As the Federal agency responsible for carrying out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s mission, we are constantly taking actions to improve program integrity. In 2012, we enacted tougher financial sanctions to punish those who abuse the program; sent letters to the CEOs of Ebay, Facebook, Twitter and Craigslist to engage their help in preventing the sale or purchase of SNAP benefits online; and began requiring increased documentation for high-risk stores applying to redeem SNAP benefits. Last year, the program reached a record level of payment accuracy, and fraud has been reduced to the lowest rate in the history of the program. In 2013, we expect to do even more to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used wisely.
But spending taxpayer dollars with integrity also means ensuring that the benefits provided through SNAP are actually able to do what they’re intended to do—provide healthy food to families. While the program has a strong track record of success, its size and reach underscore the importance of periodic review to ensure that the resources it provides accurately reflect the real-world circumstances in which SNAP households find themselves today; circumstances that directly affect their ability to make healthy food choices within a limited budget. Read more »
It’s been two years since President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law. The Act cleared the way for historic improvements to the child nutrition programs, such as school lunch and school breakfast, that serve millions of our nation’s children. We’ve already implemented many provisions of the Act, with many schools reporting success in meeting the new standards, and students finding the new school meals to be an improvement from the status quo. This coming year will be a busy one as we continue to make program updates that help us fight both child hunger and obesity.
Because of the Act, we’ve been able to improve standards for the content of school lunches—and soon school breakfasts— making them healthier than ever before. However, I know implementation is a process that takes time, and as the school year progresses we will continue listening and providing additional education, technical assistance, and flexibilities where appropriate. Throughout this first year, we are closely monitoring implementation and adapting the support we provide to States and schools based on challenges that arise.
We also made the first real reimbursement rate increase for those meals in 30 years to help schools adjust to the changes. Because we know how influential the school environment can be when it comes to encouraging kids to make healthy choices, USDA will propose new standards for other foods sold in schools including in vending machines. Read more »
The new nutrition standards established by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act at the US Department of Agriculture represent an important step in America’s fight against childhood obesity and will help promote healthy eating habits for youth in our nation’s schools. These standards promote a balanced diet of additional fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins, and whole grains, while eating less sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.
Allyson Felix, member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition and three-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist in track and field, tells us how good nutrition has improved her health and gives her the energy she needs to perform like a champion:
“In the morning before I lace up my running shoes, grab my workout bag and head out the door to the track, I always have my go-to breakfast of oatmeal, fresh fruit and a tall glass of water. It’s an absolute must to fuel my body for the work day I have in front of me. I may have a unique job as a professional track and field athlete; however my day is not unlike most. I’m up early rushing between workouts, meetings, events, and additional training sessions and functions in the afternoon and evening. Trying to keep pace with the days demands can be challenging, but giving my body the proper nutrition it needs allows me to maintain my energy and perform at a high level. Read more »
US Kevin Concannon and Miami-Dade County School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho talk with students from North Beach Elementary School, Miami, FL, on August 23, 2012, during lunch. (USDA photo by Debbie Smoot).
I recently had the pleasure of visiting North Beach Elementary School in Miami to recognize 177 schools in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools District for their efforts to promote good nutrition and physical activity to their students. All 177 schools achieved Bronze Awards in the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). Miami-Dade now has the honor of having the second largest number of HUSSC awards in any one school district in the entire nation. Read more »
Undersecretary Kevin Concannon meets with Sisters of the Holy Family, an order of nuns based in New Orleans.
When a newspaper reporter asked me recently, “What can I tell our readers about the USDA programs,” I told her: “Most of what USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service does is through others.”
As I travel throughout the country, I see how different organizations come together to carry out our mission of putting food on the table for those in need. In concert with FNS’ 15 nutrition assistance programs, hundreds of organizations are working hard every day to create the safety net against hunger that protects Americans. Without fanfare and with little public notice, coalitions of non-profits, religious organizations and groups of volunteers are often the first line of defense against hunger. Read more »
Lori Cook, aka TV-personality “Maranda,” interviewed me about the importance of the Summer Food Service Program.
Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation, and the State of Michigan is making sure that nutrition assistance programs don’t either. I recently traveled to the west side of the state to see some of the inspiring work our partners are doing to make sure that no one in their community has to face hunger. Read more »