USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) mission is to provide all eligible children, families, and low-income individuals with the nutrition assistance they need to help them get back on their feet. In order to accomplish this goal, we work with a vast network of partners who help us in the fight to end hunger. In particular, we are hoping to increase access to nutrition assistance in Hispanic communities through improved participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, our nation’s largest anti-hunger program.
In December, more than 120 Spanish-speaking community partners joined FNS as we hosted our very first all-Spanish webinar on the eligibility requirements for SNAP. In collaboration with USDA’s Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the webinar informed bilingual community leaders about SNAP policy, shared information about our work, resources, and tools that benefit Latino outreach, and answered questions regarding immigrants and SNAP eligibility.
The engaging dialogue illustrated our commitment to ensuring program access for all eligible people. Last year alone, USDA made historic strides as we: forged La Mesa Completa, an outgrowth of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s directive for a comprehensive Latino outreach plan for all FNS programs; launched MiPlato, the bilingual version of the new MyPlate food icon; and released our new online Spanish SNAP retailer locator.
Program access remains a priority because although 46 million people per month receive SNAP assistance, SNAP remains underutilized among millions of eligible but non-participating Latinos, seniors, veterans, and the working poor. In 2007, only 56% of eligible Latinos received SNAP, and the 6.6 million Latinos on the program in 2010 still reflected a low participation rate.
FNS’ mission is to provide all eligible children, families, and low-income individuals with the nutrition assistance they need. Every day, we work with numerous national, state and local partners to ensure that our programs continue to make the difference for the millions of people who are facing hunger around the nation.
Lisa Pino has served the SNAP program at the Food and Nutrition Service of USDA since her appointment in 2009, and is the first-generation daughter of immigrant parents.