Secretary Vilsack aims to transform the food system to better address food insecurity, nutrition security

Expanding food and nutrition programs is a top priority for Democrats in Washington DC.

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is looking to transform the food system to address not only food insecurity but also nutrition security. He says that the first step is to modernize food assistance programs and make them more convenient for users.

According to Secretary Vilsack, “It means significantly expanding access and participation in the programs. The fact is, our WIC program-- nearly 50 percent of those who are eligible for WIC program are currently not participating in WIC, and the reality is that many states don’t necessarily do the job of educating people in the SNAP program about the benefits of SNAP and the availability of SNAP.”

Another goal is to expand the availability and consumption of healthy foods that can improve health.

“We know that disproportionately the issues of food security and nutrition security bear more heavily on people of color, oftentimes they find themselves in remote, rural areas or urban areas that are not serviced by full scale grocery stores,” he explains.

Vilsack also plans to better utilize USDA’s education and outreach programs to help encourage healthy habits.

“The dietary guidelines, MyPlate, and other methods to utilize ways in which we can get information out to people so that as they make food choices in home or outside the home, they make the healthy choice,” the Secretary adds.

Using lessons learned from the pandemic, he hopes to improve the resiliency of the food supply by supporting food banks.

“That means making sure that our food banks, our pantries are well equipped to handle a surge, are well equipped to be able to store and refrigerate perishable items so we have the opportunity to make the shift so we don’t see what we saw in this pandemic which was the destruction and dumping of food,” he explains.

USDA has also extended the Farmers-To-Families Food Box program through April, while it considers how to make it more cost effective in the long run.


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