BOX 6-1

US Nutrition Programs That Can Promote Healthier Eating

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service oversees feeding programs with a collective annual budget of more than $80 billion. They include the following:

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) provides funds to about 35 million people each month via an EBT (electronic benefit transfer) card that can be used to purchase food at most grocery stores and some other food stores and markets.

  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, better known as the WIC Program, provides assistance to low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by supplying vouchers for the purchase of nutritious foods to supplement their diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.

  • The National School Lunch Program provides cash subsidies and donated commodities to school districts and independent schools that choose to take part in the program. In return, they must serve lunches that meet federal requirements, and they must offer free or reduced-price lunches to eligible children.

  • The School Breakfast Program operates in the same manner as the National School Lunch Program.

  • The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program provides free fresh fruits and vegetables in selected low-income elementary schools nationwide.

  • The Summer Food Service Program provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to help children in low-income areas get the nutrition they need throughout the summer months when they are out of school.

  • The Child and Adult Care Food Program is a nutrition education and meal reimbursement program helping providers serve nutritious and safely prepared meals and snacks to children and adults in day care settings.

  • The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides fresh fruits and vegetables from local, certified farmers’ markets to WIC recipients.

  • The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program awards grants to states, US territories, and federally recognized Indian tribal governments to provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers’ markets, at roadside stands, and from community-supported agriculture programs.

  • The Emergency Food Assistance Program makes commodity foods available to states. States provide the food to local agencies, usually food banks, which in turn distribute it to soup kitchens and food pantries that directly serve the public.

SOURCE: USDA Food and Nutrition Service, Programs and Services.

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