Statement attributed to Luis Guardia, president, Food Research & Action Center
WASHINGTON, December 9, 2020 —The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), congratulates Tom Vilsack on his nomination as Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the Biden-Harris Administration. Secretary Vilsack, who was awarded FRAC’s 2016 Distinguished Service Award for his longstanding and influential service in improving access and nutrition quality in the child nutrition programs, will reprise his role from the Obama Administration, serving as an experienced leader who can take swift, much-needed action to advance programs and policies to end hunger in America.
Throughout the pandemic, FRAC and anti-hunger advocates across the country have urged USDA to act on its authority to eradicate hunger. Although USDA has extended waivers and flexibilities for child nutrition programs and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more needs to be done to address the alarming spikes in hunger exacerbated by COVID-19. With Vilsack’s solid experience at USDA and knowledge of the federal nutrition programs, the country can quickly implement a more comprehensive response to the hunger crisis.
FRAC has released immediate and long-term priorities for the new administration that include ramping up access to the federal nutrition programs — such as SNAP, the child nutrition programs, and WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children). Economists have long agreed that SNAP is one of America’s strongest countercyclical tools. Each $1 in SNAP benefits during an economic downturn generates between $1.50 and $1.80 in economic activity. SNAP is a public-private partnership that uses regular rails of commerce for purchasing food from retailers with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. It promotes efficient and dignified pathways for participants to access food. And child nutrition programs are critical to supporting the health and development of millions of children.
We look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack and the Biden-Harris Administration to begin implementing these priorities and strengthening federal nutrition programs so that no family experiences hunger.
In the meantime, we continue to urge Congress to immediately pass a comprehensive COVID-19 recovery package that addresses the ongoing economic fallout from the pandemic. With every day that Congress fails to act, more and more children, adults, and families miss out on the nutrition they need for their health and well-being.
For 50 years, the Food Research & Action Center has been the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.