SNAP

Fewer old hands on House ag panel to write new farm bill

With five dozen races still to be called, Republicans were ahead in House seats in Tuesday's general elections that also marked the departure of at least four long-time members of the committee. That means the House Agriculture Committee will be light on farm bill experience when it overhauls U.S. food and agriculture policy next year. 

Farm Bureau seeks ‘unified’ farm bill of agriculture and nutrition aid

The largest U.S. farm group believes “it makes perfect sense” to combine commodity supports and SNAP in the same piece of big-ticket legislation, said president Zippy Duvall in announcing the American Farm Bureau Federation’s farm bill priorities on Thursday. The AFBF called for higher subsidy rates, at a still-to-be-determined cost, and more emphasis of stewardship on working lands rather than long-term idling of cropland.

Food stamp fights are possible in 2023 farm bill, says Stabenow

Although lawmakers may try to cut SNAP benefits as part of the farm bill due in 2023, “we’re not going backwards,” said Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow at a food conference on Thursday. Deadline for the bill is Sept. 30, although “oftentimes there has to be an extension. So that may happen.”

At White House conference, Biden lays out plan to end hunger by 2030

America can end hunger by 2030 by fighting poverty, expanding access to healthy food, and reorienting healthcare toward preventing diet-related diseases, said President Biden on Wednesday. Framing the task in epic terms, he called on government and society to step up. “This could be a giant step,” he said. “This could remind us who the hell we are.” (No paywall)

To end hunger, White House backs more free school meals and healthier food choices

The Biden administration on Tuesday proposed panoramic action to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases by 2030, including a "pathway" to free school meals for all students, expansion of SNAP, development of front-of-package nutrition labels and a Medicare test of "food as medicine". The 44-page strategy was released ahead of the first White House hunger conference in half a century and when one in 10 American households was food insecure and millions of people suffered obesity and other diet-related illnesses.

Fights over SNAP are likely to delay farm bill

Farm bill veteran Colin Peterson, a former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, offered some firsthand advice on Monday for drafting the 2023 farm bill: Make an agreement on SNAP the first order of business. But he doubts lawmakers will avoid the prolonged fights over public nutrition that derailed the 2014 and 2018 farm bills.

Food insecurity held steady overall in 2021, but decreased among families with children

About one in 10 American households was food insecure at some point in 2021, according to USDA data released on Wednesday — a slight, but not significant, decline from 2020 and 2019, when the rate was 10.5 percent. Food security among families with children improved in 2021, with 12.5 percent of households with kids food insecure, down from 14.8 percent in 2020.

U.S. should increase aid to farmers and food assistance programs — survey

More than 60 percent of consumers across the political spectrum support increasing government support for both farmers and food assistance as a response to inflation, according to a survey released last week by the University of Illinois. Liberals had the highest rates of support for both, with 90.2 percent supporting increased funding for food programs and 85.3 percent supporting increased funding for farmers, the Gardner Food and Agricultural Policy Survey found. Conservatives had lower levels of support for both, but 64.4 percent still supported increased funding for food programs and 66.4 percent, increased funding for farmers.

Report urges ‘radical systemic’ change in U.S. food and nutrition policy

With the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health weeks away, a broad group of advocates, academics and experts on Tuesday called for "radical systemic changes" in order to address food insecurity, diet-related disease and health inequities.(No paywall)

Ahead of White House hunger conference, groups argue for equity and a stronger safety net

More than 50 years ago, the Nixon administration convened a conference on food, nutrition, and health that set the course for America’s anti-hunger efforts in the coming decades. Now, as the Biden administration prepares for its sequel this September, anti-hunger groups, health advocates, farm groups, and others are trying to get their priorities onto the agenda.  (No paywall)

SNAP should look like WIC, says former agriculture secretary

The food stamp program is a buy "whatever you want to buy" program, including soft drinks, said former agriculture secretary Ann Veneman on Monday, while advocating that benefits be limited to nutritious foods. "What some of us have argued (is) that this food stamp program ought to look a lot more like the WIC program and truly be a nutrition program."

House conservatives’ proposal: Blow up the farm bill

Congress would dismember the farm bill if it adopted the ideas proposed by the conservative Republican Study Committee, whose membership includes four of every five Republicans in the House. In a budget package, the RSC said it would sever public nutrition programs from the farm bill, eradicate major farm supports and slash federal support of crop insurance.

USDA seeks more grocers for online SNAP sales

One in seven SNAP households buys groceries online, according to the USDA — phenomenal growth since the option first became available in New York State in spring 2019. Now, with online shopping offered in 49 states, the Agriculture Department is looking to flesh out the network of stores that offer digital sales to food stamp recipients.

DeLauro: We’re working on extending school nutrition waivers

While Republicans objected to the cost of public nutrition programs such as SNAP, the leader of the House Appropriations Committee said on Wednesday that “we will be doing something about extending the waivers of the school meals programs.” The waivers, a response to the pandemic that allows free meals for all public school students, are due to expire on June 30.

Inflation means longer lines at food banks

Americans are turning to food banks for help in the face of rising food, fuel, child care and housing costs, the chief executive of the Atlanta Community Food Bank told lawmakers on Tuesday. "Our distribution volumes are rising again" and now match the early months of the pandemic, when hunger was on the rise, said Kyle Waide, the chief executive.

SNAP costs too much, program needs revisions, say House Republicans

Warning that “pandemic aid is morphing into endemic aid,” the Republican leader on the House Agriculture Committee said on Wednesday that it was time to rein in food stamp spending. Other farm-state Republicans called for stricter eligibility rules as a way to push people into the workforce and said SNAP “promotes a perverse business of poverty.”

SNAP outlays to surge by 18 percent this year — CBO

Federal spending on food stamps will rise by $24 billion this fiscal year, largely due to USDA's recalculation of the cost of a nutritious diet, said the Congressional Budget Office in a budget outlook that makes projections about the state of the federal budget and economy through 2032. The 18 percent increase in outlays would boost the cost of SNAP to $159 billion. 

Biden pledges to ‘combat hunger and improve nutrition for every American’

In a White House video, President Biden said on Wednesday that the administration would “lay out our plan to combat hunger and improve nutrition for every American” at the hunger, nutrition, and health conference set for September. More than 10 percent of Americans were food insecure and hunger rates spiked during the early months of the pandemic.

White House to hold conference on ending hunger in America

With more than 38 million Americans food insecure, President Biden announced on Wednesday the White House will hold a conference on hunger and nutrition in September. It will be the first hunger conference since 1969 and would launch a national plan on ending hunger in the United States, said the White House.

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