Remarkably, only one in 10 Americans meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption. Federal nutrition programs – which have broad reach across every state and community – play a pivotal role in helping Americans achieve the goal of making half their plate fruits and vegetables.
The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted our country’s underlying health crisis due to poor nutrition. Those with diet-related chronic disease who contract COVID are twice as likely to be hospitalized and have an astounding 50% increased likelihood of dying. The immediate crisis of increased risk from communicable disease must lead Congress and Administration to aggressively prioritize dietary quality for all Americans.
2021 Action Plan
- Support students’ access to healthy and nutritious school meals, including a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables through Child Nutrition Reauthorization.
- Permanently increase the Cash Value Benefit for fruits and vegetables in WIC.
- Secure a permanent place for fresh produce in USDA’s purchasing and distribution programs for those in need, modeled off the successful components of the Farmers to Families program.
- Create a new urgency to revamp federal feeding programs such as SNAP to focus on dietary quality. Ensure all federal nutrition programs align with the government’s own fruit and vegetable serving recommendations as included in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization
The Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill (CNR) sets policy framework for the nation’s school breakfast and lunch programs, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), summer meals, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, and more.
We urge Congress to:
- Expand the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) to all elementary schools that qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision.
- Apply a Cash Value Benefit for fruits and vegetables to Summer and Pandemic EBT (all EBT for kids).
- Allow schools and other sites that participate in existing USDA child nutrition programs to distribute USDA Emergency foods.
- Ensure all children can access healthy meals at no charge to the student.
- Expand WIC benefits to age 6.
- Make USDA School Kitchen Equipment Grants permanent.
Women, Infant and Children's Program (WIC)
More than 7 million low-income pregnant or breastfeeding women, their infants and young children participate in WIC, which provides a targeted food package, including a Cash Value Benefit to spend on fruits and vegetables of their choice.
We urge Congress to:
- Provide adequate funding to maintain the increased benefit amount for fruits and vegetables.
We urge USDA to:
- Permanently increase the Cash Value Benefit for fruits and vegetables to the levels consistent with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the 2017 recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
SNAP represents the nation’s largest nutrition safety net program, providing nearly 40 million Americans – about half of whom are children – with benefits to purchase food and beverages.
We urge Congress to:
- Make dietary quality a core SNAP objective.
- Invest and implement strategies to increase access to fruits and vegetables, including a Cash Value Benefit participants can spend on teh fruits and vegetables of their choice.
Fresh Produce in Federal Purchasing Programs
Each year, USDA purchases billions of dollars worth of food to distribute to schools and food banks across the country. While fresh produce purchases have improved over time, fresh vegetables and fruits still represent a small portion of USDA procurement.
We urge Congress and USDA to:
- Allocate a greater portion of USDA Foods purchases to fresh fruits and vegetables, modeled off the successful components of the Farmers to Families program
- Expand entities eligible to distribute USDA emergency foods, including schools and nonprofits that participate in other USDA feeding programs.
Letters & Comments
- July 23, 2020 | United Fresh Letter to USDA on 2020-2021 School Meals
- July 13, 2020 | United Fresh Comments on School Food Purchase Study
- To view USDA’s response to our letter on July 13, click here.
- April 22, 2020 | United Fresh Comments on School Meals Proposed Rule
- June 4, 2019 | United Fresh Comments on Regulatory Flexibility in SNAP Proposed Rule
- September 23, 2019 | United Fresh Comments on Categorical Eligibility in SNAP
- October 11, 2018 | Comments on FDA’s Comprehensive, Multi-Year Nutrition Innovation Strategy
- March 30, 2018 | United Fresh Produce Association Comments on Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- February 12, 2018 | United Fresh Comments on Food Crediting in Nutrition Programs
State Profiles of Produce Across America
Take Action On This Issue!Grassroots Action Network
To learn more about nutrition policy please contact Mollie Van Lieu, Senior Director, Nutrition Policy.