Statement of Tom Stenzel, President & CEO of United Fresh Produce Association on the Bipartisan Policy Center report, Leading with Nutrition: Leveraging Federal Programs for Better Health
“The Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) new report is a critically important step forward to advance the conversation about how to maximize nutrition and healthy eating in the nation’s primary feeding program, the Supplemental Nutrition and Access Program (SNAP). The BPC Task Force is to be commended for its clear linkage that healthy eating among SNAP recipients will have a direct positive impact on health outcome and reduce national healthcare costs.
SNAP serves over 40 million individuals annually, nearly half of those children, and is important in reducing hunger and food insecurity. But the BPC report highlights a pressing need for SNAP to focus more on health and nutrition to better serve its beneficiaries. The report includes a number of policy recommendations to boost healthy eating among SNAP recipients, including important incentives to consume more fruits and vegetables. Only one in 10 Americans eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, with consumption even lower for those living in poverty.
In the last decade, the federal government has made significant strides to better align feeding programs with sound nutrition, including adding fruit and vegetable vouchers to the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) food package, and clearly linking early childcare, school breakfast and lunch programs to reflect the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It is now time for a serious discussion about how SNAP can be modernized to reflect the nutritional needs and health realities of SNAP recipients.
United Fresh Produce Association has long worked to ensure that the nation’s feeding programs are nutrition-focused and that its beneficiaries have access to fruits and vegetables through policies like the Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program in SNAP, the cash value voucher (CVV) for fruits and vegetables in WIC, and programs including the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable (FFVP) and minimum serving requirements in child nutrition programs. We stand ready to work with policymakers to ensure that the SNAP program begins to reflect these same health priorities to better serve its recipients’ health outcomes and reduce ever-increasing national healthcare costs.”