Happy Birthday USDA!! We are 150 years strong, serving as federal department bettering the lives of the American people. For over 40 years USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has served as the federal agency in USDA that administers the Nation’s domestic nutrition assistance programs. Our 15 programs comprise the Nation’s food safety net, serving 1 in 4 Americans. They include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and The Emergency Food Assistance Program, among others.
Many of our programs were formed before FNS was even created as a separate agency in August 1969. SNAP took root in its modern form in 1961, but originated during the 1930’s Great Depression. It still remains the cornerstone of USDA’s nutrition assistance, issuing over $554 billion in program benefits since 1969. One of the biggest accomplishments SNAP can tout is the implementation of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards in 2004. EBT is an electronic system that allows recipients to transfer their government benefits from a federal account to a retailer account to pay for products received. EBT is used in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam.
The National School Lunch Program was also born in the 1930′s to better nourish low-income schoolchildren and has served over 169 billion meals to hungry kids. We made the first significant update to school meal standards in 15 years– a victory for our nation’s children. NSLP supports the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative and together we doubled the number of HealthierUS School Challenge schools to 1250 in 2011.
Nutrition education and outreach efforts to the underserved are top priorities in all FNS mission areas. By providing nutrition education, low-income individuals and families are better equipped to connect dietary choices and physical activity with overall wellbeing. To increase participation, FNS conducts outreach targeting eligible populations, such as Hispanics and the elderly.
Even 40+ years later, FNS is proud to be a part of USDA not only because we were able to complete final nutrition improvements—but because we believe in the mission and the people who work to accomplish it.