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Food and Nutrition

SNAP E&T Learning Academy Builds National Leadership for the Program

As the labor market continues to strengthen, so too are SNAP Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) programs across the country. Since 2014, FNS has diligently worked with states to grow their SNAP E&T programs and adopt more effective, employer-driven practices that help SNAP participants find not just any job—but a good job that reduces their need for SNAP.

These efforts have been successful. The program has grown to serve more than 1 million SNAP participants each year and more and more states are seeking best practices and expertise on how to build a quality program that gets people jobs. The demand for this program is growing—and rightly so—the SNAP E&T program is one of the strongest assets we have to ensure that every SNAP participant has the opportunity to gain the skills they need to find a good job.

The Cost of Raising a Child

USDA recently issued Expenditures on Children by Families, 2015. This report is also known as “The Cost of Raising a Child.” USDA has been tracking the cost of raising a child since 1960 and this analysis examines expenses by age of child, household income, budgetary component, and region of the country.

Based on the most recent data from the Consumer Expenditures Survey, in 2015, a family will spend approximately $12,980 annually per child in a middle-income ($59,200-$107,400), two-child, married-couple family. Middle-income, married-couple parents of a child born in 2015 may expect to spend $233,610 ($284,570 if projected inflation costs are factored in*) for food, shelter, and other necessities to raise a child through age 17. This does not include the cost of a college education.

A Farewell Message from Secretary Tom Vilsack to Employees

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent the following message to all USDA employees:

I want to take this opportunity on my final day at USDA to express my profound gratitude to the people who work at USDA. Every day, nearly 90,000 people leave their families and the comfort of their home to do the people's work in the People's Department. What an amazing job you do each day for the country.

Taste Test: Behind the Scenes with USDA Foods

The USDA Foods Available List is a lot like any other menu, with dozens of healthy options for state agencies to order and distribute through USDA’s nutrition assistance programs.  And every year, foods are added or removed from the list based on customer demand and market conditions. Some offerings are modified to improve nutrition content or make the product and its packaging easier to work with in the kitchen or more acceptable to kids.

The USDA Foods program is a collaboration between the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the agency that procures the food, and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), the agency that distributes the food. This school year, the USDA Foods team’s goal for training and conferences is to provide more opportunities to taste new and reformulated products. That way, state agencies can confidently order them and school districts can incorporate them into their menus.

Guia Del USDA Ayuda A Operadores De Tiendas Y Bodegas Ofrecer Productos Mas Saludables

Todos sabemos las recomendaciones de comidas saludables y  los consejos que ofrecen los expertos en cuanto a la buena salud. Pero el comer saludablemente no es tan fácil como simplemente seguir todo lo que oímos de los médicos y nutricionistas. A veces, el acceso a comidas saludables es limitado debido al vecindario donde uno se encuentra. Otras veces, no alcanza el dinero para las opciones de comidas más frescas o nutritivas. Y aun en otras ocasiones, el impedimento a alimentos saludables puede que sólo sea cuestión de saber dónde buscar en su tienda o bodega local.

Es ahí donde el Servicio de Alimentos y Nutrición (FNS, por sus siglas en inglés) del Departamento de Agricultura de EE.UU. está enfocándose -- mejorando los alimentos disponibles para aquellos que servimos, sin sacrificar la satisfacción al paladar. FNS es la agencia federal encargada de administrar el Programa de Asistencia de Nutrición Suplementaria (SNAP, por sus siglas en inglés; anteriormente conocido como el programa de cupones de alimentos o food stamps). Y no hay razón por la cual los recipientes de SNAP tengan  que sufrir un abastecimiento inferior de comidas saludables.

USDA Publishes Guide to Help Corner Stores Sell Healthier Foods

We all hear the recommendations on healthier eating and the advice we get from experts on health. But eating healthy is not as easy as simply following everything we hear from doctors and nutritionists. Sometimes, access to healthier food choices is limited by one's neighborhood. Other times, the food choices for fresher and more nutritious items are simply not financially attainable. And in yet other cases, the barriers to healthier food choices can be something as simple as knowing where to look in your local store.

That's where the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA comes in -- trying to improve the availability of healthier items for those we serve, without sacrificing taste. FNS is the federal agency in charge of running the SNAP program. And there's no reason why SNAP recipients have to bear an inferior supply of healthy foods.

Connecting Health, Faith and Agriculture: How One Community is Using Agriculture to Support Community Health

In the rural community of Conetoe, North Carolina, residents are taking aim at the lack of access to healthy and nutritious food and its youth are leading the charge. In the predominately African American town, more than 60 youth participants of Conetoe Family Life Center (CFLC) have a direct role in the health and welfare of their community.

Conetoe Family Life Center was established in 2007 by Reverend Richard Joyner, a 2010 CNN Hero, to address persistent poverty and lack of access to healthy foods for the predominantly African American rural town of Conetoe, North Carolina.  As a result of CFLC’s efforts, the community has seen a dramatic decrease in negative health determinants.

Minneapolis School Embraces Family-Style Dining

How do you create a better lunch experience for students? It all started with a conversation between Ginger Davis Kranz, Principal of Webster Elementary School, and the Minneapolis Public Schools’ Director of Food Service, Bertrand Weber. In September 2016, I was fortunate enough to visit Webster Elementary School in Minneapolis and see for myself how their family-style dining works. I’d like to share Webster Principal Ginger Davis Kranz’s inspiring blog about her school’s innovative and thoughtful approach to the students’ mealtime experience.

By Ginger Davis Kranz, Principal of Webster Elementary School

What if school lunchtime was more than just a wait in line and a race to find a seat and eat, but instead was more like a traditional family meal – a time when friends gather to enjoy their food, engage in meaningful conversation, build relationships and gain important life skills? After reflecting on this question, Webster Elementary, a Minneapolis public school, made the decision to abandon the typical chaotic and impersonal lunchroom experience and create a family-style dining program.

Fighting Hunger: Closing the Summer Feeding Gap

Summer is tough to enjoy when you’re hungry. It’s a hard reality that many kids from low-income households face when school is out and the weather turns sunny. To help close the summer feeding gap, the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer demonstration offers a new model to do just that.

Without the daily nutrition provided by the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, many families facing poverty are also experiencing its most difficult symptom: hunger. USDA has several tools to help solve this problem, with the newest addition being the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children demonstration project, commonly referred to as Summer EBT.

SNAP E&T Boosts Job Skills, Transforms Lives

On a recent trip to California,  I took part in a wonderful event in San Francisco’s Mission District - also known as “The Mission” - one of the most racially and economically diverse areas in the nation.  After parking the car, Jesus Mendoza Jr., Regional Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service’s Western Region, escorted me to a room buzzing with activity and excitement. Now given my role as Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), you might expect that we were visiting a food bank or a meal program for low-income children.

But this visit wasn’t about food.

It was about jobs!