Investing in “nutrition security” benefits the nation’s health, economy, and supply chain security
The Bipartisan Policy Center has released the first of three reports addressing ways to improve food security. Here are their recommendations.
A nutrition task force made up of eighteen food and ag leaders is offering nine short and long-term policy changes for USDA’s food programs.
Former Secretary of Ag Ann Veneman says that the administration should build on progress made during the pandemic.
“I want to emphasize that we are focusing not only on access to food, but food to improve the diets of not only recipients of federal feeding programs but the population at large,” Veneman states. “So, recommendations address both food and nutrition insecurity.”
Current Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack was on hand to react to some of the suggestions, including one to extend flexibility and waivers for food programs even after the pandemic. He says that flexibility has been key for reopening schools.
“We’ve also extended these waivers in a way to refocus our nutrition standards and encourage schools to serve the highest quality meals possible, with addition resources that they now have available, while at the same time recognizing the need for some appropriate flexibility as we continue to deal with pandemic related supply issues, and school nutrition professionals readjusting their operations as well,” according to the Secretary.
Another recommendation called for an update to the Thrifty Food Plan and SNAP, which has already been announced by USDA: “I was pleased to see the task force support for the modernized Thrifty Food Plan. The modernized Thrifty Food Plan is an investment in our nation’s health, economy, and security, ensuring low income families have access to healthy diet helps prevent disease, supports our children in classrooms across America, and reduces healthcare costs and does much, much more.”
Several of the recommendations also address the quality and nutrition of food aid, an issue the group calls “nutritional security.”
“USDA’s core nutrition programs are the most far reaching, powerful tools available to ensure that all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or background have access to healthy, affordable food. We’re committed to building onto these programs, making strategic investments to ensure a food system that is fair, equitable, affordable, and beneficial to all,” Vilsack adds.
The task force is also calling on the White House to host a conference on food, nutrition, hunger, and health in early 2022.