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FNS Staff Recall Highlights from White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

Like many of our USDA colleagues across the country, federal staff from the Food and Nutrition Service were glued in last week to the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Many attended in-person to contribute ideas and host the event alongside White House staff, and hundreds more tuned in virtually. It was a day to remember, filled with excitement and a renewed commitment to the important work our agency does to improve food and nutrition security.

Liberation Farms - Food Justice in Action

It’s eight in the morning, and farmers with hand hoes and buckets have been here for two hours already, weeding and watering their plots before the heat of the day. Over 200 members of the Somali Bantu community of Lewiston, Maine, make the short drive out to Liberation Farms a few times each week to tend their crops. Visitors to our farm often comment on how few weeds they spot between stalks of corn. It’s not magic, we tell them: our farmers are constantly in friendly competition to see who can have the best-looking plot.

The Food Basket’s DA BUX Program Prioritizes Nutrition Education for Hawaiʻi’s Children

The Food Basket-Hawai‘i Island’s Food Bank took its first stride in creating place-based nutrition education resources for Hawai‘i’s keiki (the Hawaiian word for children). Launched in 2021, the book Kai and Hōkū Explore Foods of Hawaiʻi helps families and early childcare providers explore local fruits and vegetables with their children. It features the popular mascots, Kai and Hōkū, of the Keiki Heroes public health initiative as they learn about eight crops commonly grown in Hawai‘i, including ‘ulu (breadfruit) and kāpiki pākē (bok choy). The book offers hands-on learning activities and simple recipes, making each fruit and vegetable an exciting adventure and valuable learning experience for young food explorers.

Enrollment in Head Start Programs Now Easier for Families

On May 9, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS) partnered to celebrate a step forward in streamlining access to crucial government programs.

Thrifty Food Plan Re-evaluation Puts Nutrition in Reach for SNAP Participants

More than 42 million of our neighbors rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to feed their families. USDA recently re-evaluated the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP), used to set SNAP benefits, which increased the purchasing power of the plan by 21% for the first time since it was introduced in 1975. As a result, on October 1, SNAP maximum benefit amounts will increase.

You Spoke, We Listened: The Challenges of Purchasing Healthy Food with SNAP Benefits

As directed by Congress in 2018, USDA is re-evaluating the Thrifty Food Plan (TFP)—the estimated cost of an affordable, nutritious diet. The TFP is used to calculate SNAP benefit levels. To complement the re-evaluation efforts and gather insights from those who will be impacted by the result, USDA recently hosted five listening sessions with SNAP participants, researchers, advocates, and others. Here’s some of what we heard: