American Heart Association says Senate Farm Bill protects SNAP, but needs to do more on diet quality

June 13, 2018 Categories: Advocacy News

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13, 2018 — American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement on the farm bill, passed today by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry:  

“Few pieces of legislation have as much control over the food we eat as the farm bill. That’s why we are pleased to see, that unlike its House counterpart, the Senate has released bipartisan legislation that does not slash millions of Americans from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Rather than get stuck in political disagreements, the Senate’s willingness to negotiate has resulted in a bill that puts the needs of SNAP participants first. This legislation strengthens the nuts and bolts of how SNAP works – and helps to address the food insecurity of those Americans who rely on the program. 

Fortunately, the Senate bill continues Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grants and provides mandatory funding for the program, which offers incentives for extra fruit and vegetable purchases for SNAP participants. The bill would also strengthen FINI and create technical assistance and training centers to improve FINI’s efficiency and effectiveness.

Many of the Senate’s proposed reforms to SNAP are focused on addressing technical challenges. This includes SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) systems, which is how program benefits are delivered and redeemed at retailers. The bill would require the USDA to review state-level contract service agreements for SNAP EBT systems, streamline EBT use at farmer’s markets, and mandate that the Government Accountability Office more closely examine EBT outages.

In addition, the Senate bill would leave SNAP nutrition education funding intact. These programs are a critical touchstone for empowering SNAP participants with more information about food budgeting and guidance on selecting healthier food, which are essential for addressing the effects of food insecurity and poor nutrition.

Lastly, we are pleased that the Senate bill includes a provision to create a new pilot program to examine the effectiveness of produce prescriptions, which encourages doctors to write a prescription for people to purchase fruits and vegetables. This is an excellent move in the direction of making nutritious food more accessible to some of America’s most vulnerable populations.

Despite these improvements, we are disappointed that the legislation does not do enough to improve diet quality. If we truly want to see better health outcomes, we need to make nutrition a priority and a final farm bill that strongly addresses what all Americans choose to put on our plates every day.”

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the American Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association officially launched in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit StrokeAssociation.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the Association's science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

For Media Inquiries:

Samantha Carter: samantha.carter@heart.org, 202-785-7935

For Public Inquiries: (800) AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and strokeassociation.org