On July 18, HFHP staff attended a Capitol Hill briefing hosted by The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress on a new initiative, SNAP to Health: A Fresh Approach to Strengthening Nutrition in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The briefing brought together leading stakeholders in government, the food and agriculture sector, anti-hunger, nutrition, and public health to discuss the release of a series of policy recommendations to improve nutrition in SNAP. A copy of the report can be found here.
The discussion was led by Dr. Susan Blumenthal, the Director of the Health and Medicine Program at the CSPC and former Assistant Surgeon General of the United States. Dr. Blumenthal was joined by key legislators working on nutrition and anti-hunger programs, including Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). Also speaking at the briefing were leading members of the SNAP to Health project team. More detailed information on the briefing agenda and speaker biographies can be found on the website at www.snaptohealth.org.
According to the press release issued by CSPC, the report reflects a year-long effort to identify recommendations to help strengthen the nation’s dual challenge of food insecurity and obesity. The report underscores the ‘need to protect and enhance the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – currently a target of budget cut debates on Capitol Hill,’ including the protection of the SNAP budget, as well as ‘seven areas for potential program improvements, ranging from lowering the cost of healthy foods for SNAP participants and discouraging the purchase of high-calorie/low-nutrient foods to increasing the distribution frequency of SNAP benefits.’
The report also puts forward a menu of 10 policy recommendations, which can be found here. In summary, the recommendations include:
- Protect current funding levels for SNAP
- Collect data for SNAP purchases
- Identify a set of integrated strategies that would help align SNAP purchases with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Focus attention on children’s health in SNAP
- Use incentives to make fruits, vegetables, and whole grains the easy choice
- Establish stronger food stocking standards for SNAP retailers
- Provide states with flexibility to evaluate fresh approaches to SNAP
- Promote innovation in SNAP
- Create a partnership to move SNAP towards health
- Establish a national strategy of fresh approaches to strengthen SNAP
The discussion highlighted the challenges currently related to the SNAP program, including the current debate over funding levels, as well as the growing interest of many stakeholders to identify and strategies to improve nutrition outcomes among SNAP participants.