Statement attributed to Luis Guardia, president, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)
WASHINGTON, June 1, 2022 — The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) commends the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its plan to provide much-needed assistance to improve food access.
USDA’s Food System Transformation framework outlines investments across the supply chain, reinforcing the Biden administration’s deep commitment to addressing the health and hunger fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic by increasing investments in proven public programs that ensure households receive the nutrition they need.
The framework includes resources for making nutritious food more accessible and affordable for low-income households by:
- increasing funding to the Healthy Food Financing Initiative by $155 million to promote equity in food access in under-resourced areas;
- allocating an additional $50 million to the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program to increase senior access to locally grown fruit and vegetables;
- investing $60 million to leverage increased commodity purchases through Farm-to-School; and
- providing an additional $40 million in the GusNIP Produce Prescriptions Program to support projects that demonstrate and evaluate the impacts of fresh produce prescriptions to increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.
USDA will also contribute $100 million to create a new Healthy Food Incentive Fund for school meals, which will support school food authorities to innovate and accelerate their efforts to improve the nutritional quality of school meals.
School meals are a critical resource for struggling families who are being affected by the pandemic. FRAC’s latest report on school meal participation reveals that, of the 62 large districts surveyed in the United States, 98 percent identified supply chain disruptions and 95 percent identified labor shortages as challenges during the 2021-2022 school year. The challenges would be even greater if not for the nationwide child nutrition waivers that USDA has been able to offer to support school nutrition operations and access to school meals. USDA’s authority to issue these waivers is set to expire on June 30.
In order to support schools as they continue to grapple with supply chain disruptions, FRAC calls on Congress to give USDA the tools it needs to respond to the ongoing crisis created by the pandemic and extend USDA nationwide waiver authority through the 2022–2023 school year in the next legislative vehicle.
The Food Research & Action Center is 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.