Food Aid Organisations Providing Healthy Foods
In order that no child or family in the US goes hungry due to a lack of food in their cupboards, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides low-income families with not only access to food but also with information and education on a healthy diet.
About the programme
FNS programmes include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP) previously known as the Food Stamps Programme. SNAP provides benefits for eligible individuals and families to buy food necessities by means of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which can be used at most major grocery outlets. Not all foods are eligible for purchase through this programme, however the staples such as breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables and dairy products as well as fish, meat and poultry all qualify. As would be expected, beer and wine, non-food items and hot food or fast food are ineligible under the scheme. Contrary to popular belief, junk foods such as soft drinks, confections and savoury snacks are all eligible as they fall under the category of ‘any food or food product for home consumption’. In 2012 $74 billion of food aid was distributed domestically with nearly 48 million Americans receiving around $134 every month in food aid.
Help for women and children
Another FNS programme that provides food and nutrition is the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programme. This programme provides healthcare and nutrition for low-income pregnant women, women who are breast-feeding and children under the age of five. Applicants who qualify for assistance under this scheme receive; Supplemental Food; Infant Formula; Nutrition Education Classes; Access to Healthcare and other Social Services as well as Breast-feeding support. The food items provided, via EBT card, are those deemed healthful such as; juice, eggs, milk, cereal, cheese, fish, fruit and vegetables, whole wheat bread, brown rice, legumes and peanut butter. Other eligible items include; soy milk, tofu, and medically advised foods for children and sick mothers. Vegetables and grains are eligible, however potatoes were considered not nutritionally eligible under this scheme. The WIC programme currently provides for 53% of all infants who are born in the US.
Other FNS programmes include; School Meals (breakfast and lunch), Summer Food Service, Special Milk, Food for Indian Reservations, Child and Adult Care and Food Assistance for Disaster Relief amongst others. The aim of the FNS is to increase food security by providing access for low-income families and children, to nutritional food whilst supporting American agriculture. Their motto is that no American should go hungry.
The move towards not just providing food but healthy food, healthcare and the educational information that empowers people to take charge of their own food need circumstances is a welcome one that enables the attainment of real and measurable food poverty improvement objectives.