Academy Letter to House Oversight Committee on Proposed Reorganization

June 27, 2018

The Honorable Trey Gowdy
Chairman
House Oversight Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Elijah Cummings
Ranking Member
House Oversight Committee
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Gowdy and Ranking Member Cummings:

The administration's recently proposed reorganization of federal agencies would harm nutrition assistance programs, food and nutrition research and the health care infrastructure that provides a safety net for our country's most vulnerable people populations and the evidence base to support good nutritional health. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asks the House Oversight Committee to reject the proposal and to continue the tradition of bipartisan support for these vital food, nutrition and health programs and services.

One of the proposed changes would consolidate federal nutrition assistance programs within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and rename HHS the U.S. Department of Health and Public Welfare. The proposal defines these nutrition assistance programs to include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children; the Child and Adult Food Care Program and the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program. Furthermore, the proposal would establish a new Council on Public Assistance to administer all federal benefit programs, with a specific focus on uniform work requirements.

This proposal lacks evidence to support such a consolidation while there is strong evidence to support the effectiveness of existing nutrition assistance program, which provide access to nutritious foods and evidence-based interventions to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Congress should reject a consolidation that would almost assuredly reduce access and worsen health outcomes.

Other proposed changes include consolidation of food safety programs, federal research programs and the U.S. Public Health Service Corps. Investment in public health infrastructure and food safety are critical to Americans' health and well-being. The Academy asks Congress to support nutrition and public health programs, as well as numerous other services where registered dietitian nutritionists are improving patients' health. Eliminating or underfunding nutrition programs will put at risk people’s access to nutritious food, which is critical to preventing and treating chronic disease.

The Academy appreciates recent bipartisan action in Congress to reject cuts in nutrition and public health programs in the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus legislation. We ask that the House Oversight Committee reject the administration's proposed reorganization recommendations, and instead recognize that these vital programs and services are important to keeping everyone in our nation healthy.

Sincerely,

Mary Russell, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND
President, 2018-2019