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Release No.
FNS-0007.13

Contact:
FNS Office of Communications and Governmental Affairs (703) 305-2281

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2013 – The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increases the likelihood that recipients will eat whole fruit, and leads to a modest decrease in the consumption of dark green and orange vegetables. Overall, the diets of participants and low-income non-participants are similar, according to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Participation Leads to Modest Changes in Diet Quality  , a report released today by USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Program participants were 23 percentage points more likely to consume whole fruit when they receive SNAP benefits than when they do not. The study’s finding on SNAP participants’ modest declines in consumption of dark green and orange vegetables may be related to time constraints of the working poor, and the preparation time required to consume those foods. While the study found that the diets of SNAP participants are similar overall to those of low-income non-participants, it found that the participants are more likely to consume less sodium and saturated fat.

“All Americans, SNAP participants and non-participants alike, have work to do when it comes to eating a healthy diet,” said Agriculture Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon. “The results of this study reinforce the critical role of USDA programs designed to increase access to healthy foods and nutrition education among low-income children and families to help make the healthy choice, an easy choice.”

USDA is focused on improving nutrition and empowering low-income families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food through its nutrition assistance programs.

  • USDA provides shopping strategies and meal planning advice to help families serve more nutritious meals affordably through its 10-Tips Nutrition Series and the Thrifty Food Plan.
  • USDA is making fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible for low-income families. More than 3,200 farmers markets and farm stands are now authorized to accept payment through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), an increase of nearly 100 percent since 2010.
  • USDA recently expanded the scope of SNAP-Ed to include targeted nutrition education and obesity prevention activities for SNAP recipients and other low-income individuals.
  • USDA is conducting pilot projects to identify effective strategies for encouraging healthy food consumption among SNAP recipients.
  • USDA's MyPlate symbol and the resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.
  • USDA also created SuperTracker, a free online planning and tracking tool used by over two million Americans daily to help them improve food choices, maintain a healthy weight, and track physical activity.

Improving the diets of participants is a key focus of USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year.  Together these programs make up the federal nutrition safety net. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.

 

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

Release No.
0063.13

Contact:
Contact: USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

WEST HARTFORD, Conn., April 5, 2013 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today discussed USDA efforts to improve school meals and outlined the need for a renewed commitment to improve childhood nutrition, which will lead to a healthier generation of Americans.

In remarks at Henry A. Wolcott Elementary School, Vilsack noted that America's students now have healthier and more nutritious school meals due to improved nutrition standards implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The new standards ensure that the 32 million students who participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program have access to meals that contain fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and are limited in fat, sodium and sugar.

"For many kids, including 300,000 children who eat school lunch here in Connecticut, healthy meals at school are vital to growing up healthy and strong," said Vilsack. "When children are given the tools they need to make healthy food choices it sets them up to do better in school, while creating generational change that will lead to a healthier Nation."

Secretary Vilsack noted the twin threats of childhood obesity and malnutrition to a healthier next generation. Over the course of the past 30 years, the prevalence of childhood obesity has nearly tripled. Nearly one in three American children and adolescents today are overweight or obese. Some of those children come from low-income families, where access to healthy food choices and opportunities for physical activity can be limited. Nearly a third of our nation's young people are at risk for preventable diseases like type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Preventable diseases have serious consequences - which is why health experts tell us that our current generation of children may well have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Vilsack said that USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food.

  • USDA recently issued a proposed rule to improve the health of snacks sold in schools. The public is invited to comment at regulations.gov through Tuesday, April 9, 2013.
  • USDA's MyPlate symbol and the resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.
  • USDA also created SuperTracker, a free online planning and tracking tool used by over two million Americans daily to help them improve food choices, maintain a healthy weight, and track physical activity.
  • USDA provides shopping strategies and meal planning advice to help families serve more nutritious meals affordably through its 10-Tips Nutrition Series and the Thrifty Food Plan.
  • Through USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, the Department has worked to increase access to nutritious food through the development of strong local and regional food systems. The number of farmers markets increased by more than 67 percent in the last four years and there are now more than 220 regional food hubs in operation around the country.
  • USDA launched a new $5 million Farm to School grant program in 2012 to increase the amount of healthy, local food in schools. This includes a $98,000 Farm to School grant in Connecticut.

