation provide guidance for structuring and strengthening consumer education implementation and delivery systems.
The Academy supports:
- Establishment of a consistent USDA funding authorization to accomplish the requirements in the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act.
- Provision of sufficient funding for the completion of the Pregnancy and Birth to 24 Months nutrition guidance project, as required in the Agricultural Act of 2014.
- Increased funding for vital primary agricultural and nutrition research: National Institute of Food and Agriculture including the 1) Agricultural and Food Research Initiative, 2) Agricultural Research Service Human Nutrition Research Centers and 3) maintain funding for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.
- Adequate evaluation funding and program expertise to examine ways to improve health outcomes related to nutrition status, such as SNAP benefit adequacy, SNAP disbursement frequency (i.e., weekly or bi-monthly), reduction of participant stigma in nutrition assistance programs and child nutrition programs, and improved nutritional health of SNAP recipients. These projects should adhere to rigorous study design and build on past research conducted by USDA and HHS.
- Continue to strengthen linkages to nutrition programming and nutrition education research through the Interagency Committee on Human Nutrition Research, as outlined in the National Nutrition Research Roadmap.
3. Support Innovative Nutrition Assistance Programs to Improve Access to Healthful, Affordable and Safe Foods
Domestic and International Nutrition Safety Nets Are Protected and Strengthened by Streamlining Administrative Requirements for All Nutrition Assistance Programs and Coordinating Healthful Food Production with Nutrition Assistance Programs.
The Academy supports:
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program:
- Maintain the current structure of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Academy would oppose any effort to change the structure of this program to shift to a state-based grant system, such as block grants, which would cap funding and limit the agility of the program to be responsive to fluctuating economic condition.
- Increase the SNAP benefit level to prevent hunger and provide resources to help families make healthful food choices.
- Update standards for SNAP retailers that increase the availability of healthful foods.
- Ensure final regulations lead to enhanced retail offerings to promote and sell healthy foods.
- Ensure adequate training and technical assistance are provided to assist transition to updated standards.
- Encourage coordination efforts with SNAP-Ed and CDC to assist retailers with strategies to improve healthier options and drive demand for these healthier options.
- Eliminate the requirement that basic allowance for housing for our military members be included in their income calculations to receive SNAP benefits.
Food Distribution Programs:
- Reauthorize the Commodity Supplemental Food Program to ensure that low-income seniors have access to nutritious monthly food packages and increase funding to provide an opportunity for the two remaining states (Alabama and Wyoming) to participate in the program.
- Maintain current funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program to ensure a steady flow of nutritious commodities through the emergency food system of charitable providers, such as food banks and pantries.
- Provide adequate funding authorization for transportation of TEFAP commodities.
- Continue support of projects to integrate more traditional foods and updates to distribution sites that allow the distribution of more fresh, frozen and perishable foods on Indian reservations and throughout the entire food distribution system.
- Maintain current funding and integrity of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program.
Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives grants:
- Maintain funding for the successful, research-based FINI grants, which provide financial incentives for families to purchase healthful foods. Through the grant process, place priority on those projects that:
- Seek to engage retailers of all sizes as active partners.
- Focus on the development of technology that could facilitate use of incentives in the retail setting.
- Encourage and prioritize coordination with nutrition education programming, such as SNAP-Ed and EFNEP.
- Encourage and provide technical assistance for projects with varying population densities and retail outlets.
4. Support the Food Supply Chain: Producers and Retailers That Create a Healthful and Safe Food System and Reduces Food Waste.
Support producers and retailers to meet demand for healthful foods.
The Academy supports:
- Funding and federal support for a variety of community-based and regional agriculture and food access initiatives that expand the availability of regionally-grown food, create jobs and promote economic development. Examples include Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Programs, Senior and WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, Community Food Projects and Value-Added Producer Grants.
- Farm practices and policies that conserve soil, water, air, habitat and biodiversity.
- Policies and programs to ensure the next generation of farmers have access to land, skills and incentives to grow healthful foods.
- Maintaining funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grants to support food safety and drive demand through education for specialty crops to increase dietary diversity as an aid to help people achieve the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
- Supply chain innovation for food retail outlets.
- Reduce the cost and administrative burden for farmers markets, farm stands, green cart, community-supported agriculture, small rural grocers and other non-traditional vendors and convenience stores to accept EBT and participate in Farmers Market Nutrition Programs
- Provide targeted solutions for communities living in food deserts.
- Reauthorize the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI), which will stimulate economic development, create jobs and improve health in low-income, underserved communities and communities of color in urban and rural areas by supporting farmers and healthy food retailers to improve access to nutritious, affordable food.
- Support nutrition assistance programs for populations that may need additional outreach and support.
- Continue to learn from and fund pilot projects that test innovative approaches to delivery of groceries, while ensuring client privacy is protected.
- Support community efforts to reach isolated older adults to provide healthful food options to help maintain their independence.
- Initiatives to reduce pre- and post-consumer food waste throughout the food system.
More information regarding the Academy's recommendations for the Farm Bill are available for download as PDFs.