USDA climate funding targeted in debt-limit fight
The House Freedom Caucus called for the elimination of "billions (of dollars) of wasteful climate spending," — a category that would include $20 billion given to USDA conservation programs — as part of an agreement to raise the federal debt limit.
USDA proposes online shopping for WIC recipients
Four years after it launched a test of online grocery shopping for SNAP recipients — which rapidly expanded during the pandemic — the Agriculture Department proposed the same shopping flexibility for households enrolled in the WIC program. "We agree with WIC participants and stakeholders — online grocery shopping and ordering is essential for busy Americans," said Agriculture deputy undersecretary Stacy Dean, who oversees WIC and other public nutrition programs.
Pandemic ‘bump’ to WIC would become permanent in USDA plan
The Agriculture Department proposed an update to the WIC program on Thursday that would let participants buy three, or even four, times as many fruits and vegetables and would broaden the range of foods available through the program to reflect the diversity of the American diet. The expansion of fruit and vegetable allowances would increase WIC spending by 14 percent and require Congress to appropriate additional money to the $6 billion-a-year program.
On heels of White House hunger conference, ‘the hard work really begins’
Just over a week after the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, a group of policymakers and advocates outlined what it will take to make the Biden administration’s goal of ending hunger and reducing diet-related disease by 2030 a reality.
After a decade of decline, WIC participation rose during pandemic
The number of children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) increased by 8.7 percent during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Food Research & Action Center.
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)
USDA extends WIC waivers for infant formula to Dec. 31
With shortages continuing in parts of the country, the USDA extended on Tuesday a series of waivers that give WIC households additional options for buying infant formula. The waivers were set to expire on Sept. 30 but now would run through the end of the year.
House panel votes to expand child nutrition programs
More children would be eligible for free school meals and the WIC program would cover children up to age 6 under legislation approved on a party-line vote by the House Education and Labor Committee on Wednesday. While the bill’s Democratic sponsors claimed it will reduce child hunger, Republican Rep. Lisa McClain said it “is chock-full of new spending” when austerity is needed to dampen high inflation.
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."
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.
Formula supply will improve ‘in a matter of days,’ says FDA chief
U.S. infant formula makers are revving up production and the door is open to imported formula, so “we should see improvement in a matter of days” from shortages nationwide, FDA commissioner Robert Califf said Thursday on Capitol Hill. Califf also said he would strengthen food safety procedures at the agency, though key lawmakers argued he was not going far enough.
To fight shortage, Biden gives infant formula makers priority for materials
President Biden invoked his executive powers on Wednesday to give infant formula manufacturers first call on ingredients, and announced Operation Fly Formula, which would carry formula from overseas suppliers to the United States. Both steps were aimed at alleviating shortages that followed the shutdown of a large formula plant in Michigan, where FDA inspectors found bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
House to vote on infant formula shortage
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote this week on emergency legislation to relax some WIC regulations on infant formula, now in short supply, "so that we can get nutrition into the mouths of America's babies." Through WIC, the government buys about half of the infant formula sold in the country.
Covid-19 public health emergency extension keeps SNAP benefits boost in place
The Biden administration extended the Covid-19 public health emergency on Wednesday, keeping increased nutrition benefits for millions of families in place for the coming months.
SNAP enrollment up, costs down in 2023
Food stamp enrollment will remain high well into 2023 due to the lingering effects of the pandemic and its disruption of the U.S. economy, said the Agriculture Department in its proposed budget for the new fiscal year. It estimated an average 43.5 million people would receive food stamps during fiscal 2023, a 3 percent increase from this year.
Free school meals will end with the school year, lawmakers decide
Pandemic-fighting waivers that allow schools to serve meals for free to all students will expire on June 30, House and Senate appropriators agreed on Wednesday, despite a campaign to continue universal free meals in the upcoming 2022-23 school year. An anti-hunger advocate said that millions of children will “face a hunger cliff when they lose access to summer and school meals.”
USDA eases WIC rules during infant formula recall
With a massive recall of infant formula underway, the USDA encouraged state and tribal officials on Wednesday to ensure that WIC recipients could exchange their recalled baby formula and use their WIC benefits to buy replacement products. Abbott announced a recall of three of its formula brands last week.