Vilsack noted that USDA continues working with First Lady Michelle Obama on the Let's Move! initiative, which is helping to promote healthy eating and physical activity while supporting the health of American families. Through the combined efforts of USDA and its partners, the United States is beginning to see progress and improvements in the health of our Nation's children.

 

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD)or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).

Release No.
0068.13

Contact:
Contact: USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today called on communities across the country to partner with USDA's summer meals program to ensure that no child goes hungry when school is out. During a roundtable with Josh Wachs, Chief Strategy Officer for Share Our Strength, Kathy Underhill, Executive Director of Hunger Free Colorado, and Harriett Phillips, Liaison to the Arkansas No Kid Hungry Campaign for Governor Mike Beebe. Vilsack reiterated the vital role of partners in reaching eligible children and their families and challenged them to help USDA serve 5 million more meals this summer.

"Children need healthy food all year long to grow and achieve to their highest ambitions. We know that when school lets out, millions of low-income children no longer get a healthy breakfast or lunch. USDA's summer meals program helps to fill that gap and is an invaluable investment in the future of America's children," said Vilsack. "Today, I challenge our partners and communities across the nation to work with us to ensure that all children have access to healthy food during the summer months."

In order to reach more eligible children, USDA is providing intensive technical assistance to expand the reach of the program in five states with high levels of rural or urban food insecurity or historically low program participation rates, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Rhode Island and Virginia. Arkansas, Colorado and Virginia are also states targeted by USDA's StrikeForce, an initiative designed to improve the quality of life and boost economic growth in high poverty rural areas.

"Poor nutrition during summer months sets up a cycle of poor performance once school begins again and makes children – especially those who experience poverty or food insecurity – more prone to illness and other health issues," said Vilsack. "I am proud to say that our Nation's communities are working hard to make sure every child has the food they need all year long."

USDA's summer meals programs operate through partnerships between USDA, state agencies and local organizations. Local sponsors, such as schools, local government agencies, faith-based and nonprofit community organizations, and residential and non-residential camps provide free meals and activities to eligible low-income children during the summer months. In 2012, USDA's partners served 144 million summer meals at 38,800 sites, feeding approximately 2.3 million children on a typical summer day. For more information on becoming a SFSP sponsor or site, visit /sfsp/summer-food-service-program-sfsp. To find a site in your community, call 1-866-3-Hungry or 1-877-8-Hambre.

USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food.

  • America's students now have healthier and more nutritious school meals due to improved nutrition standards implemented as a result of the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
  • USDA is making fresh fruits and vegetables more accessible for low-income families. More than 3,200 farmers markets and farm stands are now authorized to accept payment through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), an increase of nearly 100 percent since 2010.
  • USDA's MyPlate symbol and the resources at ChooseMyPlate.gov provide quick, easy reference tools for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and communities.
  • USDA also created SuperTracker, a free online planning and tracking tool used by over two million Americans daily to help them improve food choices, maintain a healthy weight, and track physical activity.
  • USDA provides shopping strategies and meal planning advice to help families serve more nutritious meals affordably through its 10-Tips Nutrition Series and the Thrifty Food Plan.
  • Through USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, the Department has worked to increase access to nutritious food through the development of strong local and regional food systems. The number of farmers markets increased by more than 67 percent in the last four years and there are now more than 220 regional food hubs in operation around the country.
  • USDA launched a new $5 million Farm to School grant program in 2012 to increase the amount of healthy, local food in schools.

USDA continues working with First Lady Michelle Obama on the Let's Move! initiative, which is helping to promote healthy eating and physical activity while supporting the health of American families. Through the combined efforts of USDA and its partners, the United States is beginning to see progress and improvements in the health of our Nation's children.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).