The passage of the Farm Bill (the Agricultural Act of 2014) includes some changes and reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program. In Arizona, SNAP benefits help put healthy food on the table for more than one million people each month, with more than half of the benefits going to children and teens.
The new Farm Bill promotes healthier options by requiring SNAP retailers to provide healthy choices. When fully implemented, any store that accepts SNAP must offer at least seven foods in each of the USDA’s four categories of staple foods. The law also provides grant programs to encourage people that receive SNAP benefits to buy more fruits and vegetables, provide funding for loan programs for healthy food retailers, and create opportunities for schools to add different kinds of vegetables as part of school menus.
In terms of education funding for SNAP… we’ll be able to promote physical activity in addition to nutrition education. This is great news because the combination of healthier foods and physical activity are powerful tools in fighting the obesity epidemic. And it fits so well with our Winnable Battle to promote nutrition and physical activity to reduce obesity. Many studies show there’s a link between obesity and low-income families, so adding nutritional criteria to SNAP is a significant improvement on the status quo and a positive springboard for improving health outcomes moving forward.